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.—Gal. 3:23-29 (NIV)
Before the resurrection of Jesus Christ, man had lived in sin and bondage ever since Adam committed the original sin. For a few hundred years man lived without a tutor or guardian, the the law was given to teach us until the great mystery of the Good News was revealed. 25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.–Romans 16:25-27 (NIV)
We are all saved by “grace through faith” and we are all one body, the body of Christ and are therefore the seed of Abraham. If we are the seed of Abraham, then we are heirs and members of the “heir force”. And one glorious day, we will all fly home to be with our Lord and Savior for eternity!
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.—Gal. 3:15-18 (NIV)
Just as Jesus used everyday examples to teach, Paul does the same thing here. Everyone who had ever made a purchase of home or land, easily understood that once the transaction had been completed and witnessed, it became a legal contract. While contracts and covenants are both legal and binding, the big difference in the two is this; A contract is valid only as long as both parties do what they have bound themselves to do while a covenant is binding on one party even if the other party fails to keep their end of the deal. So, since God knew man would not keep up his end, He made a covenant that bound Him regardless of what man did. Once God made the covenant promises to Abraham, God was bound by His own word to keep it forever. Nothing man did or does or will do can change God’s plan. He was faithful to Israel even though they failed Him time after time. The new covenant is not a change in God’s plan, it was decided on long before the foundations of the world were laid. Under the new covenant, God is faithful to all who receive Jesus as Savior, even though, we, like Israel fail Him time after time, He is bound by His own Word to remain faithful to us.
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.—Gal. 3:19-22 (NIV)
Why, then, was the law given at all? It was given because the people were living lifestyles that were displeasing to God and opened themselves up to total destruction. God, moved with compassion gave them the law that they might know exactly what He expected of them. The law was their teacher to show them that they were unable to live the life God desired. In giving the law, did God nullify His covenant with Abraham? Absolutely not, He could not and would not do that. But at the same time, the law had no life in it, therefore when the people transgressed the law, there was no Redeemer to reconcile them with God. Ever since Adam sinned, the world was under the control of sin, Therefore, until Jesus the perfect lamb without blemish was sacrificed on the Cross, the promises that God had made to Abraham could not be fulfilled. So, the promise that “all nations would be blessed through the Seed of Abraham” is fulfilled by the New Covenant of living under grace. Now, anyone who comes to the Throne of Grace and asks for forgiveness can receive it. So, people of every nation are truly blessed to become children of the Most High God.
10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.”13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.—Gal. 3:10-14 (NASB)
Paul continues to contrast living under the law as opposed to living under grace. For hundreds of years, all the Jews had known was the law plus all the man-made traditions that had been added by the priests and the religious leaders. That now there was a different way to please God was going to take a lot of “unteaching ” and “unlearning”. The law was not given to be a curse, but it became a curse because the flesh could not live up to its standards. It did not require faith, it was a law of works. It was meant to be a teacher showing “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. We needed a change, but to have that change, we needed someone to remove us from under the curse of sin and the law. Jesus became a curse and a Redeemer for us. Through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we can now receive the promise of the blessing of Abraham. We could not become the physical offspring of Abraham, but we could become the Spiritual descendants of the “seed” of Abraham. That “Seed” is Jesus Christ. 13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect—Romans 4:13,14 (NKJV)
6 Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.—Gal. 3:6-9 (NASB)
Abraham lived before the law was handed down. God told Abram to leave his family and his country. Abram did not question God about how or where, he just did what God asked him to do. Because Abram believed God, it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Abram was renamed Abraham. It was quite amazing that Abram would trust a God that he hardly knew. Today, even with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, how many of us would leave everything and go to wherever God would lead? Abraham did this by faith in God. When God told Abraham that “all nations” would be blessed in Him, it was a foreshadowing of our being saved by grace through faith. Yes, God picked a certain lineage and nation to carry His Name forward and made a covenant with them to do so. That covenant and the law that followed was not meant to exclude other nations or set aside the promise God had made to Abraham. It was meant to show all nations that we need a Savior. And at just the right time, God sent His Son to be that Savior and Redeemer. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.—Gal. 4:4,5 (NASB)
1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?—Gal. 3:1-5 (NASB)
