Thursday, September 15, 2022

Galatians Words ~ Word 8: Law


Galatians Words ~ Word 8: Law

In the last verse of Galatians chapter 2 Paul said,

“I do not set aside [or nullify] the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:21

Leon Morris explains this verse:

“To nullify grace would be to put one’s trust, not in salvation as God’s free gift, but in one’s own efforts. To do this is to reject grace altogether, and relying on one’s puny effort means that one nullifies grace.”

As we saw in Tuesday’s post, keeping the law could not provide what Christ gave us. So, why did they have the law at all? Paul will explain in chapter 3 why the law was given and the purpose it served.

The Judaizers believed that by keeping the law God’s people would obtain the salvation of God. This was the message they were trying to push on the Galatians. As we begin chapter 3 Paul gets very personal with the Galatians and reminds them of the personal experience they had with Christ:

“Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?Galatians 3:3

Paul reminds them that the gospel that was preached to them portrayed Christ as crucified (3:1) – His life given for their salvation. He reminds them that it was not by works of the law that they received the Spirit but through the gospel message they heard and believed (3:2,5).

Paul will now turn to Scripture and the example of Abraham to show that righteousness with God is through faith and not the law. God considered Abraham a righteous man because he believed God (3:6) and God promised Abraham that all nations -including Gentile nations – would be blessed through him. So, we are considered righteous and blessed by God through faith alone (3:6-9).

On the other hand, when one insists that grace alone is not sufficient for righteousness then they are cursed, because is is impossible for one to perfectly keep every part of the law. The law cannot justify man. And so, Paul tells us, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. Galatians 3:13-14

‘Tree’ is simply a term the Greeks used for a cross meant for crucifixion of criminals. Christ crucified on the cross removes the curse we are under when we try to become righteous by our own effort. The curse is removed, and we receive the blessing of righteousness with God through faith in Christ, “who loved us and gave himself for us” (2:20).

The promise made through Abraham holds true for all eternity. God is faithful in keeping his promises The law does not set aside the covenant, or promise, established by God (3:15-18). “What, then, was the purpose of the law?” (3:19). Paul goes on to explain in verses 19-25, that the law was added because of man’s transgressions. Man continually failed to be faithful to God, and so the law was added through Moses to help expose man to his sinfulness, but it was never intended to make men righteous. It was put in place until the Seed (Abraham’s promised offspring) had come. The Seed is Christ (3:16) and God’s promise to Abraham is given through faith in Christ “to those who believe” (3:22). Here is the bottom line:

“Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.  Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.Galatians 2:23-25

The law still serves us today. Not the 600+ laws of behavior that the Pharisees developed, but the law of God given to Moses in the 10 commandments. The law reveals our sin to us and reveals that we are all sinners. But simply obeying the law, as we have seen, does not serve to justify us and count us as righteous before God. The law prepares the way for the gospel. It makes us aware of our sin and shows us our need for a Savior. After we have put our faith in Christ, the law then helps us live out the grace of God as His faithful and holy people through the power of the Holy Spirit.

With today's word I now complete side one of my accordion journal. 

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