I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. —Acts 26:5
There are those who go through the motions of being a follower of Jesus Christ, but it is only a show. They go to church on Sunday and sometimes there are those who go many times during the week thinking that by doing so gives them favor before God. These are people when you ask them if they know Jesus they will say, “I am not as bad as some people.” These are people who conform to a set of “what to do and what not to do” listed by themselves, someone else or an organization. They conform to a set of rules.
This is what Paul had done as a former Pharisee. He had been more concerned with outward ceremonies and rules. He would have been rigid and unforgiving, hypocritical and self-righteousness. Jesus said of the Pharisees that they had “let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions” (Mark 7:8) and that they “nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that” (Mark 7:13). Yet by strictly conforming to these traditions as more important than the Word of God, they thought they were being zealous for God (Galatians 1:14). Then God called Paul by grace that he might preach the gospel (Galatians 1:16).
False religious systems teach that you must do certain things and not do other things in order to be saved. This is not the case. This is a lie. We are saved only through the finished work of Jesus as the cross. It was there He was the final, perfect and only sacrifice that could take away sin. It is only through repentance and trusting Jesus’ substitutionary work for us on the cross that we can be saved. No amount of good works can ever make someone right before God (Acts 4:12; II Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians chapter 2; Titus 3:5).
Jesus set us free from sin which no amount of doing or not doing of religious conforming lists could ever do. After we trust the Lord Jesus it is out of gratitude and thankfulness that we then serve Him. It is never out of seeking His favor for salvation in any way. He already took care of that at the cross and when we trusted that finished work— that is what saves us and frees us from the bondage of sin and death and to a relationship with Him.
Thank You dear Father for setting me free in the Lord Jesus. Truly, may I live a life of grateful service to Him. May many others do the same thing and many more come to Him and Him alone to be saved from their sin, saved from the “sting of death which is sin” and live for Him as well. May it be so!