A couple of days ago I had a bit of a rant about total depravity. This links into the idea that some sins are quietly destructive, and some lead to open confrontation and punishment. Because our sense of justice should be offended when people are evil. or get away with evil:
This world is fallen: instead we get offended when we get caught. But, as today’s passage points out, we have all broken the law, and under the law we are all cursed.
1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! 2The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4Did you experience so much for nothing? — if it really was for nothing. 5Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
6Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” 7so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. 8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.” 9For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.
10For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 12But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” — 14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Now, this is the good news: we can live by faith. We do not have to live knowing we are going to perdition. But that is not our doing.
The question for those of Christ, therefore, is how to live. There is no particular efficacy for salvation in our actions, for we taint everyining we do with mixed motives. Instead we have to rely on the Grace of God.
And it seems to me that many of our theological arguments are nationalisations for how we see the means of grace. For we all can move towards idolatory in our worship — venerating bread, not God, worshipping the Bible, not Gio, or following tradition, not God — in short worshipping the tools of devotion instead of using the tools to worship the almighty. Yes, this includes the Protestants and the Reformed. It is part of our fallen human nature.
And so Paul is harsh. He calls us fools. FOr we are trying to forget, by our rituals and controversies, the raw facts.
We are all damned but for CHrist.
And salvation is the work of God, not something we could ever earn.