Enjoy day 4 of the Set Free devotional 
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Read Galatians 2:14-3:14 in your preferred translation.

Study Note - In chapter two Paul introduces us to the concept of justification. It's a legal term and means the exact opposite of condemnation. When someone is declared justified, it means that they have been declared not guilty; innocent or righteous. To be justified by faith in Christ is to have the words 'not guilty' stamped across our lives. It means that we are not only pardoned, but accepted by God and declared innocent, righteous in His sight.
If anyone had reason to boast in their own achievements, it was Paul. In Philippians 3:6 he actually says, "If anyone thinks he has reason to put confidence in the flesh, I have more..."  He could put the Judaizers to shame with his credentials - with what he called his faultless legalistic righteousness (Philippians 3:6). He well understood their zealousness for the law - because he'd been there too. However, he also understood how powerless all his efforts had been to make him right with God.

That's why he said to Peter, "We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ" (2:15 TM). The only thing that has the power to justify us, is faith in Jesus Christ - faith in who He is as the Son of God; faith in the sufficiency of His sacrifice to pay the price for our sins; faith in the power of His resurrection to also raise us up - to enable us to live the new life that we've been called to.

Faith goes beyond intellectual belief - it's a commitment that we make. And as Paul looked to the cross, as He saw the incredible love, the incredible grace that Christ had poured out for him - he says, I can't go back to the law. I can't go back to striving and rule-keeping and trying to prove my own goodness. I will not let Christ's death be for nothing. I am all in - I have died to the law that I might live for God (v.19).

For Paul, dying to the law, allowing himself to be crucified with Christ, was not just about dying to the bad stuff that we do - it was also about all the good stuff that we do for the wrong reasons; all our flawed efforts to earn our own righteousness. We inherently know that all our failings and shortcomings - all our sin - disqualifies us, labels us guilty. But sometimes we forget that all the good stuff we do will never be enough either. We don't just die to sin - we also die to our right to justify, to prove ourselves.

And the most incredible thing happens - in all this dying, we find life. His life - the abundant life. Faith releases to us rich blessings and the promise of the Spirit.Justification doesn't just change our status with God - it transforms us from the inside out. The Spirit of God Himself, in all His resurrection power and glory now lives within us; works through us. And as we continue to trust Him, He gives us the grace - the unmerited favour and resurrection power - that we need for each day.

You can read my own personal story of encountering grace in this week's blog. Read it here.
Galatians is deeply theological - but it's also intensely personal. Paul writes, I died to the law... that I might live for God... I no longer live, but Christ lives in me... I live by faith, in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. It wasn't just theory, but a personal revelation - the conviction that he lived out of. Meditate on Paul's words in vv.19-20 - put yourself in them. What is God asking you to die to? What does it look like for you to live by faith, right now, in this current season?

In Galatians 3:3, Paul writes: How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? (NLT). Sometimes, we begin with the Spirit - that is with faith in Jesus for our salvation, but then we start to get into striving for our sanctification (really, that's a fancy word for becoming like Christ, being perfected into His image). God intended that both our salvation and our transformation would be a work of the Spirit. Ask Him to show you if there is any area that your are relying on your own efforts instead of keeping in step with the Spirit.
Jesus, today I choose faith over works. I choose to die to myself and to live for You. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit - I believe that He is at work within me, transforming me from the inside out so that I can reflect Your glory.  In Jesus Name, Amen.
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