Last night, David and I were reading Galatians, and I was particularly struck by several verses.
23They were only hearing it said, He who used to persecute us is now proclaiming the very faith he once reviled and which he set out to ruin and tried with all his might to destroy.
24And they glorified God [as the Author and Source of what had taken place] in me.
I thought it was interesting that Paul thought it important to point out his glee that onlookers were giving God the full credit for what had taken place in his life on Earth, and his point of final destination.
6Moreover, [no new requirements were made] by those who were reputed to be something--though what was their individual position and whether they really were of importance or not makes no difference to me; God is not impressed with the positions that men hold and He is not partial and recognizes no external distinctions--those [I say] who were of repute imposed no new requirements upon me [had nothing to add to my Gospel, and from them I received no new suggestions].
Paul is referring to the controversy over whether Christians ought to submit to the laws of strict Judaism, and specifically whether they ought to be circumcised. His point is that God is not impressed by all the bells and whistles that people try to add to their Christian walk, seeking brownie points and superiority; the only one doing any work or action that amounts to anything is God Himself. Even our best effort and good deed is as dung compared to the awesome, perfect, purity of God.
16Yet we know that a man is justified or reckoned righteous and in right standing with God not by works of the Law, but [only] through faith and [absolute] reliance on and adherence to and trust in Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). [Therefore] even we [ourselves] have believed on Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law [for we cannot be justified by any observance of the ritual of the Law given by Moses], because by keeping legal rituals and by works no human being can ever be justified (declared righteous and put in right standing with God).
To me, the fact that God's love for me and my place in heaven is unconnected to my attempts and failures here on Earth gives such a sense of freedom. Since coming to this knowledge, the yoke has been much easier and the burden much lighter. My relationship with Christ has now become based on an overwhelming sense of gratitude- that He can be what I cannot, and that He has given me the perfect record, the only way I can stand before and in the holiness of God and not be consumed by fire and regret. Praise Jesus!