The Law and Faith in Christ
3:1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 Have you experienced[a] so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?
Man is this ever familiar. We see it all the time in church and maybe it has even happened to you or someone you know. You receive the Holy Spirit, you are on fire for God and then somewhere along the lines, you get side tracked by man made rules. Paul is calling this church out. Here are people, many of whom may have actually seen Jesus crucified, or at least they lived in the time that it actually happened. He asks them how they received the Spirit. Good question. Do you "feel" saved when you follow rules and laws, does this make you feel "holy"? It was the Holy Spirit himself and when you believed the true message, you could truly feel the fire inside. So, we have the information, we have been given new birth but the Holy Spirit himself and yet many times we rely on ourselves. Paul is just pointing out her, that we can not do this, we have to fully relay on Jesus.
5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
A simple reminder. Notice he has to ask again though. Remember, it is because we believe not because we obey the law. It is written that the on going work of the Holy Spirit in the Galatian churches involved miracles. Paul knew that the Holy Spirit wasn't just and invisible inward work in an individual but an experience that reveals itself in outward signs through God's supernatural powers. He works among the believers. This is normal, this is evidence of the Holy Spirit.
6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”[b]7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.
To have the Faith of Abraham is what we all need. He did not simply follow law, he followed what God asked of him and he was awarded beyond belief. Paul points out that God counted Abraham as righteous because of his faith, not because he followed the Jewish laws.
8 What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.”[c] 9 So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.
Paul points out that it was declared long ago that to be blessed and be righteous in the eyes of God was simple. You had to have and put all your Faith in Christ. That is the only way. The passage points out that even Gentiles are righteous because of their Faith. We can all receive the same blessing that Abraham received.
10 But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.”[d] 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”[e] 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.”[f]
When they refer to "under the law" or depending on the law this refers to "legalists". A Legalist was one who refused God's gracious gift of Salvation through Faith in Christ and instead insisted on a relationship with God by strict obedience to God's laws or their own traditions and religious routines. No form of rule, tradition or routine can live up to the requirements of God or earn his favor by good works. So when Paul tells the Galatians they are cursed or under a curse, he is telling them they will be forever separated from God by their very own efforts. By them trying to be obedient they are missing true obedience to what God is asking of them.
13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”[g] 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised[h]Holy Spirit through faith.
Paul also quotes the book of Habakkuk and points out that it is written by the profit, that one who is justified by Faith possesses true inward righteousness. This means this is a right relationship with God regarding character and attitudes. You see Christ redeemed us from the "curse".
The Law and God’s Promise
15 Dear brothers and sisters,[i] here’s an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case. 16 God gave the promises to Abraham and his child.[j] And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,[k]” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ. 17 This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. 18 For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise.
The covenant of God's promise to Abraham is defined as "the promise of the Spirit"
19 Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. 20 Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham.
The Greek word for "law" means "teaching" or "direction". The law can refer to the Ten Commandments, the Pentateuch (first five OT books) or any commandment in the OT. Paul refers to the sacrifices or sacrificial system that was part of God's OT covenant. Even though these laws were right and holy, they were only temporary. The old law was incomplete, it could not give spiritual life or moral strength.
21 Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises?[l] Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. 22 But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.
The old law was an instructional guide to protect and point people in the right direction. It was meant to lead us to Christ sot that we could become justified by Faith. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, the final sacrifice. Here was a new covenant. Jesus was kind of like God's "life agreement" with people based on the life, death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus.
God’s Children through Faith
23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
The Greek word paidagogos from which we get the word pedagogue (i.e. teacher, educator, guardian) is translated as "put in charge". In NT times, a personal slave was "put in charge" or accompanied the master's child wherever the child went. They acted as guardian and exercised a degrees of discipline over the child. The purpose of God's law was to guide people in God's ways and provide for discipline. I am reminded here though of Jesus being a "slave" our guardians, the one who guides us and exercises just a degree of discipline.
26 For you are all children[m] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.[n] 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[o] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children[p] of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
Here, Paul is removing all barriers to ones relationship with Jesus Christ. It is very clear that there are no ethnic, racial, national, gender or socio-economic barriers to receiving salvation. All who are "in christ" are equal heirs of the gracious gift of life and the promises of the Spirit. Although we are all equal heirs, though, we must remember that we all have assigned roles and unique distinctions. Paul taught this to the church in Galatia and his words and lessons are still strong today. Jesus is here for all of us, to set us free and to guide us.
Now off to do my yucky yoga. LOL