Christ, Our Righteous Garment
Open Your Bible
Galatians 3:15-4:7, Genesis 12:1-9, Romans 3:9-26
BY Missy Fuller
I sat on a plush, cream-colored couch with my mentor, helping her fold a basket of laundry while her two-year-old played on the floor. Now a senior in college, I was involved in campus ministry and leading a Bible study, and I was happily updating her on both. I had just begun telling a story about a friend, when my mentor calmly interrupted me with a simple, matter-of-fact statement: “Missy, you believe a works-based gospel.”
I was stunned. Was she serious? I quickly wrote it off in the moment. But later that week, I found myself kneeling by the side of my bed, soaking my plaid, purple bedspread with tears.
She was right. How had I not seen it before? How did I not know just how wrong I’d gotten it? There I was, wallowing in my sin, wanting desperately to be back in the loving arms of my Savior. I had asked for forgiveness, but the feeling wasn’t coming. As I poured my guilty conscience onto the pages of my journal, I was hit with one word: time.
That’s what I thought I needed: time. I didn’t really want forgiveness. I wanted time—enough time to fill my life up with the right things, good things, to settle the score. It was salvation by works at its finest.
Finally, it hit me. All my striving, all my desire to put time between myself and my mistakes, it was just another attempt to earn my salvation through works.
Our friends in Galatia were struggling in a similar way. They were working their tails off to inherit the promise of Abraham by keeping the law. They’d gotten stuck in the cycle of self-sufficiency, just like I had. They believed the lie that their actions could bring them salvation.
But Paul tells them that the law was never meant to bring us life (Galatians 3:21). Keeping the commands, doing all the right things, is never going to save us. It can’t. It was never supposed to.
Romans 3:20 reminds us that, “no one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law.” No one. Not the Jews living in Galatia, still strictly following the Old Testament law. Not my rule-abiding, college-aged self, riding on her “good-girl” past and church involvement. No one.
Those things cannot save us and they were never meant to. Christ is the only perfect fulfillment, the only victory we have over sin and death. His perfect life allows us to be justified through our faith alone. Faith and nothing else— just Jesus.
I love Paul’s imagery that we are to “put on Christ like a garment” (Galatians 3:27). Our garments cover us. They change our appearance. They become a way for others to identify us and perceive us. Christ’s sacrifice is what covers us before the Father. His sacrificial love changes who we are and how we live. It changes the way others see us and how we identify ourselves. We are no longer under the curse of the law, but under the freedom of Christ’s redemption.
That spring day in college, I realized Jesus truly is all I need. His sacrifice covered me then despite all my striving, and it still does. He is enough.
I don’t need a spotless record to save me. All I need is Jesus.
Friends, no matter what our past, present, or future hold, the only work that can save us is the one completed with a crown of thorns. May we cling only to Christ, our righteous garment.