Why would anyone go back to something that doesn’t work?
Why Jesus? Why did he relinquish his divine authority and be born as a human to live in an oppressed population under the Roman government? Paul says it plainly, ” to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (v 5). Jesus’s purpose was to fulfill the Law that condemns us because we are unequivocally able to keep it.
If we truly understand the implications of our salvation, we should respond with gratitude and joy. Somehow, though, we become convinced that we have to add to what Jesus did by keeping old traditions, maintaining some form of legalistic rule, or worshiping the “right” way – whatever that is. When we fall into that trap of trying to add to Jesus for salvation, justification, and sanctification, we enslave ourselves again to the things from which Jesus freed us. Legalism, as far as being required for salvation is idolatry.
Jesus redeemed us because we couldn’t meet the requirements of the Law; why would we go back to living like the Law still has power over us?
There is nothing wrong with traditions; they remind us of where we used to be. We should be doing good while pursuing justice and mercy; that comes out of the overflow of God’s goodness and mercy toward us. But these things are not ends into themselves, nor do they provide a boost to our salvation. When we look to tradition or deeds as justification as Christians, we willingly go back to being enslaved by the Law and we drag other people with us.
Our adoption as God’s children is complete. Rejoice in that gift of life, being certain that only Jesus is credited with our redemption from slavery under the Law.