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Galatians 1:1-24 Galatians 2:1-21 Galatians 3:1-29
Galatians 4:1-31 Galatians 5:1-26 Galatians 6:1-18
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Galatians 3:1-29

 

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?  [flesh Strongs #4561, actual flesh, symbolically physical as opposed to spirit]  Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.  He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.  Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen [Gentiles] through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed.  So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  And the law is not of faith: but The man that doeth them shall live in them.  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:  That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man dissannulleth, or addeth thereto.  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.  And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise.  Wherefore then serveth the law?  It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.  Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.  Is the law then against the promises of God?  God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.  But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  For ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

 

Experience of the Galatians---was it by works of the law or faith in Jesus Christ?

 

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (verses 1-2).  The Greek word for “foolish” is anoetoi, made up of two Greek words, ‘mind’ and ‘not using’, or ‘mindless’.  So Paul is saying “O mindless Galatians”.  “Set forth” means ‘placarded, painted’.  Jesus Christ has been placarded, painted in vivid image before the Galatians by Paul, who vividly proclaimed the facts of the gospel of salvation to them.  What did we learn were the facts of the gospel?  The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  If Paul, as he probably was, at the cross of Jesus and watched him die, he could have painted a pretty graphic picture for the Galatians.  And even though he was not witness to Jesus’ resurrection when Mary, and all the other women, and the 12 apostles were, he was witness to the resurrected Jesus Christ in all his glory, glowing like the sun, on the Damascus Road.  They then had faith in the facts of the gospel and received the Holy Spirit.  They became believers.  That’s how, folks.  No other way.  Here we see Paul gets into a major theme about conversion, was your conversion through the hearing of the word in faith, or was it by the hearing of the Law?  He goes on to prove that it is by faith, which comes by hearing of the Word, which includes the facts about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.  A person then chooses to believe or not to believe those facts.  If a person is being called by God, God himself places his faith in that individual [saving faith], and that person becomes a believer in Jesus Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  That’s it folks, that simple.  (God even places the ability to believe the facts of the gospel within us when he’s calling us.)  Now as some of you know, the Lord called me into a Torah-observant Sabbatarian Church of God.  They taught strict observance to the law.  I remember listening to their radio broadcast as a non-believer.  I was somehow drawn by what they were preaching to have faith in the Word of God and having true faith in Jesus Christ.  Obviously, this faith was a gift of God, saving faith, as some call it, a faith that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, which empowered me as I  was being drawn to Jesus.  I did learn about the Law of God from this Sabbatarian Church of God which I spent 27 years in as an active member.  But I came slowly to learn that any obedience to the law of God is directly by the empowerment of Jesus in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit, and not through any human efforts on my part (God writing his laws in our hearts and minds---that’s Biblical).  I slowly came to realize that the law itself, whichever version you happen to use the way the Bible says believers should use it, serves another function.  We’ll get more into that as we go on through Galatians.  So we see the Bible teaches that faith comes by hearing of the Word, and particularly the facts of the gospel of Christ, and then God provides what I term as ‘a saving faith’, which must, I guess be provided by the Holy Spirit.  This is done for people God is calling (cf. John 6:44).  Nowhere, though, in the Old Testament, or New, did anyone receive the Holy Spirit by their works of obedience to the law.  Scripture tells us the Holy Spirit is evidence of conversion.  Romans 8:9, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”  Let’s look also at Ephesians 1:13, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”  Verses 3-5, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? [“flesh”, Strongs #4561, flesh]  Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.  He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”  If the Holy Spirit is the One who converted you, and as Romans 8:9 and Ephesians 1:13 show, why are you going back to the physical works of the law?  Here it appears Paul is talking about how the Holy Spirit was ministered, given to us.   Was it by faith or was it by the works of the law?  No, obviously it was by faith, is the logical answer.  It also refers to Paul’s ministry to them (the Galatians).  Paul is asking them to recall that it was he who had come into Galatia and preached the Word to them, performing miracles among them.  He didn’t do it by works of the Law, but by preaching the gospel of Christ, the gospel of salvation to them, as well as performing miracles among them.  He preached Christ, the One who died for them, rose to life for them, and it was now Christ they placed their faith in, and then receiving the Holy Spirit as a result.  To sum up, the Holy Spirit came by hearing the simple gospel of salvation, and by having faith in the facts of that gospel.  They then received the Holy Spirit, not by law (or having law preached to them). 

