Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, Ro. 5:20
What, then, is the grace by which we’re saved and under which we live? Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgment. It’s the love of God shown to the unlovely. It is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him.
Grace stands in direct opposition to any supposed worthiness on our part. To say it another way: Grace and works are mutually exclusive. As Paul said in Romans 11:6, “If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Our relationship with God is based on either works or grace. There’s never a works-plus-grace relationship with Him.
Furthermore, grace doesn’t first rescue us from the penalty of our sins, furnish us with some new spiritual abilities, then leave us on our own to grow in spiritual maturity. Rather, as Paul said, “He who began a good work in you [by His grace] will [also by His grace] carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”
Paul asks us today, as he asked the Galatian believers, “After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to obtain your goal by human effort?” Galatians 3:3. Although the issue of circumcision was the specific problem Paul was addressing, notice that he didn’t say, “Are you trying to attain your goal by circumcision?” He generalized his question and dealt not with the specific issue of circumcision, but with the broader problem of trying to please God by human effort, any effort—even good Christian activities and disciplines performed in a spirit of legalism.