There were religious leaders and teachers that were trying to convince the new converts that the Gospel was not true. They taught that you must still obey the law to please God. But the Good News is that we are now saved by grace through faith, not by works. Once we have accepted this truth, then the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us and lead us into all truth. The Holy Spirit could not be obtained by works or by obedience to the law. There is only one way to receive the Holy Spirit and that is by hearing the Word of grace and ,by faith, accepting Jesus as our Savior. Adding anything to God’s plan is nothing but vanity and man’s pride. We still have to answer the same question today. Are we saved by God who works miracles among us and provides us with His Holy Spirit? Yes, yes, we are! And once we accept Jesus, is there some great work we must do to be sure make it to heaven? The answer is no, works still cannot obtain our salvation. There are works that we should do, yes, but they do not add to our salvation. Our works are how we store up rewards in heaven. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.-Matt. 16:26,27(NKJV)
18 For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”—Gal. 2:18-21 (NASB)
Paul continues his case against the law. There were three items in the Ark of the Covenant: 4 having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat;–Hebrews 9:4,5 (NASB)
Each of these items represented the rebellion of man against God. The manna reminds us that men had rejected God’s provision, men wanted more. Aaron’s rod reminds us that man had rejected God’s authority and the Tablets of the Ten Commandments remind us that men had rejected God’s standard of living, His Law. All of these were hidden under the mercy seat of the Ark. That mercy seat was a shadow of the Cross where Jesus died and put all of our sins and rebellion under His mercy and grace. Paul is saying that if we resurrect the law then we become transgressors. Jesus died to fulfill the law and put us under grace. If the law had been sufficient to redeem us then Jesus did die needlessly. But men have constantly rebelled against the law and against God. Man is incapable of obeying every part of the law, therefore we need a Savior. And, at just the right time, God sent His Son who died that we might be reconciled to Him. 2 For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.–2 Cor. 6:2 (NLT)
Under the law, man was separated from God, with no hope. But under grace, mercy and forgiveness is available to each of us. No matter what you have done or thought about doing, no matter where you are or where you have been, Jesus is standing at the door of your heart knocking, open up and let Him come in. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me–Rev. 3:20 (NASB)
15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!—Gal. 2: 15-17 (NASB)
Paul is explaining to the Jews present that they were never justified by the works they did under the law. They had spent their lives seeking to be justified but had come up short because the law cannot justify anyone. So, if the law was unable to justify anyone, was God actually causing everyone to sin when they were under the law? Paul says that would never happen. The law was not given to make men fail, but to teach them that they could not justify themselves by works. 19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.—Romans 3:19, 20 (NASB)
So, the law was given that all men might know that they needed a redeemer. That is why Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected. Because of that act of love by God the Father and Jesus the Son, we are all now under grace, not the law. Now, we are all saved by grace through faith. There is a time, place and need for works, but they are not a part of salvation. We are justified by the blood of Jesus, we are in the process of being sanctified, and one day, we will be glorified. Not because we earned it, but, because Jesus, with His blood, has paid the full price for all of us!
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews.—Gal. 2:11-14 (NASB)
Paul continues his crusade to help people to understand the freedom they now have since Jesus fulfilled the law. New converts then and now are not compelled to travel to Jerusalem and make sacrifices each year nor are we expected to meet any requirements of the law. We are required to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, strength, mind and body. If we do this, we will see changes in our lifestyle. Not because of some written laws but because the love of God constrains us. We respond to the love of God. It is His love for us that keeps us. 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.–Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)
6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.—Philippians 1:6 (NASB)
Our focus is not to be on requiring others to take communion as often as we do or if they worship more reverently or loudly than we do (I could go on but you get the picture). We should be focused on making disciples that obey Jesus because they love Him, not in making clones that worship and/or serve like we do.
6 But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised 8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.—Gal. 2:6-10 (NASB)
Paul did not back down from his stand on circumcision. When Peter, James and John, the pillars of the church in Jerusalem, recognized that Paul was right they gave him the right hand of fellowship. (To those who don’t speak Churchese, that means that Paul now had their support and was welcomed into the congregation of Christians,) They all agreed that the new converts, both Jewish and Gentile should not eat food that had been sacrificed to idols and that they should support the poor. It is still a good idea to help the poor and refrain from acts that might cause our brothers to be offended.. Paul and Barnabas leave to go back to Antioch to give the news to the new converts. We, like the first century church, must be careful not to add requirements to God’s plan of salvation. We do not want to become like the legalistic leaders who weighed men down with their traditions. When the Spirit sets us free, we are indeed free from the bondage of sin that was of no benefit to us. The law could not free us, but God could and did by sending His Son, Jesus as an offering for our sin. 1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh—Romans 8:1-3 (NASB)