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It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery …

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (verses 1, 4-6)


“Stand firm,” Paul says.

But some of these Galatians have shot themselves in the foot. By adding to their faith the requirement to be circumcised (plus other aspects of the Jewish law) – additions they’d hoped would strengthen their spiritual standing – they have actually undermined faith completely. They need to put the whole weight of their faith on Jesus alone, or else they will find they are not truly trusting him at all.

They’d hoped to increase their righteousness by human effort, when all along righteousness could only ever come as a gift. Paul says we are to “eagerly await” this righteousness through the Spirit – we don’t create it by our own actions, rather by faith we wait, hands outstretched as it were, eager to receive it in its fullness.

These Galatians, without meaning to do so, without even realizing they had, have separated themselves from Jesus. By taking one foot off the solid rock of Christ and placing it firmly on their own effort, they have lost balance, been thrown off-kilter, and lost all grounding in Jesus – it’s as if the shift of weight toppled them over so they are no longer connected with Jesus at all.

Can we do the same? Yes, so easily. Sometimes the very acts of devotion we set up for ourselves in the Christian life (prayer, confession, church worship, acts of service) can become the things we take confidence in for a sense of spiritual well-being, rather than Jesus.

Or perhaps all along we have had the impression that trusting Jesus is good, but not fully enough – that there were actually additional requirements to be met, put on us by church or friends or our own sense of need. My Dad always said that a clear sign of being off-track was trusting “Jesus plus” – in other words, any addition to simple faith in Jesus throws us off balance.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t see those acts of devotion or service blossom and grow in our lives – indeed Paul speaks later in this same chapter of the fruit of the Spirit (verses 22-23). That fruit is meant to be there. But it’s not the rock on which we stand. That rock is Jesus alone.

May we plant feet firmly in him.


Dear Lord Jesus, I acknowledge again that there is nothing whatsoever I can add to the salvation you have fully won for me. It is complete. It is finished (as you cried out on that great day). All is accomplished. Praise your name.

Every act of devotion I now make, I simply offer into your hands as expression of praise and thanks and ongoing desire to live life abiding in you as the Vine. Help me never to get off-kilter. I choose to stand in you alone.


Reflect: Consider your own spiritual life. Is there anything (or anyone or any effort of your own) in which you are trusting in addition to Jesus? If so, confess it to him and place it in his hands, letting him put it back in perspective. Then stand firm in Jesus only.

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