What is the result of trying to live by law?

What is the result of trying to live by law?

Gal 3:10  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them

Rom 4:15  Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Gal 5:4  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.


Gal 5:4 (RcV) You have been  brought to nought, separated from Christ, you who are being justified by l law; you have  fallen from  grace.

Continuing a line of questions about the law from a Bible study I did recently.  Yes, there is an end in sight!

Objectively speaking, to put ourselves under the law is to put ourselves under its curse, because no one keeps the law in its entirety.  James says that if we are guilty in just one point we are guilty of all of it, and Paul says that we are cursed if we do not continue in all of the things which are written in the book of the law.

This is why circumcision was so serious in Galatians.  You might say “jeez it’s just one thing” but by trying to keep that one thing, they were obligating themselves to everything.

However we know that Jesus Christ became a curse for us, and that we are blessed with Abraham the believer.  We have received the Spirit.  Yet still we might be tempted to put ourselves under law. This does not mean that God will curse us, but he will surely teach us!

Romans 4:15 says “the law works wrath” – the more we are under it, the more we feel condemned inwardly, because the law magnifies and condemns our sins.  It accuses us.  It is against us!

We feel this very much when we strive under the law (unless we’ve deceived ourselves into thinking we keep it!) The voice at Sinai and the blast of the trumpet became louder and louder as God spoke the ten commandments.  It was horrifying to the people of Israel and they could not bear it.

This is what happens in the mind of a believer who puts himself under the law.  He hears everything through a “spirit of bondage unto fear.”  Yet this is not God’s tone to his children.

He has not given us a spirit of bondage bringing us back into fear, but a spirit of sonship, crying “abba father”, and the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.  This is a comforting voice that causes us to draw near.

But the voice at Sinai was a terrifying voice, and no one could draw near.  That voice repels us from the presence of God and fills us with the sense of fear of His wrath.  I believe from my experience  that this is what it feels like for the law to “work wrath”.

Practically speaking, our conscience condemns us when we are trying to live according to law.  We know we do not keep it. We know that we fail. and the law tells us that this failure separates us from God’s blessing and brings upon us His wrath.  As New Testament believers, this is not where we should be living.

Galatians 5:4 says “You have been  brought to naught, separated from Christ, you who are being justified by l law; you have  fallen from  grace. ”  This simply means that trying to be justified by law keeping nullifies our relationship with Christ, insulating us from Him.

As believers, Christ dwells within our spirit, but when we turn to the law, we effectively turn away from Him.  It amazes me when I hear teachers say that now that we’re joined to Christ, He wants to turn our heart to love and treasure the law.  My reaction is that we are joined to Christ in a love betrothal – He is our bridgeroom.  Shouldn’t we treasure Him and Him alone?  When we turn away from Christ and onto something else for our spiritual living, surely we give Him no room to live in us and make His home in our heart!

This also means we fall from grace.  This does not mean to eternally perish, but to lack the experience of grace.  Grace is just God with us.  John 1 says “of His fullness we have received, grace upon grace.”  In many places in the NT Paul says things like “the grace of the lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit”, and “I labored, yet not I but the grace of God within me.”

Grace is not just God smiling from heaven at us, it is God with us in the person of Jesus Christ, living His life out among us and refreshing us with Himself, and directing our hearts into His love.  By putting ourselves under law, we frustrate this experience.

There is much loss that comes from putting oneself under law.  Christ “disappears” and is not the treasure of our heart, and without Him, there is no possibility of bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

Furthermore as Paul describes in Romans 7, the law of sin in our members takes advantage of the commandment to slay and kill us by working all kinds of sin in us. When the “law came, sin revived and I died”.  That is mysterious, but it’s true.  Surely by cutting ourselves off from the grace of Christ we will not see anything but darkness and sin!


  1. Renee

    Please keep writing…I am reading! I am in this dark place, full of fear. I had thought I was saved at 21, but with no Christian friends, no Christian family, it was short lived. I have tried off and on to live right (good), several times off and on, and failed miserably. So, I am not sure if I was ever saved. Last year,at the age of 41, I made a real commitment to follow the Lord, and it started out really well, but I read some stuff by John Piper, and Ray Comfort, and have been near suicide daily. I am now more aware of my sinfulness, than ever before, and as much as I hate it, I can’t change the hidden wicked desires of the flesh, such as the approval of people, etc. I am also the victim of some pretty extreme child abuses. I was told repeatedly by a cruel stepfather (whom I have forgiven), that I was garbage and a piece of (expletive). He said No one would ever want me. I tried to live up to his expectations, but the bar kept getting raised. Because of this I am terrified that God will have no part of me. I am living under the law, and I am worn out, mentally, emotionally, and physically! This doesn’t feel like the “good news!” I know it is supposed to be different.What does living by faith look like on a daily basis? I don’t understand when you say that. Thank you for this blog, you have planted seeds..

    • seekingtoknowhim

      You mentioned Ray Comfort and Piper. More and more today it seems like the protestant christian landscape is dominated by a teaching called “lordship salvation” which is rooted in covenant calvinism. It’s important to know about this teaching and how it undermines the gospel of grace, and also to know who are the major purveyors of it. I recommend a blog website called expreacherman.com. Read what you can about the nature of lordship salvation and you’ll at the same time find yourself refreshed with the real gospel of grace.

