"I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Galatians 2:21
On the rock-bound coast north of Boston one can see the beautiful home once belonging to Lydia Pinkham. Her company made a popular remedy that many regarded as patent medicine. Perhaps some found “relief” from it because it was 20 percent alcohol.
Jesus is our good Physician, and what He and His apostles dispensed was the pure Gospel, the only cure for sinful man. Our Lord spoke the words of life, warning His hearers about false prophets, that is, quacks, peddlers of useless spiritual medicines. Sometimes these false teachers offered remedies that were a mixture of truths and untruths. But true doctrine, when mixed with error, is no longer the truth.
This fact becomes especially evident when the way of salvation by faith is watered down, even poisoned, by claims of salvation by good works or human merit. If, even to the smallest degree, we are made to believe that we become right with God by our own goodness or good deeds, the principle of divine grace is set aside.
Saint Paul encountered this attempted mixture of God’s mercy with human merit among the Galatian Christians, many of whom were led to believe that the deeds of the Law must still be done to gain God’s favor. The apostle calls this a gospel different from the one he had preached. It was in fact no longer the Gospel. The Gospel that he preached was that Christians lived by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who loved them and gave Himself on the cross for them. The idea of salvation by works, he says, sets aside the grace of God, "for if righteousness could be gained through the Law, Christ died for nothing."
The “alcohol” of human merit can make people feel good, but only the Gospel brings them peace with God.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord God, for the gift of the Gospel and for the salvation it brings through faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)
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