by Ryan Lambros
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
I upgrade my PC from Vista to Windows 7 about a month ago. I love the change. However, recently I had a serious problem. My lovely computer would freeze up on me right after starting it up. After running numerous diagnostic tests, of which I had no clue what they mean since I’m not a computer nerd, it showed I had a hard drive error. Darn it. So, I searched Google to see if anyone else had this problem and if there was fix. After sifting through tons of people basically telling me that my hard drive was a “goner” because my hard drive had been fried by a virus, I found a different perspective: the wonderful cause of the defective hard drive was directly associated with an antivirus software I was using! After simply uninstalling the antivirus software, my computer worked flawlessly. The reason was that the antivirus software was not designed to work correctly (although sometimes it could) with my upgraded Windows 7.
I won’t say what software it was. I am not into bashing certain products. If you want to know then you can ask me personally, but I found it really fascinating that the one thing I relied on to protect my computer’s brain was the one thing that was corrupting it. This brought to mind a spiritual aspect Paul discusses with his audience in Galatians. His main point for the letter was to bring them back to the Gospel of Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone as opposed to a legalistic “gospel” that proclaimed salvation by adherence to the law.
Paul’s intention was never to “bash” the law and state that it served no purpose or had no place.
“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal. 3:23-26)
His intention was to show that:
“…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Gal. 2:16).
Paul shows that the law is deadly when it is applied as the Gospel. Through Christ we are free and are no longer to submit to legalism. Yet, how often do I apply legalism as the Gospel. I put so much trust in doing good things, keeping the “laws” of God, and operating out of legalism instead of out of God’s grace!
Just like I trusted my computer’s antivirus program to protect my computer, which it actually turned out to damage it more, so often do I trust my heart’s “antivirus” program (legalism) to protect my heart, thus hurting ME more. It slows my relationship with God. It “freezes” me in my pursuit of holiness. It discourages me when I try to “operate” in God’s plan for my life. What we need is to apply the new antivirus…the true Gospel of grace.
Let me tie this metaphor together (even though, like all metaphors, it eventually breaks down).
The upgrade to Windows 7 is like Christ’s redemptive work for us (I may get struck by lightning for comparing Windows to that, but oh well). The old antivirus software used is the law. It worked with the old system (pre-Christ) fairly well. Sure, any antivirus shouldn’t be needed, but every computer has problems (metaphor for indwelling sin? Eh, maybe a bit much). The old antivirus didn’t totally fix every problem every time, but it allowed for Vista to operate well. Yet, once the upgrade happened, I no longer needed the old antivirus; I simply needed to apply a “new antivirus.” In fact, by keeping the old one around, I was hurting myself even more.
The same applies to us when we attempt to operate out of legalism (old antivirus) instead of grace (the new antivirus). We are using “old protection” on a system that has been upgraded (Christ’s redemption). Oh yes, legalism can give you a wonderful assurance of security, satisfaction, and self-righteousness, but realistically it will fry your heart (hard drive).
Applying the Gospel to our lives is like using the new antivirus. We have been redeemed by Christ and that gives us freedom! We are not to trust in the old antivirus, but we are to trust in God’s grace of the Gospel! Only when we apply the Gospel will our hearts be free to run without freezes, not slowed down, and never ultimately crash. What was “good” before can be such a detriment to our lives now.
Are you using the old antivirus of legalism to rule your heart? Or are you using God’s antivirus of grace to keep your heart free, running the race set before you? We have a new antivirus that was provided for us by God: grace through Jesus Christ. Will you trust in that or the crutch of legalism to help in your pursuit of holiness?
Ryan Lambros is an FGA member and has worked in youth ministry in several capacities. He graduated from Southwestern College (now Arizona Christian University) with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.