Have you ever found yourself wondering how to win the favor of God? I’m sure this is an age old question and I am not the first to think of it. Many men have humiliated themselves, and brought themselves down in abject misery for this purpose. The History Channel often offers a view of how people of every land have starved themselves, slept on stones, lacerated their flesh and subjected themselves to all sorts of torture, thinking that these actions would win God’s favor.
Others try to win God’s favor through worship, sacrifices, by observing certain feasts and fasts, and elaborate forms of rituals. But even worship becomes monotonous and sacrifices lose their meaning. Then men come to believe in the power and action of obedience to touch God’s heart. Yet, according to Paul, man does not win God’s favor by physical degradation or ecclesiastical ceremony, or by obeying the Decalogue. There is nothing, he asserts, which a man can do which will win him the favor of God. It is not possible. The favor of the Eternal Father, therefore, is not to be earned even by obedience to the law, but is simply to be accepted as given by grace with thanksgiving and joy.
When Paul says that Christians are no longer under law, he means that they are no longer under law as external restraint. When he says that the law has passed away, he means that it has passed away as a measure of coercion, but he does not mean that the life of man can ever safely depart from the principles ordained of God. It is no longer external restraint but internal constraint, no longer external compulsion but internal impulsion that appeals to the heart of God.
There are in these modern times, however, too many people in the church who do not know how to benefit from the grace given them. There is much havoc in today’s Christian church because men use the excuse of grace to please the flesh (if they are Christians at all). If there is no internal constraint, the number of professing Christians who make shipwreck of their religious life is appalling. No love of Christ constrains them to do what God would have them do. It is evident that their “Cultural” Christianity is a sham.
So, how do we gain favor with God? We know this when we trust Jesus Christ for our salvation and receive the Spirit of God who makes us free from the Law by grace. It is the Holy Spirit working a holy internal compulsion within us to live by the principles of the Law in service to God and strengthened by God.