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Galatians Part 3: An Unsaving Law

Discussion in 'Bible Study Q & A' started by Robert, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. Robert

    Robert Well-Known Member

    (Yes, I know the title is not proper grammar or spelling! :lol: )

    In Part 2 of the Galatians study, we saw as Paul explains to the believers in Galatia that his ministry was God-ordained and appointed, and that the Jews from Jerusalem were not. They had been trying to bind the churches in the province under the Law in order to spite Paul and harm him through those he ministered to. Now in chapter 3 of Galatians, Paul (under the inspiration of the Lord) undertakes the task of discerning the Galatians' wavering belief:

    "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" (Galatians 3:1-5, NASB, emphasis mine)

    Paul exposes here the core of their doubt: they are still in the flesh and are not relying on the Holy Spirit. They are not basing their belief on faith, but are instead on the circumstances around them. Rather than trust that the Lord has indeed set them free, they panicked when the Legalists from Jerusalem tried to burden them with Levitical Law and thought they needed to serve the Lord by first being good Jews. Paul has to ask them if they think believe that the Lord, who is spirit and has begun the work in them in spirit, is now finishing that work by their flesh.

    The Lord (through Paul) establishes here that faith, not the Law, is what saved Abraham:

    "Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer." (Galatians 3:6-9, NASB, emphasis mine)

    It is made clear here by the Lord that since Abraham trusted in God by faith, then those who also trusted in God with that same faith would be considered Abraham's children. Physical relationship to Abraham by blood lineage or religious relation by Judaism meant nothing in the face of the faith that was purchased by the precious blood shed for our sakes at Golgotha by Jesus Christ:

    "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:10-14, NASB, emphasis mine)

    The Law cannot save, because all of us sin; as sinners, we are automatically guilty before God under the Law. In fact, the Law is the opposite of faith, and exists not to save but to condemn. Christ, on the other hand, came to die and become cursed under the Law so that the debt would be paid and those who believed would be freed of it. In this, Paul demonstrates to the Galatians that they cannot be under the Law and under grace at the same time, now that Christ had died and risen for the sin of the world:

    "Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise." (Galatians 3:15-18, NASB, emphasis mine)

    God Almighty explains through Paul's pen hand here that the covenant he initially set with Abraham was not then beset with conditions: faith is still faith, and the same faith that Abraham believed with is the same faith that we are to believe with. Yes, Abraham was not perfect and sinned. But it wasn't his being perfect, but rather his trusting in the Lords' promises, that was credited to him as righteousness. God's promise wasn't mandated by the Law, but instead existed long before the Law.

    Paul then explains the purpose of the Law:

    "Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." (Galatians 3:19-22, NASB, emphasis mine)

    The Law came into existence to show what sin was; without the Law, there would be no contrast to show where wrong had been done against the Lord, and sin committed. The Law remained in place until the One whom would redeem us came and fulfilled the requirements of the Law. Until then, all kept under the Law as all had sinned, and all the Law could do was condemn and declare us guilty. it could not save us, and no amount of "rules-keeping" could do a single thing to wash away the stain that sin had left upon mankind.

    Paul concludes the chapter with this:

    "But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise." (Galatians 3:23-29, NASB, emphasis mine)

    The Lord makes it very clear here that the purpose of the Law was to point out our need for Jesus Christ. Once we believe on Him and trust Him to save us, the Law falls away. Now, I am not talking about tossing out the Ten Commandments, and neither was the Lord when He said this. As a point of fact, the following two commandments spoken by Jesus sum up the Decalogue:

    "But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:34-39, NASB, emphasis mine)

    What Jesus was talking about was that this: the Law demonstrated how a perfect man would act before the Lord. Because we are tainted with sin, this standard is impossible for us to meet. Because of sin, the human heart is selfish and cannot meet the requirements of the Law, because the only way the Law can be truly obeyed is with a heart that loves God and its' neighbors. But with the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, the standard is met and we have forgiveness through Christ's perfect sacrifice.

    And this was Paul's point: if the Galatians were trying to be good Jews in order to be good Christians, then they were trying to go in two opposite directions! Either Christ's sacrifice was sufficient, or they were trying to substitute their own works and standing as a "sacrifice."

    And scripture tells us that our works are as "filthy rags":

    "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." (Isaiah 64:6, NASB)

    By extension, this applies to us as well: we do not obey God to remain saved, but we do so because we love the Lord and seek to follow Him. In the end, it is not our adherence to rules that saves us, but the Lord's blood shed on the cross. We obey out of love and not legal requirements, and we seek to honor the Lord and show that love in obedience. Scripture calls obedience "better than sacrifice", but that obedience has to be of one's heart and not forced. No Law can force a man to love against his will, and this is what the Jews from Jerusalem who misled the Galatians failed to grasp...

    ..and their "obedience" was little more than a religious show.

    In Part 4, Paul continues to explain, using the example of a child in relation to his parent.

    I bid you all peace.


    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  2. mattfivefour

    mattfivefour Well-Known Member

    Excellent! :thumbup

    I particularly liked this:

  3. Meg

    Meg Well-Known Member

    This is a beautiful study, Robert. :hug :hug :hug
  4. LivnForChrist

    LivnForChrist Jesus Christ is Lord

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