When we read the Old Testament, it is not rare that we are surprised by the sins of the people of Israel. They were so quick to forget the great works of God and to turn to the worship of made up idols. After they have seen God sending the 10 plagues over Egypt, setting them free from slavery, from the hands of Pharaoh, and making them cross the sea on dry land, they turned their back to God and worshiped a golden calf. Then the question we ask is how could they? They saw with their own eyes the great miracles of the hand of God; how could they turn their back to Him so quickly?
But when we read the New Testament, we also see Paul exhorting the churches of the Galatians for similar behavior. He said,
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6).
Paul’s was saying to the Galatians, how could you? How could they turn their back to the God who showed them so great grace and power on the cross and, on their case, go back to legalism? Paul was surprised.
But I am also surprised. Not only with the people of Israel or with the churches of Galatia from almost 2000 years ago. I am surprised with my self, with how quick I am to forget the amazing works of the Gospel in my life and to go back to a self-centered life. And that is because I don’t contemplate the works that God has done in me, as I should. I don’t contemplate the Gospel, as I should. Milton Vincent wrote in his book A Gospel Primer:
Not knowing what to do with the gospel once they are saved, they lay it aside soon after conversion so they can move on to “bigger and better” things (even Scriptural things). Of course, none of us thinks this is what we are doing at the time, yet after many years of floundering in defeat we can look back and see that this is exactly what we have done.
The Gospel is the message about the greatest miracle ever. It is the “power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16). Through the Gospel God gave us salvation; not salvation from the Egyptian Pharaoh, but from the bondage of sin (John 8:34-36). Through the Gospel God satisfied us; not with manna in the desert, but with the Bread of Life and the Living Water, Jesus (John 6:51 and John 4:14). Through the Gospel God provided us a way; not through the Red Sea, but a spiritual Way that leads directly to Him (John 14:6). Through the Gospel God gave us His laws; not the ones written on stones, but the one He Himself wrote in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). Through the Gospel God conquered for us a promise land; not the Jerusalem in the Middle East, but a celestial one in which we’ll spend the eternity with Him (Revelation 21:2-4).
So when we look back into our lives, after remembering the truths of the Gospel, and we see our self-center exalting behavior, we should ask ourselves, how could we? How many times (daily) do we turn our backs to God and forget His wonderful works?
May the truths of the Gospel abide in us everyday of our lives so that we can no longer live for ourselves, but let Christ live in us (Galatians 2:20).