Work That Does Not Work

We got a new bird feeder! I love it. It’s squirrel proof. They step on the perch and the bird feeder goes to work. No matter how hard the squirrels work at getting the bird seed, all their efforts are without effect. All their work, does not work.

The way you get in is the way you go on. We get in by grace through faith, we go on by grace through faith. Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians to stress that the Christian life is one of grace and faith. He scolded the Galatians with, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ….” He told them, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” That’s “grace,” not “salvation.” An important point to note.

The word that is translated “severed from” is more literally translated “made of no effect” or “non-work.” It’s like when you type for hours on your computer and then shut it down before remembering to save your work. You worked, but the results are gone, as if you did no work at all.

The same word is used in Romans 6:6 with regard to our old nature and the flesh. “Our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with.” The tendency of the flesh toward its old sin patterns is made of no effect by the cross.

It also appears in Hebrews 2:14 where we are told that Jesus took on flesh and blood and went to the cross so that “through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil.” Through the Cross of Jesus, Satan is made of no effect.

We, on the other hand, are made of no effect when we try to go on by a different means than the way we got in. When we start seeking our justification in actions, deeds, doing, works, rules, or law, we have moved away from resting in His finished work on our behalf. We have moved away from, or fallen from, grace. We have moved away from the cross. We are made of no effect. All our efforts fail to produce the desired results. Our work does not work.

Do you feel powerless in your walk with the Lord? Do you find it impossible to always be holy, to always do the right thing? Great!¬†Faith is not a system of religious beliefs. It is not a set of rules. It is not a denomination or a religion. All those things may fit a dictionary definition of the noun “faith.” None of them are what it means to “faith” God. Glory in your weakness. It is there that His ability shines through. Quit trying to do His work in your strength. There is no better place for you to be than in absolute dependence on the Father. That is faith.

Rest in Him. Depend on Him. That is death to self. That is the cross in the daily life. Walk in the grace that saved you. You may very well likely find yourself doing the same work you are doing now, but in His strength and ability and not your own. It will be a work characterized by inner peace, not emotional turmoil, striving and burnout. You may struggle, but it will be the struggle to rest, not the struggle to work.

The Greek word usually translated “power” is dunamis. It means natural ability, or inherent capability. Consider God. What is He capable of doing? How powerful is He? What are His abilities?

Now, whose ability would your rather operate in, yours or His?

1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “The word of the cross is to . . .¬† us who are being saved . . . the power of God.”

Our old nature is made of no effect by the cross. Satan is made of no effect by the cross. When we get away from the cross, we are made of no effect. But through the cross, the daily resting in Him and not ourselves, we find the very ability of God at work within us.

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