Trust in the Truth
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)
In the early church, Christ's message was being embraced and shared, but the Jewish leaders were still preaching that all of the Law of Moses still needed to be kept. Christ's message proclaimed that we are saved by faith, while the Law of Moses taught that works upon works were necessary. Christ's message showed how God worked his way to us through Christ Jesus, while the message of the Law of Moses kept men working their way to God. They were different messages - the Law of Moses being done away with by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Paul found there were individuals who began their walk with Christ through faith in this finished work, but then they listened to the preaching of the Jewish leaders that they still needed to do all manner of works, keeping this feast day and all the 'regulations' proclaimed within the Law of Moses and the Torah. In other words, those who had been set free by grace were being bound again by works.
Man can work his way toward God all he wants, but apart from grace, there is no way of ever reaching God! We may think all the 'good stuff' we are doing is going to assure us of entry into heaven, but as Jesus said, God won't be impressed by those works - only our testimony of faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus. We 'enter in' through the blood sacrifice that made all other sacrifices outlined in the Law of Moses obsolete. We 'remain in' by trusting in the grace and forgiveness found at the foot of the cross - continually bringing all our struggles, pain, and doubts to him for him to guide us through each of them. From the beginning of time, Satan has tried to deceive anyone hearing the Word of God and actually beginning to trust in that truth. He has been aptly called the deceiver of the brethren because he likes to twist the truth and get our minds confused. This is one of the greatest tactics he uses - taking truth, adding a lie to it, then proclaiming it as 'truer' than truth. We must guard against all those who seek to 'add to' God's truth - for truth is no longer truth when we add to it.
The truth - no one earns their way to God. The lie - you need to do this or that in addition to saying 'yes' to Jesus. You may ask, "Don't we have to do good stuff as Christians?" This is what confuses so many, for we see the early church caring for the sick, meeting the needs of the poor, embracing those others would reject. Isn't that 'works'? It come back to the heart motivation behind what we are 'doing'. If we 'do' in order to 'earn', it is the wrong type of 'works'. If we 'do' in a spirit of love and service, focusing first on our relationship with Christ, then in meeting the need we observe before us, we are not attempting to 'earn' anything by the 'work'. Relationship always stands opposed to religion - one relies upon the finished work of Christ (we cannot earn our way to God) and the other focuses on doing in order to be right (attempting to earn through our own merit what God gave as a gift to all who will accept it). How we choose is important - one leads to freedom and joy, the other to bondage and a constant dashing of our hopes. Just sayin!