 

The Example of Abraham

 

Galatians 3:6-18, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.  Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen [Gentiles] through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.  So then, they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He saith not, And to many seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.  And this I say, that covenant, that was confirmed before Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”

 

Doctrine of justification

 

Verse 6, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the Lord; and he [the Lord] counted it to him for righteousness.”  Romans 4:3, “For what saith the scripture?  Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”  Abraham was justified by faith, not by his obedience to the Law, since the Law (Mosaic Law) wasn’t given for another 430 years.  The only commandment God gave him was to be circumcised, and this was merely an outward sign of his faith, like baptism is for the believer in Jesus, Yeshua.  Let’s get the full account of Abraham here.  Genesis 15:1-6, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.  And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?  And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and lo, one born in my house is mine heir.  And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.  And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.  And he [Abram] believed in the Lord; and he [the Lord] counted it to him for righteousness.”  Abram, Abraham, being the practical guy he was, said to the Lord, I don’t even have a son yet, and Sarah doesn’t seem to be able to give me one.  God then says, ‘Abraham, look at the stars up there in the sky.  If you can number them, that’s how much I’m going to multiply your seed.  Then Abraham said,
‘OK, I’m going to believe you.’  God then said that he counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness.  The Law wasn’t around yet, codified.  Abraham’s righteousness was only through faith.  Practical application for you and me:  I gave you my Son to die for you.  If you believe on Him you won’t perish, you will have everlasting life.  Do you accept that?  If you do, you are now justified by faith, just as Abraham was.  That is the doctrine of justification.  God is not asking you to do anything except to trust in his Son who died for you.  It is done.  He makes the contract, just as he did with Abraham in Genesis 15:7-19.  “And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.  And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?  And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.  And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another [i.e. he made a path between the divided animals that had been killed and cut in half]: but the birds divided he not [kind of hard to do that].  And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away.”  Now this is how people in the Middle East made a binding contract between two people.  They would do just what Abraham did with the animals, after they had stated the agreement.  God just stated what he was going to do for Abraham.  After stating the agreement, one with another, then both would say “If either one of us fails to keep his side of the agreement, that person will be cut in two, just like these animals.”  Needless to say, this kind of covenant wasn’t done very often.  Now Abraham is waiting, driving off birds of prey from these animals he’s cut in half.  Let’s read on and see what happens.  “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.  And he [the Lord] said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.  And thou shall go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.  But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.  And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.  In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt [the Nile] unto the great river, the Euphrates.  The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, and the Amorites and the Canaanites, and the Jebusites.”  Notice in Genesis 15, “Thy seed”, refers to the many, everyone who would be descended from him, becoming the 12 tribed nation of Israel.  When we pick up with the second justification of Abraham by faith, we will see that “Thy seed” refers to Christ alone, single seed.  This describes the Abrahamic Covenant of faith.  Abraham did not have to walk between the slaughtered pieces of animals, he did not have to do anything.  The Lord God, Yahweh, the One who was to become Jesus Christ, was the only one to walk between the animals, guaranteeing the promise of the Covenant to Abraham.  In Genesis 22, the same Covenant is reconfirmed to Abraham, and at that time, the “one seed” refers to Christ, the coming Messiah.  I don’t know, but the Jews must know that “seed” in Genesis 15 is plural, but in Genesis 22 is singular.  It just doesn’t translate out that way in the English.  But Paul never would have referred to “one seed” in Galatians 3:16 as Christ if it were not evident in the Hebrew where it wasn’t in the English.  God made this covenant with Abraham before the Law was given---430 years before the law was given. 

