Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Galatians 2:20-21 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
If men might be justified (declared innocent and righteous) by their obedience to the law, then Christ died in vain. If men could be saved without His death and be entitled to eternal life by their own meritorious works His death would have been in vain and frustrate salvation by grace through faith alone. Frustrate, here, means to disannul, put as of no value, shun, thwart, nullify, reject, and make void. God’s grace cannot stand with man’s merit. Grace is no longer grace unless it is freely given in every way. Romans 4:4-5 says, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” (Earned it, merited.) “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Grace is frustrated by trying to get salvation any other way except by simply believing. Only faith gives us access to grace Romans 5:1, 2.
Our entire life after salvation is also to be an obedient response to His finished work. We continue the way we started our relationship which is by faith in His grace. It is possible to be a Christian saved by grace through faith, not of works, then try to live for God by works or some merit system motivation that attempts to obligate God. When you do that, it results in a life of frustration, struggle, condemnation, bondage, and the curse. When we do this, we attempt to earn or merit His acceptance or blessing. We try to initiate a work to obligate God to do something, rather than responding to the work He already did. This is living toward God after salvation with a “by works principle” instead of a “by faith principle.”
To understand the grace of God, you first must understand that it’s unconditionally given by God and our part is the response of faith or obedience of faith. That means that nothing God did for us was conditioned upon what we could do, nor was it kept from us because of what we didn’t do. Unconditional implies the total absence of human obligation, whether good or bad, merit or demerit. Grace is all of God – none of man. Grace is always based on God – not on us. This impacts us in the very motivations of our lives. Our inner heart motivations are the place where the things we do are initiated from. Motivations are the “why” behind our actions. We need to ask ourselves what is the motive behind what we do:
Why do you pray?
• Why do you attend church?
• Why do you tithe?
• Why do you witness?
• Why do you study?
• Why do you work and serve?
If you do these things with a view to obligate God, your motivations will be wrong. All these should be done as an obedient response of faith out of our love for God. If you continue in this wrong motivation, eventually your Christian walk becomes “I have to” rather than “I want to”; it will become “I got to” rather than “I get to.” Grace affects us in the very motivations of our life. In the new covenant, God chose to deal with us in terms of grace, which is the unconditional favor of God. That means His work to save us, redeem us, forgive us, bless us, heal us, accept us, and call us was all done first in the total absence of human obligation, merit, or demerit. That does not mean we do not have responsibilities or obligations. It means we do them as a response versus doing them as something we initiate to obligate God. It is the order of the two.
In grace it is always the faithful work of God for man out of which comes the faithful work of man for God. We do works under grace but always as a response. We do works under grace not to obligate God but as a response of faith and love. In a religious works system or motivation it is man reaching up to God or the work of man toward God to get God to work for man. Under grace it is God reaching down to man with a finished work and our work is that we respond by faith. We cannot operate under a religious works motivation for the blessings of God any more than we could to merit our salvation. The blessings of God only come by faith, not through a “by works principle” approach to God. We cannot try hard, strain, or struggle to be blessed. We can only believe Galatians 3:9, “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” We are only blessed the way Abraham was blessed, which is by faith (Romans 4:16-23).