Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
In this, our final study in Galatians, we come full circle: finishing, in effect where we started. In the opening verses of the letter Paul speaks of how it was by God’s grace that he was everything that he was and had in Christ, whether for salvation or ministry. It was not by any efforts or works of himself.
Some seven times in this epistle Paul mentions grace in one context or another .
Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
This Christian life flows from the grace of God, it is all of Him, and nothing of us. There are three things that Paul mentions, which can negate its effect. Removing ourselves to follow ‘another gospel’; frustrating the grace, by seeking righteousness by the law, and a few verses earlier Paul talks of building once again those things that have been destroyed, that is going back to those things we turned away from, and finally we can fall from grace by trying to be justified by the law.
We can conclude most assuredly that living by the law to please God and walking by faith are mutually exclusive. Indeed it is one or the other, we cannot do both. Any attempts to be justified by the law, or indeed to live the Christian life by the law is futile and worthless. Such attempts are a denial of the perfect finished work of Jesus. For His work was so complete and perfect that no one, but no one can never add to or take from it.
D10.2 The law
This is in contrast to the law, where man makes the effort to please and satisfy God’s requirements. This of course , as we have considered, is impossible.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified……For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God …. do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?…… He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them…… But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith…And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them…. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect…… For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise……..Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator…. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?…….For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law…Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace…… For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself….. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law…….Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
In summary we see that the law is the opposite to faith. Law is something done outwardly and is visible for all to see; faith is invisible -the evidence of things not seen. They that live by the law can not be justified, for the law is the very thing that pronounces us guilty before God, for it show the sinfulness of sin. To be justified (declared righteous) and condemned (pronounced guilty) are opposites, so what pronounces us guilty before God can not possible justify us. The law of Moses was never able to do that anyway, for if the law could have brought righteousness then Christ’s death would have been all for nothing.
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
In the kingdom of God it is not self effort and works that count, but faith. Only by faith can we please God. Heb.11:6 . Any good works that please God then flows from that standing.
D10.3 Moses and Jesus
Just as law can not not justify us, neither can it break the promises of God. The promise of the gospel came through Abraham. The promised seed was indeed Christ, and the law could in no measure prevent that. Instead the law was added as a temporary measure until Christ came. He fulfilled its demand completely, to the very last requirement. He was then made a curse for us by being crucified, and so removed the curse of the law from us.
When we look at scripture we see that grace came by Christ
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by[=through] Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Moses was the mediator of the old Covenant, through him God gave the law to the nation of Israel.(Gal.3:19). However it was only temporary and preparatory.
Temporary, because Christ had not yet come in the flesh. Its ceremonies, rituals and festivals were all given to the nation as a pointer to the ONE who was to come. They were pictures of Christ and His redeeming work. The law was never meant to be the means of salvation for right back in the beginning God had already promised Jesus, and that He would bruise Satan’s head (Gen. 3:16). Until God’s appointed time, the Law was given to regulate Israel. But the tragedy was that the Israelites made the law the be all and end all. For when Christ came they did not recognise Him and ended up rejecting their true Messiah.
Preparatory because it was to show up the sinfulness of sin. For how would we know that we needed a Saviour unless we knew that we needed saving?
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Grace and truth came by Jesus! Note the wording in John. Moses never gave the Law! God gave the Law, but ordained by an angel, through a mediator- Moses. Whereas Grace and truth came by Jesus for He is the very qualities of grace and truth Himself. Jesus didn’t come to give us something second hand, but directly from Himself. He is the one full of grace and truth and is the mediator of this new Covenant in His blood.
This new Covenant is neither temporary nor preparatory. It is the eternal covenant, never to be replaced, and is the fulfilment of all that God intended from the beginning.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
D10.4 Final thoughts
Our lives now are in the Spirit, and we no longer have to try and please God by any external law. Instead we have the law of love that God has shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We are to love as He loved, since we are born from above we have His Spirit and the love of God is spread abroad in our hearts. Moment by moment as we walk in the Spirit we are free from the law and its demands and instead we fulfil the law of Christ. We are given the law written on our hearts and have a heart of flesh to serve God with. (Heb.8:10-12)
Our final thoughts are what they have been all the way along: namely that the Christian life is that-LIFE. We receive justification and the Spirit NOT by the works of the law, but by grace through faith. We also continue the Christian life by grace. We do not, and indeed cannot, receive favour from God by the works of the law, but by faith.
We have a choice to either walk in the Spirit or in the flesh. May we ever please the Lord and walk by faith continually and rest in His finished work.