 

“They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham”

 

“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen [Gentiles] through faith, preached the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed” (verses 7-8).  By having faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ you are now “children of Abraham”, grafted into the same Hebrew root Paul refers to in Romans 11.  When did God preach the gospel to Abraham?  This verse 8 refers to the end of Abrahams life found in Genesis 22:15-18.  Abraham had been told by God to sacrifice his only son on mount Moriah.  Abraham, as Hebrews 11 says, knowing that God could resurrect his son, set about to tie his son up on an altar he had made, and was about to stab his son with a knife.  This was the ultimate test of Abraham’s faith in God.  This was a “work” of faith, faith made perfect through works, but not works of the law, since the law didn’t exist yet.  Genesis 22:15-18, “And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven a second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore [this is still talking about multiple “seed”]; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies [i.e. military choke points, Gibraltar, Suez, Aden, Panama, etc.  Most people don’t realize what that tiny passage refers to.]; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.  That bolded part, “thy seed” must be in the singular in the Hebrew, because Paul translates it in the singular in Galatians 3:16.  Is there a contradiction between what Paul said about Abraham, “righteousness by faith without works” and what James says in James 2:20-22, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with works, and by works was faith made perfect?”  James used the history of Abraham to show that faith without works is dead.  It is taken from the last part of Abraham’s history, not the part of Abraham’s history Paul is referring to in Galatians.  What’s the difference, you may ask?  Paul says that faith alone is sufficient for salvation and proves his point from Abraham’s history as recorded in Genesis 15:1-17.  James goes on to say that faith without works is dead, and proves it by referring to Abraham’s history in Genesis 22:15-18.  The works James is talking about are not works of obedience to the Law.  Why?  How can we know this?  Well, as Paul brings out, and this includes both periods in Abraham’s history, the Mosaic Law hadn’t been given on Mount Sinai, and wouldn’t be for another 400 years (430 years from Genesis 15, and 400 years from Genesis 22).  There is absolutely no contradiction when you examine passages like the ones written by James and Paul.  One is looking at faith in the beginning of a believer’s life.  The other, in James, is looking at faith at the end of a believer’s life.  The root of faith is “faith alone saves you”, but the saving faith will produce works.  [And it is my firm belief that this saving faith also enables us, by the end of our lives, to be living so far above the physical do’s and don’ts of the Law, whether found in the New Testament Law of Christ, or the Old Testament Mosaic Law, that it just isn’t funny.  Paul gets to that later.]  “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (verse 9).  God saves the sinner today the same exact way he saved Abraham---faith is the means by which man is saved today.  The Law never saved one single individual. 

 

“Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”

 

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every man that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.  [i.e. as long as you are using the law for your justification, you’re fine, but one sin, oops, you’ve lost salvation]  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.  One of the standards set out in the Old Testament Mosaic Law of God was “cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”  Obedience, all by the will-power of the individual was required of the Israelites.  The sacrificial part of the Law was set up as a substitutionary blood substitute to cover the sins of the Israelites when they failed by disobedience.  But it was understood that death was the penalty for breaking “any” of God’s laws.  Of course for the more heinous crimes, such as murder, rape, adultery, the death penalty was applied, and there were other penalties that accompanied the law.  These were originally given not as just religious laws, but laws to maintain a healthy society.  It should be realized, that in general, no salvation was offered to the Israelites for obedience (none would have qualified for salvation by obedience anyway).  What was offered, on the national level,  was blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.  See Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, which lists these.  Israel’s and Judah’s history shows they reaped more curses than blessings nationally.  The laws of sacrifice pointed to Christ’s substitutionary blood sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (verse 13).  This is quoted from the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 21:22-23, “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”  Christ was “made a curse for us”, in our stead, as he died on the cross, when he died on the cross.  He paid the price---redeemed us (and the whole world, cf. John 3:16) for the sins we’ve committed, the laws of God we’ve broken.  He was made a curse for us.  And he did this “so that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, so that we might receive “the promise of the Spirit”.  “That the blessings of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (verse 14). 

 

The “One Seed”

 

“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.  And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (verses 16-18).  God called Abraham and promised to bless the whole world through his seed.  But in this verse (16), this promise is talking about one Seed, Jesus Christ.  Paul is now pointing out that the Abrahamic Covenant was made with Abraham 430 years before the Mosaic Law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai right here in Genesis 15, and reaffirmed in Genesis 22:15-18.  So the Law has no power to “disannul” the Abrahamic Covenant.  Part of that Abrahamic Covenant was to give his descendants the land of Israel.  Yeah, they could lose it temporarily through national sin (721BC for Israel, 603-585BC for Judah), but God holds the deed to that property, and ultimately it will go back to the seed, as in many, of Abraham, along with the saints of God at the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.  And they and we will inherit it for ever and ever.  But the other part of the Abrahamic Covenant was the promise of the “One Seed”, the promise of the Messiah, through the line of Abraham and David, and the resultant salvation through him.  That means the Law has no power to cancel, “disannul” salvation which is through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  So, verse 18, the promise of One Seed, concerning Christ and salvation through him was given 430 years before the giving of the Law on Sinai.  “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (verse 18). 

