Faith or Law?

February 26, 2016

 

Faith or Law?

Galatians 3:1-5

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? 

What we believe and have conviction for in our lives can come at a high price.  In many times and various places it could cost you your livelihood, your possessions and even your life.  With that kind of a price tag you want to be pretty sure that what you believe is right on and that it is worth the price you pay.  The Galatians were such a people.  They began their faith as they heard the gospel and embraced it by faith, but now the apostle Paul finds them mixing the law and faith.  They are getting caught up in the doctrine that the liberty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not sufficient in itself, but must be supplemented with works and the keeping of ordinances.  This was a battle that Paul had to war with on many fronts throughout his life.  If Paul ever had a thorn in his flesh, this was a major one. If anyone would have thought that faith alone in Jesus Christ was not sufficient for our salvation you would think it would have been Paul.  Having been raised and trained in the rigors of the Mosaic Law as a Pharisee, his whole life had been built upon this premise.  It is obvious by Paul’s passionate apologetic of the gospel that he no longer sees the law as a necessary component of our faith and salvation.  He in fact, strongly views the legalism brought in by the Judaizers as an undermining of the faith that stands in Christ alone.  

Some might argue will if you have faith and the law isn’t that even better?  Don’t we have the best of both and isn’t that more pleasing to God?  

The reason that Paul is so passionate on this point is that the law is based in man’s righteousness.  The whole reason that God gave us the tutor of the law was to teach us that man’s righteousness would always miss the mark of God’s righteousness and holiness.  If the law had been sufficient we would not have needed Christ.  Our faith in Christ bases our righteousness in Christ and not in ourselves.  The Law leads us to believe that by our goodness and observances of the law we obtain favor with God.  Yet the Bible teaches us without faith it is impossible to please God.  Our faith cannot be in us; it must be in Him.  Roman 10:1-4 bears out this truth, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

When Paul speaks of the two laws in Romans 8:1-4 he says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” The Law doesn’t work because it is dependent upon our goodness.  Faith in Christ works because it is dependent upon His goodness which is imputed to us by faith and not by works.  When we mix the law with faith we put ourselves again under the law of sin and death.  The only way that we abide in the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus is through faith in His finished work upon the cross.  When we say we still need the law, observances and ordinances to supplement that faith, then we are in affect saying, “Jesus, you are not sufficient for our salvation.”  Any of us who are still putting ourselves under the law need to strongly consider that.  We will never enter into the fullness of God’s Holiest while we are still clinging to the former things.  Hebrews 9:8 says, “The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.”  The new wine was never meant to be put into old wineskins.  Luke 5:37 says, “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.”  The Old and the New Testaments are two different covenants; they were not made to be mixed.  

Through the Old Testament we gain many wonderful insights into examples of man’s interaction with God, God’s nature and revelations of the principles and purposes of God, but we see them consummated and fulfilled in Christ.  In Christ, we live out of His righteousness by faith.  When the Word tells us that we are the righteousness of Christ, it is telling us that when the Father looks upon us, He sees us in His Son who is without spot or wrinkle.  How do you stand before God today, in your righteousness or in His?

Blessings,

#kentt

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