Read Galatians 3
Faith or Works of the Law
3 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 the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.8 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 rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person 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 pole.” 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 and sisters, 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. 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 the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator,however, implies more than 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 Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Children of God
23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and 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.
It is so easy for us to try and live life on our own. We like control. We like the glory when things go well. Our pride and the world around us tell us that we are the heroes, we are in charge of our own destinies, that if we try our hardest and do our best, then we can fix ourselves. The lie we believe is that it is possible for us to live up to the standard that the law has laid out for us.
In Galatians 3, Paul reminds us that our desire to live perfectly on our own is the very thing that keeps us from understanding grace, living in freedom, and walking with Him. The enemy fools us into thinking we don’t need Jesus to be free; he wants us to believe that we can find freedom on our own. Jesus tells us that this is a lie and that the enemy has come to deceive us. We are far from God because of our sinfulness, and we cannot bring ourselves close to holiness.
Sometimes our weary, confused souls need to be reminded of what has been true since the beginning of our faith. Eternal life is found through Jesus alone. We need to be reminded that we are not seen as righteous because of our own works, by being good enough, or by working our way to perfection. At the root of our salvation is the truth that it is by faith alone we have been made righteous. The law came to reveal our sinfulness to us (Romans 3:20), and Jesus came to fulfill the law. He lived up to its perfect standard, the standard of God’s holiness, so that we don’t have to. Only through believing what Christ has promised to us are we able to receive the gift of salvation.
The question we need to answer is, “Do we believe Him”? If so, let’s stop living like we are bound to the law, like we need to earn our way to salvation and earn our way to Him. Let’s live like we know we are free because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and lean into the truth of our identity as redeemed children of God. Knowing who He says we are, we are free to live lives that bring God glory.
- In what ways are you prone to forget the grace of Jesus? What lies do you believe about the gift of salvation?
- How has the truth of the gospel changed the way you live? Has it?
- Paul’s letter demonstrates our need for community in remembering Truth. Who can you encourage with the Truth today?
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