“Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Acts 15:10–11 (NIV84)
Listen to me very carefully. Satan can’t stand the Gospel. He can’t stand the love and the forgiveness that is found at the cross of Jesus Christ. He especially can’t stand that it is offered freely. There is no cost. There are no conditions. God unilaterally and unconditionally loves us so much that He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins so that we would not have to. Done! Finished! Complete! And Satan can’t stand it!
He has to mess it up somehow. He can’t let that powerful of a message be let loose. So, what does He do? He adds on. He slowly begins to creep in requirements and conditions. It doesn’t matter what they are. They can even be good things. Let them be about the time we spend in daily devotions, or the amount we give to the church, or the number of times we attend church. All of these things are good things, but put in the wrong place in our lives we end up like legalistic Pharisees who justify themselves by the things they do, rather than what God has done.
Paul tells us that our Christian life should not be lived out of compulsion. Jesus Himself said that the sheep, when commended for caring for Jesus, said to themselves, “When did we see you hungry and feed you or naked and clothe you?” Our lives should be so focused on the cross and resurrection of Jesus that our transformed lives are lived out naturally and freely. Woe to the pastor or teacher who burdens the consciences of God’s people. Here the words of Peter one more time, “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”