Monday, August 11, 2008

Galatians 3

Galatians 3
1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
6Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." 11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." 13Christ 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." 14He 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.
15Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
19What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.
21Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.


“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” What a way to start a chapter! Paul goes right into the foolishness of going back to the Law once one has found Grace. What foolishness to forsake freedom for slavery! Paul reminds them how he presented Christ crucified for them, and that they did not find Grace and freedom through observing the Law. If one has fallen into legalism, one should ask, “was if by the works of observing the Law, or by believing in Jesus that saved them? Even more, one need remember that if one can not be saved through observing the Law and its requirements, why go back to it and try to save one’s self by human effort?

It is by grace we are saved, and by grace, we are sustained. Many have forgotten this, or worse never have been taught this. So many are taught that they must “do” something to maintain, or sustain, or somehow keep themselves saved. What bondage some are in, as I was myself so many years, foolishly thinking I can add to the finished works of Jesus. The Galatians had been persecuted and even suffered for their faith, yet; still some did not hold to the truth of the power of the Gospel of Grace to save them and returned to their own effort. Even miracles happened and Paul points to them as proof these miracles were to confirm the truth he imparted to them.

I believe that Paul addresses a misunderstanding that might have come from James. Not that James did not understand Grace; yet, some may have taken what James stated, “faith without works is dead” and twisted it to mean that one must do the works of the Law to sustain their salvation. Paul refers earlier to “certain men that came from James” in chapter 2. Yet, I am sure that James teaching was not in returning to the Law, but an exhortation to live the faith and Life imparted to us through Jesus Christ.

Paul makes it clear that Abraham was a saved through faith, “"He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." and that Abraham’s belief was credited as righteousness. We too, are given credit for our faith, which in itself is a gift from God, and Christ’s righteousness is imputed, to us. Our belief is the response to the actions God took for our salvation.
Further Paul points out that those that rely on observing the Law are under a curse. For to put faith in the Law is to not have faith in Jesus. If one chooses the path of relying on the Law for their righteousness, they must hold to all of it perfectly. If one does not do so, then they will receive the promise of the curse. Even Jesus who held the Law perfectly was cursed as he was “hanged on a tree.” The cross was the curse, or promise that reveals that we will die for our sins. Now, Jesus did not sin, yet was willing to be cursed for our sake. How then if one perfect, received the promised curse, do we expect anything else ourselves?

Paul again tells the purpose of the Law. It is to reveal our sinful transgressions. For the Law cannot give life, but only reveal our death. It was given to reveal that the wages of sin is death.

Paul states the Law is not of faith. One cannot have faith and still hold to their own works of righteousness to save them. To think one can save themselves by their own righteousness denies that they need Jesus. The Law was given to show us we need Jesus! Is the law then opposed to the promise of God? Certainly not as Paul states. Yet, as Paul points out if Life could have come through the Law, then God would have not needed to send His Son to die for us and raise again to new Life so we might be part of the Promise.

This saving faith in Christ Jesus was locked away and hidden until Christ came to reveal it. The Law was given to lead us to Christ Jesus. To make us fall on the mercy of God for salvation and New Life. Now, if one has found faith in Christ, the Law is no longer needed to supervise us for we have become sons of God by our faith in Jesus. For we now are baptized in Christ… we are immersed in Him… we are clothed in Him. No longer do we look at each other as Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free… we now only see each other as joint heirs to all the promises of God. What a joy to know we are accepted in Christ. So many never know acceptance on a human level; how much more the acceptance of God Himself. Even knowing all our sin, and still choosing to love and accept us for the sake of Christ’s obedience. May this draw us ever deeper into the great love of God. May this compel us to learn the Way of Love.

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