Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Galatians 3:1-14 - Faith, not Law

by Katrina

LINK: Galatians 3:1-14

BACKGROUND
Now Paul presents six clear arguments to demonstrate that keeping the Law is not required for salvation. We'll look at the first three arguments today and the last three tomorrow.

First off, Paul uses the example of the Galatians' own experience. He says, "Don't you remember how you were saved?" They had never received the Holy Spirit by keeping the Law. But when they heard about Jesus and his crucifixion and resurrection, they had faith, and received the Spirit. They were even persecuted for their new faith. They had seen the work of the Holy Spirit among them. So Paul asks, "Does the God who gives you the Holy Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" Obviously, the Holy Spirit came when they had faith in Jesus, not by any keeping of the Law. Our faith is not a dry and rigid system, but it is interaction with the Holy Spirit of the Living God!!

Paul's next argument is the example of Abraham. Abraham's faith was what made him justified before God. He lived long before the Law was given, so he could not have been justified by keeping the Law. In the same way, Paul argues, you Gentiles are justified by faith, not by the Law.

Third is the argument from the Law itself. The Law has never saved anyone, and it never will! The Law brought a curse because nobody could ever keep it. But when Christ, the Messiah, died on the cross, He took that curse upon Himself, thus buying (redeeming) us out from under the curse of the Law. (more on the Law tomorrow)

REFLECTION
When we add anything to the simple faith of salvation, we destroy the message of the gospel. Salvation is by faith and grace alone. At the point of salvation, we receive the Holy Spirit. And likewise, our spiritual growth after salvation is by faith and the Holy Spirit. We are to follow the example of Abraham and live by faith, not depending on any works we might do to try to find favor with God. We cheapen the gospel whenever we add any requirements beyond faith. Our salvation by faith cost Jesus His life! Let's not devalue what He did by saying it's not enough!


APPLICATION
Take a look at your own life. Are you relying on your own good works to gain you favor with God? Are you trying to keep certain parts of the Old Testament Law? Do you think you are better in God's sight because you do or don't do certain things? These are the teachings Paul is refuting.

We must not try to perfect ourselves through works, but rely on the Holy Spirit. We can be confident that the God who began the work of changing us from the inside out will continue to do so and will complete His work in us. (See Philippians 1:6.)

PRAYER
Thank you, Lord, that we do not have to keep the Law in order to receive forgiveness for our sins! We could never be forgiven that way! But you have provided salvation through Jesus, by faith, so we have a chance. And thank you for growing us also through faith, so that we can reflect the image of your glory more and more as we grow. Amen.
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