July 3, 2020. Day 185: Only faith working through love.

Galatians 5:5-6. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Hope. Faith. Love.

The three Christian graces. The beginning, middle, and end of the Christian life. The three results of our union with Christ. We hope. We have faith. We love. There is no simpler or better way to explain the work of the Spirit in a believer’s heart.

Can you trace the progression of hope, faith and love in your own heart?

Hope.

Even though faith is mentioned first, hope is where it all begins. Because of the indwelling life of Christ, we have hope. Hope is not wishing for something (it could happen). Hope is a joyful and confident expectation (it will happen). In the New Testament, hope is assurance. The assurance of union with Christ. The assurance of the indwelling Spirit of God. Paul calls it the hope of righteousness. The assurance of that one day Christ will return for us and we will live with him in his love forever. Why? Because we have been made righteous. We have been justified freely by his blood. Our righteousness in Christ is now our hope of being with Christ and God, where he is, for all eternity.

Faith.

Our hope, our assurance, next requires faith. By faith we wait for the hope of righteousness. Faith is not a “one and done” for the Christian. Faith is our entire life. We are called to continually trust in this hope of righteousness. Our hope is always there, but we do not always trust it. God has graciously granted us our hope in Christ. But we must believe it each moment of each day. We have to trust in our union with Christ as our future, rather than trusting that we are actively trying to create for ourselves.

In Galatia they placed their faith in law keeping (circumcision). Their hope of righteousness was in their own behaviors and actions that they believed would make them right with God. But there is no room for this in the gospel. There is absolutely no space for faith in the self. There’s no such thing as “I’m better than you” in Christ. Life in the Spirit IS the life of faith. But law keeping requires no faith at all. It requires work, and effort, and trying real hard until you are crushed.

But our faith is in the freedom of Jesus’ imputed righteousness. And this faith will take us to the end goal of the Christian life – love.

Beast finds hope in love.

Love.   

Our hope produces our faith. Our faith produces our love. The only thing that counts is faith working through love. We must understand here that Paul is NOT saying that the work of love is added to our faith. But what he is saying is that love is the completion of hope and faith. Faith WILL produce the work of love (see day 177). How?

When law keeping and performance as our “hope of righteousness” are replaced with Christ and his righteousness alone, we find that now we are gloriously free. Free not only FROM the law, but free TO love. Unconditionally. Not from reciprocity, attachment, or what I can get out of it. But loving from a future hope. Giving of myself fully and freely because I know that right now I have Christ’s love, and one day I will have Christ’s everything else. When I know that one day I will have all things, then today I can sacrifice my life for you. I can love you even to the point of death.

“To live is Christ” is hope, faith, and love, with love as the end of all things. Our hope and faith in Christ become Christ’s love in us and through us. And this is the only thing that counts now. Not your works, not your performance, not your religious rituals, disciplines, or deeds. Just fully trusting Christ to the point where you are free to love as he has loved you.

This hope, faith, and love are the only way to live a life that won’t crush you, the abundant life that Jesus promised to all who would trust in him.

You

Can you see the progression of hope, faith, and love in your life?

You in Christ

In Christ you have all the love of God and all the hope of a future with Jesus. Do you believe this?

Christ in you

How might your hope and faith be completed as works of love today?

Playlist: Songs of hope.

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