 

The Purpose of the Law

 

“Wherefore then serveth the law?  It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.  Is the law then against the promises of God?  God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.  But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:19-24).  The law was added because of transgression, until the Seed should come.  “Wherefore then serveth the law?  It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator” (verse 19).  Old Testament Israel, without the Holy Spirit, had no real way of keeping the Law of God perfectly, or as a civil nation, of maintaining social order perfectly.  Understand, the “nation of Israel” was a physical nation of people.  It was a theocracy, meaning God, Yahweh was the King of Israel, but they traded in God for physical kings.  So, the Old Testament Law of God was also the “law of the land” given to keep crime in check and maintain a “healthy society.”  It carried with it literal penalties for disobedience, and capital punishment for serious crimes that hurt society the most.  Today, mankind does not agree as to what a serious socially destructive crime is compared to what God knew was a serious socially destructive crime.  The family unit is the health and strength of any nation.  Rome when she first started out was a strong, healthy and powerful nation that grew to empire.  The family unit was strong in Rome.  But it’s democratic form of government provided a way for laws to be passed, as time went on, that were destructive to the family structure.  The Roman Empire, the most powerful the world has ever seen, came crashing down.  Leviticus 18 and 20 shows some of those socially healthy laws that carried death penalties for disobedience.  America in it’s beginning patterned many of its laws after the Old Testament Law of Moses, and remained a strong healthy nation.  Now our democratic system is allowing those laws to be destroyed.  Our family unit is crumbing through divorce rates spiraling upwards, co-habiting couples that don’t get married, children who don’t know who their father is, raised by single moms.  So the Law of Moses was a good law, set in motion to govern a physical nation.  It also served as that nations’ religious law.  But as a religious law, it basically failed, because the Old Covenant made between God and the children of Israel basically said that the children of Israel agreed to keep the entire law of God, all on their own---with no help from God.  So the law of God went only so far, and that was in maintaining the social health of a nation of people who knew who the real God of heaven and earth was, but at a distance in any spiritual capacity to obey Yahweh or his laws.  But that phrase, “until the seed should come” is an important break in what the purpose of the Law of God was, whether that be Mosaic or New Testament ‘Law of Christ.’  At this point, the actual purpose of the law changed, although a physical shadow for this New Testament purpose is given in the Old Testament.  We’ll see what that shadow was shortly.  But many sincere Christians and pastors alike do not fully realize that the Law of God (either one, whichever a believer chooses to look into, although the New Testament Law of Christ is far more useful) has a tremendous purpose for New Testament believers in Jesus Christ.  Any pastor who says “The Law is done away” had better read this study carefully, and adjust their beliefs and preaching appropriately.  We’ll see why shortly. 

 

The law has no power to save a person

 

“Is the law then against the promises of God?  God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have come by the law.  But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (verses 21-22).  The law in and of itself has no power to save a person.  So what is the law for?  One, as verse 22 shows, it concludes the whole world under sin.  As Paul says in Romans 3:19-20, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God…”  So the Law of God (whichever version you wish to look at, Old Testament or New Testament ‘law of Christ’) shows us we’re all sinners, come short of the glory of God.  What is sin, anyway?  The apostle John tells us in 1st John 3:4, “Sin is the transgression of the law.”  The last part of this verse 22 is beautiful, “that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”  So before we became believers in Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection, we were all under the condemnation of the law---up ‘unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”  “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (verse 23). 

