The Law as Tutor
Galatians 3:1-25 (Pastor Brian)
Faith or Observance of the Law
1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing? 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? 6 Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 7 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8 The 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.” 9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. 10 All 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.” 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” 13 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.” 14 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.
The Law and the Promise
15 Brothers, 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. 16 The 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. 17 What 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. 18 For 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. 19 What, 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. 20 A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one. 21 Is 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. 22 But 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. 23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
Sons of God
26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Hymn “Free from the Law, O happy condition!…Grace has redeemed us, once for all.”
That reinforces the truth that Paul is writing about in the first few chapters.
- Established his credentials as an apostle
- Shown he’s on par with Peter and the others
He used to go and preach to the Jews in the synagogues, and he would reveal that Jesus was the Messiah – the foreshadowing, the types, conditions, and prophecies, of everything in the Old Testament. But, many Jews were still mesmerized by the Law, unable to see the Life Giver apart (or by) the Law Giver (Moses).
Paul had preached in Galatia and they’d believed and been filled with joy – their sins were forgiven and they’d rejoiced. However, after he left, the Judaizers would come along and “upset the apple cart” – try to make Paul’s gospel sound irrelevant and void. These Law-Insisters had said, “Sure thing, believe in Jesus, but you’re only REALLY saved IF you ALSO follow the Law…”
Paul was pretty upset that these Galatians who’d once celebrated in grace were now going back and being crushed by the Law.
- Chp 1-2 – establishing his authority as an apostle
- Chp 3-4 – establishing the relevancy and truth of his gospel – not received by man but from Christ himself
He wants them to understand the PURPOSE of the Law and how long it should last.
Also, understand the PURPOSE of their incorporation into the body of Christ.
Think on this. Pastor Heo writes to us and says, “You foolish AICF! Who has bewitched you…”
This is how Paul is writing – frustration, sorrow, trying to shock them into perceiving and seeing what he really wants to write. It seems that the devil had used the false gospel peddlers to blind them to the truth – using carnal desires. They have been blinded to grace and are going back to the Law. Paul later writes “Have I labored in vain? Have you believed in vain?”
Those of the flesh always oppose those of the Spirit. Nevertheless, cast out the bond-woman and her son (they represent the Law).
Paul is venting:
Before your very eyes, Christ was crucified – Paul’s preaching was so clear and vivid that they could actually, nearly perceive him like that.
Did you receive the Spirit by observing the Law???? Or by believing what you heard? (i.e. “You guys should know from your own experience that FAITH is the way, not merely keeping the Law.” Cornelius was a prime example – yes, he’d done good works, but that was BECAUSE OF his faith. The Ethiopian eunuch was also like this. By his faith, he believed and the Spirit drove him to immediately become baptized. Many others were like this – those at Pentecost as well. Lydia, the seller of purple was there at the prayer meeting by the riverside and she received the Living Water of Christ by hearing, and believing – responding in faith. Also in Ephesus, Paul could see that something had been missing in their experience, and that they hadn’t heard the FULL good news, so Paul asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit?” They’d not even heard of this. They’d been baptized into repentance by John the Baptist – but he’d also said to “believe on the One who comes after me.”
Paul is saying, “this is exactly how you responded – BY FAITH.”
Paul is reminding them of their own experience and getting them to remember the truth. In this personal application, they ought to know that it is by faith in Christ they are saved.
Next, Paul argues from the Scriptures using Abraham.
He quotes Genesis 15:6
At that point, Abraham was kind of complaining to God about not having any heir of his own flesh to inherit everything. Eleazor of Damascus was the closest servant. But God said, “No, no, you’ll have a boy. In fact, you’ll have so many kids and grandkids it’ll be like looking into the skies at the stars.” And he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.
He did lapse in faith from time to time, but he continually persevered and clung to the Promises of God.
God is calling Abram out of Haran – “Get away from your country and kin and I’ll bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you – and through you, ALL the families on Earth will be blessed.”
We can see how Paul is using the Scriptures to show how righteousness is credited to us through faith. The Law does not bring life – if they didn’t obey the Law, there were curses. “Cursed is the one who does not uphold the words of this Law by carrying it out.” (Oh, and by the way, if you break one SMALL thing, you break it all.) What is God doing? Trying to make fun of them? No, preparing them for the seed of Abraham (Jesus) on whom they could believe. (This curse was in Deuteronomy 27, 28…)
Habakkuk “The righteous shall live by faith.”
When Christ came, he redeemed us from the curses.
Yes, there are blessings “Please and thank you for those.” But there are also curses “Oh dear, please and no thank you for those.”
It was clear that there was still something missing even though “gallons of blood had been shed” by the sacrifices. But that was not enough to take away the sins of the people. This happened every year (What a great New Year’s reflection… “We failed again last year… sigh….”).
- The blood of the lambs covers the sin of the people.
- The blood of the LAMB takes away the sin of the people.
Christ redeemed us from the curse by BECOMING a curse “cursed is everyone hung on a tree”. He became our curse – we should have been up on that tree ourselves. But God, in his mercy, and Jesus in his compassion, died for us and took our sins.
How are we assured of this? BY FAITH.
- The Old Testament says, “DO.”
- The New Testament says, “DONE.”
- OT “Do this and live.”
- NT “It is finished, NOW live.”
The Law is a perfect, rigid husband who demands perfection of his wife. The wife knows her husband is perfect, but she isn’t. How can she live under this?
There is another man, equally perfect, Jesus. How can she get away from the Law? Her husband? He will go on. Jesus has died. She must DIE as well – die to the Law, die to her perfect husband, and be RAISED to life with Christ.
The gospel has been preached through Abraham and others, and the application of the gospel will continue (NEXT TIME) in the 4th chapter of Galatians.
But now is time for Communion, so let’s prepare our hearts for the Lord’s Supper.