I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? ….. are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?….Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” Gal 3:2,11
Yesterday we thought about how people try to use various means to ‘appease’ God – which is really just superstition.  When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia he was writing to a people who had gloriously and simply received the Gospel.  Paul had told them about Jesus dying on the Cross for their sin and they had gladly received that.   Salvation had come simply as they believed and received what they had heard.  They had been well and truly saved at that point. There had been no question about it!
Part of that package was receiving the Holy Spirit as the new power source in their lives(v.2), but subsequent to that there came those who said that wasn’t enough, they needed to obey Moses’ Law as well.  So, now they started trying to keep the rules in order to obtain or keep their salvation. The church at Colossae got into the same bind and Paul had to chide them as well for now relying upon rule-keeping, in the way they worried about what to eat, or what special days to keep (Col 2:16-23).
What is rule keeping?  It is a form of belief that puts its trust in keeping man-made rules to win God’s approval, and you find it in every religion.   The only thing such religion guarantees, is failure and guilt.   If you live by rules, the one thing you can be sure of is that you will break some of them!   We then feel guilty or we start justifying why this rule broken is all right, but deep down we still worry. 
The thing about rule-keeping is that it is self-centred and if we do well on a good day, pride says, aren’t you doing well, all without God, and so in fact it makes us feel we can do without Him!   Rule-keeping is humanistic religion.  It is promoting a form of spirituality that doesn’t need God – it’s godless and self-centred!
Are you saying we should break the rules then, somebody asks.  Of course not, but the rules don’t become the way to achieve God’s approval, they are simply an expression of our love for God, after we have received His love.  So, for example, will not getting drunk get God’s approval? No, rule keeping doesn’t win his approval, simply believing in Jesus and his work on the Cross (see later) does. 
When we realise what he has done for us, and we accept this truth and his love, we find we are suddenly on the receiving end of this love in a big way.  As this love impacts us, we find we no longer want to do those harmful and foolish things we did before and so, as in this example, we no longer get drunk.  We come to see that God’s ‘rules’ are to protect and bless us and lead us into a good lifestyle, once to we know his love.  ‘Following the rules’ is a result or outworking of our faith and love, not a means to get to it!
Lord, please forgive me for that tendency that I have to try to earn your love.  I realise when I think about it, that you give it to me freely.  I realise that even my best efforts are so often self-centred, and I know you want to take my eyes off me and on to you.  Please help me.  Please open my eyes to see the wonder of your love for me as shown through Jesus.

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