 

The Law of God (whichever version) is a spiritual mirror

 

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (verse 24).  An important thing to realize---the Law has not been “done away” as some sincere but misguided preachers and pastors may preach and believe.  The Law of God (whichever version you may look at) is still here and will be until the coming of the new heavens and the new earth at the conclusion of God’s plan of salvation for mankind in Revelation 21:1.  Let’s read what Matthew 5:17-19 says about this, a direct quote of Jesus Christ.  “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass (cf. Revelation 20:14-15; 21:1), one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”  And then through verses 20-48 Jesus goes on to describe the New Testament ‘Law of Christ.  But, as I said, the purpose of the Law of God (whichever one a person chooses to look at) has changed radically.  It has changed from a set of requirements that people agreed to keep, and must keep, all on their own, reaping only national blessings for obedience and national curses for disobedience.  In the Old Covenant, obedience NEVER brought spiritual salvation, although the Jews later on thought that it did.  True Judaism was a set of laws given to a nation for the social maintenance of that nation.  The purpose of the Law of God has changed to that of being a SPIRITUAL MIRROR for believers and prospective believers.  The Law now has two basic purposes, one for prospective believers, and the other for believers in Jesus Christ.  1) To those who are coming into, being drawn by God into a knowledge of salvation, the Law brings the knowledge that we’re goners as far as salvation is concerned, “we’ve all sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”, and 1st John 3:4, “Sin is the transgression of the law.”  So the Law for the prospective believer doesn’t justify, it condemns.  It points the way to Christ, and why you need a Savior.  2) But what purpose, you may ask, does the Law serve (either version) for the believer?  In every bathroom (that I know of) is a sink and mirror above it on the wall.  In our downstairs bathroom there’s a large mirror on the shower sliding door, another large full-size one on the door, and one over the sink (ladies love mirrors---good thing for us guys, helps them keep themselves pretty---but not through the mirror alone).  Say you’ve been working on the engine of your car.  You’ve been working all day on it, but tonight you’ve got this hot date you’re going on.  You don’t want any grease or grime on you.  You’re covered, fore-arms, hands and face.  You can see your hands and fore-arms, but not your face.  You have to look into the mirror to see what’s on your face.  Now the mirror doesn’t clean your face, and no amount of looking at the mirror will clean the grease and grime off.  It is only the soap and water in the sink that will clean the grease and grime off your face.  The Bible speaks of us being “washed in the Word.”  That means two things, the written Word, and the Living Word of God, Jesus (John 1:1-14).  One of the symbols for the Holy Spirit is water (Jesus in John 7:37-39).  But also, more importantly, Jesus in John 1:1-14 is called the Word of God.  As John chapters 14 & 16 show, the Word, Jesus, dwells in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit who dwells within us.  Paul says in Romans 7:7, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin?  God forbid: Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”  Paul also said in Romans 3:19-20, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall be no flesh justified in his sight: …” (verses 19 -20a), (first purpose of the law, for the prospective believer.) “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (verse 20b). Did you catch that?  Paul then goes on to say in Romans 3:31, “Do we make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”  But the law has a new purpose.  It’s been established as a mirror (which it always has been, in reality).  Paul then says both believing Jews and Gentiles are justified now through faith (Romans 3:30), and that the promise through Abraham is through faith, not law, (Romans 4:13-14).  Now lets see the mirror in use.  James 1:22-25, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his face in a glass [mirror]: For he beholdeth himself and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”  So how does a Christian or Messianic Jewish believer in Jesus use the law?  We’re under grace, saved through faith, right?  He looks into the law as James says, he sees dirt (i.e. sin being dirt in this analogy).  He doesn’t just walk away forgetting what he saw (well, some do, as James points out).  What do you do when you see dirt, grease and grime on your face?  You use the mirror to locate it, and then you wash it off---with the mirror?  No silly person---with the soap and water in the sink.  You don’t wash either by rubbing your face against the mirror.  God’s Word, both the written and the Living Word, Jesus (through the indwelling Holy Spirit) are the soap and water.  When you look into the ‘perfect law of liberty’ as James says, you see the dirt, and you then go to Jesus (and the Father) in prayer and ask, beg at times, for him to heal you of the sin, dirt.  We all have various sins that are our particular weakness.  