      In a nutshell, lordsihp salvation uses the word “faith” …they say that we are saved by faith, but insist that faith is not believing a message that we heard, but a commitment to the lordship of Christ, a turning away from sin, and a life of obedience to Christ. They say that those who do not exhibit these characteristics have not been saved. So there is no assurance of salvation because you look to yourself for the assurance, rather than to Christ and His finished work.

      but according to Paul, the faith we have that is unto salvation is a faith in the gospel – which is the good news of what Jesus Christ did for us, how God reconciled us to Himself, apart from our works. One of my faviorite verses is:

      “He who does NOT work but BELIEVES in Him that Justifies the Ungodly, His FAITH is counted as righteousness.” (rom 4:5)

      This verse is especially useful when the Enemy plunges our soul into condemnation. i resort to it a lot. I am not righteous. And it seems that I do not work.. even any good work I do seems to be ruined by my flesh, by my evil nature, by my paranoia and my insecurity and desire for men’s approval. Maybe I have worked. but to me I have to say “I work not.” And I am definitely ungodly. But I believe in Him – God who justifies the ungodly. How? as Paul said in romans 3, this justificatoin – setting right with Himself, was through the shed blood of Christ. I might not understand it all, but I know that I believe in the work of God in Christ. And this faith, according to Paul, is counted to me as rightouesness. Not just a little more righteousness than what I lack, but the righteousness of God Himself, exhibited in Christ.

      and we need to make no mistake – the faith is not our commitment, our vows to obey Christ, or our trying to do anything. It is the simple reckoning that God’s word – His Testimony concerning His Son is true. It is believing in a message that we heard.

      I love to mediate on these verses in 1 john.

      1Jn 5:9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
      1Jn 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
      1Jn 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

      These verses clearly say that when we believe on the Son of God, it is because we have God’s testimony (witness) – His record, His Speaking in ourselves. And because of this speaking, we have believed God’s record – that He has given us eternal life in His Son. the evidence of this life in us is the fact that we believe! The presence of the faith in the Gospel is the continual evidence of the Spirit that dwells within us, bearing witness to the truth. 1 John 5:6 says that “The Spirit gives witness, because the Spirit is the truth.”

      So for a moment at least, stop thinking about yourself. no matter how bad you think you are, or how much you think you have failed, can you UNBELIEVE that Jesus died on the cross, and rose from the dead? Can you unbelieve that He is the Son of God? Further, ask yourself, do you believe that His blood was sufficient to pay the price for your sin? Remember, 1 Peter 1:19 says you were purchased not with silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ. God’s word says the blood of Christ is much more precious than Gold.

      The devil likes to get us to ask “does God accept ME?” But the real question is: “Does God accept the blood that was shed on my behalf?” And when you stop to ask these questions, and ask “can I believe that God has rejected the blood of His Son?” I think you’ll find your answer is is “no, of course I can’t believe that. that would make God a liar.” It’s interesting. We may question whether we’re saved, but we can’t deny that God has revealed that Jesus is the Son of God, went to the cross, died for our sins, and rose from the dead on the third day. Further we have to admit that the blood of Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son of God, must be acceptable to the father, being precious and of more worth than silver or gold. This incidentally is consistent with the faith as revealed in the old and the new testament, from the time of Abel who presented a blood offering to God and was accepted because of His offering, to the time of the modern day believer who believes in the shed blood of Christ as the one offering that was accepted by God on our behalf. There is no other offering God will accept. we know this.

      So you have to ask yourself, “Why is it that I believe this?” The answer is because the Spirit within you testifies – you have the witness in yourself! The world does not have this witness, therefore they do not believe. But God’s children have this witness, and this is why they believe!

      Similarly, Paul said in Ephesians 1:13 Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”. In 1 John we see the Spirit bearing witness to the message in us. Here we see that the Spirit comes and puts his seal on us. When? after we heard and believed the word of the truth. The message of our salvation. Its not the message of what to DO to be saved, its the message of YOUR salvation. Its your posession. The Word came concerning the Son of God, and you believed it. That word is your salvation. And when you believed it, the Holy Spirit, who bears witness to that message, came and sealed you. Put God’s mark on you – that you are His own Possession. And that Spirit within you is the GUARANTEE from God of the eventual redemption of the posession. Don’t we need this guarantee? Absolutely. And why? because in this journey we are contiually assaulted with false messages from the evil one that tell us we are not His, we are not really saved. Once again, the primarily evidence of the Spirit in our life is not our virtue, or anything we do. It’s the fact that we believe.

      So interestingly this is not what I had initially intended to write in my response but its what I ended up writing, and this exact meditation has been a great help to me . I have struggled with a similar past full of rejection – I was adopted when I was 3 into an abusive household and there were many step parents and abusive ones at that… and i know how it destroys our psychology and makes it so easy for us to believe the lies of the enemy.

      But we are believers. And its not that we struggle to believe and in the end hopefully our faith will win out over our unbelief. The quality of our faith is not the issue. The presence of our faith, even if its just the size of a tiny mustard seed, brings us all the way home. No matter what we go through in this life, no matter how much we are assailed by doubt and unbelief, nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ. To live by faith though, is to turn away from the self as the source of anything for God, and learn to nourish our hearts on the promises of the Gospel and the comforts that it brings, in spite of what we are or aren’t. There’s a lot that could be said about that, but it starts with the basics of learning to assure yourself that you are really, eternally saved through faith in the gospel.

      Like I said, I recommend expreacherman.com as a good starting place to learn about the message of lordship salvation and how damaging it is to faith, and contrast it to the message of grace. I also recommend the many messages on duluth bible church’s website regarding grace.

      I sure hope this was a help… i am massively ADD and when I’m tired my mind wanders – its hard to write very concisely and keep on track. please keep in touch!

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