The Joy of Total Dependance
Note: To follow along in the New Testament readings, read Galatians 3.
“I wanna do it by myself!” As a dad of an almost 2 and an almost 4 year old, I hear these words often. They want to do it themselves. They don’t want help. I appreciate this impulse, but the reality is my two kids are totally dependent individuals. They could not make it a day without almost constant help and supervision.
And you know what? Neither could you. You are completely incapable of earning favor with God. Not only were you born with the sin debt of Adam (Rm. 5:18), you have failed to obey God’s law yourself (Rm. 3:23, Gal 3:10). To really add to the problem, you’re not a Jew. God’s promise of blessing and favor was to the descendant of Abraham, and chances are, you aren’t one. Of course underlying all of this is your tendency to be a total screw up. Deep in your heart, you know that even your best days are filled with mistakes, failures, and wrong motives that just seem to naturally pour out of your heart.
This is Paul’s big idea in Galatians 3. In verse 3 he challenges the church with this questions: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” If God’s Spirit had to come and wake you up to even be able to see Jesus do you really thing you can obey him on your own? It is a curse to try to earn God’s favor by the Law. You’ll never do it. But there is hope!
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
– Galatians 3:13–14 ESV
We are totally dependent people. I can see this dependance so clearly with my 22 month old son. Why am I so blind to my own dependance? “I wanna do it by myself.” Is simply not possible for us. We are accepted by God only because we are under Jesus. Our faith in Christ is believing that before the judgement of God, we are hidden in the perfection of Jesus. If that’s true about “how we get saved.” Why would it not be true about how we live day to day? Our obedience is beautiful, not because we can do it by ourselves, but because Christian obedience is God’s work of grace in Jesus coming out in our lives.
Weary Christian, stop striving. Condemned Christian, stop reliving your failures. Self righteous Christian, stop taking credit for what God has done. Jesus alone can save. Jesus alone can sanctify. Cling to him. Embrace to joy of total dependance on Christ.