No person is the same, one man’s weakness is another’s strength.  The Ten Commandment’s break down sin into 10 basic areas or categories.  Paul a little further on in Galatians breaks these down a little bit differently, but covers the same basic things.  Again, Paul said in Romans 7:7 he wouldn’t have known sin except through the law of God, that he wouldn’t have known lusting had the law not said “Don’t covet” (10th Commandment).  Jesus mentions lusting and hating in Matthew chapter 5, two of the Ten Commandments, and brings them to their spiritual intent.  But identifying and coming to know our particular spiritual weaknesses, sins, doesn’t get rid of them, and as we’ve seen throughout Old Testament history, the Israelites and Jews could never rid themselves of sin all on their own.  So you look into the “perfect law of liberty”, spot what’s wrong with you.  What do you do then?  The Pharisaic Jew in Jerusalem at the time of Paul would say, ‘Tough it up, boy, obey, or else.’  But as outwardly obedient as they appeared, they murdered Jesus Christ, breaking a whole slew of commandments.  So pulling yourself up by your own boot-straps won’t work, Bible history proves that.  It’s like trying to wash without soap and water, you have only the mirror.  Can’t do it.  Ancient Israel and Judah had the mirror but they never had the soap and water.  So when you look into the “mirror” of “God’s law of liberty” and see a sin, recognize a sinful weakness in your character, then what?  You go to Jesus and the Father in sincerity, and ask to be healed of that sin, going deep down into the root and motives of it.  I have seen people with various addictions healed of their alcoholism, drug addictions, wrong sexual lifestyles, or any other kind of wrong lifestyle, lying, cheating, thievery (whether defined in God’s law or not), and they were healed by God, supernaturally, through his Holy Spirit, God, Jesus dwelling in us.  Smoking is an addiction, I know, I couldn’t quit.  I swear they must put drugs in them.  With prayer, mine and a pastor’s, I was able to walk away from them, and that, without any effort.  It was a total healing. I have witnessed the same thing with alcoholics.  12-step program, didn’t work.  Alcoholics Anonymous, didn’t work.  God, Jesus, they were healed, period, through the divine supernatural power given to them through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Now here’s an interesting thing.  Just so you don’t think this “spiritual mirror” analogy isn’t in the Old Testament, let’s look at Exodus 30:17-21 and 38:8.  Exodus 30:17-21, “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: when they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offerings made by fire unto the Lord…”  Exodus 38:8, “And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the [brazen] lookinglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”  As you see, Aaron and his sons the priests had to wash in this huge bronze bowl shaped basin.  It was made of highly polished bronze woman’s looking glasses (mirrors, probably taken from Egypt when they fled with Moses).  Notice the priests had to fill this highly reflective bowl with water, and then they had to wash before entering into the tabernacle and God’s presence.  They saw their reflection in the bottom of this highly polished bowl, and then they washed the dirt off with the water.  That brazen laver is symbolic of God’s law, and the water in it is symbolic of the Holy Spirit in operation within the New Testament believer.  That is a direct picture of what James is talking about in James 1:22-25.  In fact, James during his lifetime, before he was killed by the Jews, spent a lot of time praying in the Temple, right within the Holy of Holies (must have amazed the high priest, but they didn’t dare touch him for awhile).  James must have walked past this brazen bowl many times on the way in and out of the Temple.  Whether he felt compelled to wash up as the priests were commanded is open to conjecture, since he must have understood it was only a shadow for a spiritual reality. That, folks, is the purpose of the Law of God for the New Testament believer, whether he or she be a Christian or Messianic Jewish believer in Yeshua haMeshiach.  The Law of God is a mirror for us, nothing less, nothing more.  Some of the super-grace oriented churches don’t even like to look at the law at all (some I’m sure, due to the fact that they don’t fully understand what Paul and James said the law is now meant to be for believers).  But this is a balanced and Scriptural picture of what the Law of God is now for us.  It doesn’t clean the dirt, sin from our lives.  More on that later.  Neither is the mirror, God’s law, “done away with” as Matthew 5:17-19 says.  When does Jesus say the law will be done away with?  Not till heaven and earth pass away (cf. Matthew 5:17-19; Revelation 21:1).  So the purpose of God’s law is now: 1) initially for the prospective believer, to show him himself for who he really is, a sinner, fallen short of the grace of God, without hope in the world.  2), As we believers in Jesus look into the mirror, God’s law, we see dirt, sin (cf. James 1:22-25), and then ask Jesus Christ to heal us of what we see, washing us through the Holy Spirit.  The mirror doesn’t heal us of sin, just reveals the sin.

 

The Law was a “schoolmaster”,

what does that mean?

 

 “But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (verse 25).  Again, that has already been explained.  After Christ has come, died, been buried, and then resurrected, and the Holy Spirit has come, we are no longer under the Old Testament “schoolmaster”, a law set up over a society, God’s society, to protect it and to bring it to Christ, who has a better way.  As we have seen, the purpose of the law has been changed. In the Greek “schoolmaster” is paidagogos.  It doesn’t really mean “schoolmaster” in our sense of the word. In the Roman Empire some of the wealthy, many in fact, had slaves that were put in charge of the household and children of their owners.  Their job was to raise the children from infancy, dressing them, changing them, disciplining them, from an early age.  And when the kids were old enough to start going to school they would bring them to school, and then bring them back home.  But once the children were old enough to go to school and learn in school, the paidagogos’ job with instructing the children was finished, he couldn’t do any more for them in their education.  The Mosaic Law of God was that type of “schoolmaster”, keeping Hebrew society in check and healthy socially, up until the Master Rabbi, Jesus the Messiah came, and faith through Jesus came.  Then the Mosaic Law, the “schoolmaster”, as Paul says, was finished.  After 135AD, when Judea and Jerusalem were essentially demolished by the Roman army, and the civil authority was permanently destroyed by Rome, no temple, 85 towns left standing out of over 1,000 in Judea, there was no more “schoolmaster”, and really no need of one.  A non-existent nation doesn’t need a civil law.  The “schoolmaster” is essentially saying, ‘Hey kids, I can’t do anything for you anymore, time to go learn from the Master Rabbi.’  It was now time to go learn in school, the paidagogos’ job in instructing the kids was finished.

 

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body”

 

“For ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (verses 26-29).  “Children” of God in verse 26 is the Greek word huios, meaning “sons”.  Only faith in Christ can make us legitimate “sons” of God.  In the Old Testament the Israelites, and even Moses, Joshua, David and the holy Prophets were called “servants of God”, never “children of God”.  Only Abraham was called “A friend of God.”  This verse is saying that we are made “sons of God” (and “daughters of God”) “through faith in Jesus Christ.”  That’s it folks, faith in Jesus Christ = sonship.  That’s the spiritual equation.  “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (verse 27).  This is not referring to physical water baptism, that’s a ritual.  This is referring to  the baptism of God’s Holy Spirit coming upon us and into us.  Water baptism is important as a symbolic outward sign of your faith in Jesus Christ, and as John Wesley said, is for believers.  Biblically as seen in Acts, it should be by total immersion.  1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”  And that brings us to verse 28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (verse 28).  How?  Through the Spirit who dwells in us (1 Corinthians 12:13), which is how Jesus and the Father dwell in us (cf. John 14 & 16).  1 Corinthians shows exactly why there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female.  The Holy Spirit who indwells each believer makes him, her, bond, free, Jew and Gentile “one in Christ.”  Now folks, the last verse, and good news.  “And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (verse 29).  If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, Christian, or a believer in Yeshua haMeshiach [Jesus the Messiah in Hebrew], you are really Abraham’s seed---as in many seed.  You with Abraham are to be recipients of the promises made to Abraham.  One promise is salvation through the One Seed, which is Christ.  But after the second coming of Christ, we will all share in Abraham’s inheritance, ruling over Israel and the world under Christ, the soon coming King of the world (cf. Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 5:9-10).  (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm.)  But how can we be Abraham’s descendants?  Abraham was saved by faith, and we are saved by faith.  Hebrews 11:8-12, “ By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.  By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles [tents] with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God [cf. Revelation 21:1-17].  Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age [90 years old], because she judged him faithful who had promised.  Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.”  [copyright © UNITYINCHRIST.COM 2009]

 

To read an excellent article which makes the various covenants of God clear and easy to understand, log onto:
  http://www.unityinchrist.com/newcovenant/TheNEWCOVENANT.htm

 

To read a balanced study on Law & Grace, see: https://unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm

 

 

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