The Law and the Promise
15My friends, I will use an everyday example to explain what I mean. Once someone agrees to something, no one else can change or cancel the agreement. 16That is how it is with the promises God made to Abraham and his descendant. The promises were not made to many descendants, but only to one, and that one is Christ. 17 What I am saying is that the Law cannot change or cancel God's promise made 430 years before the Law was given. 18 If we have to obey the Law in order to receive God's blessings, those blessings don't really come to us because of God's promise. But God was kind to Abraham and made him a promise.
19What is the use of the Law? It was given later to show that we sin. But it was only supposed to last until the coming of that descendant who was given the promise. In fact, angels gave the Law to Moses, and he gave it to the people. 20There is only one God, and the Law did not come directly from him.
Slaves and Children
21Does the Law disagree with God's promises? No, it doesn't! If any law could give life to us, we could become acceptable to God by obeying that law. 22But the Scriptures say that sin controls everyone, so that God's promises will be for anyone who has faith in Jesus Christ.
23The Law controlled us and kept us under its power until the time came when we would have faith. 24In fact, the Law was to be our teacher until Christ came. Then we could have faith and be acceptable to God. 25But once a person has learned to have faith, there is no more need to have the Law as a teacher.
Sin controls everyone (v 22), and obeying religious laws, rituals or rites does not put us in right standing with God. How so? If it were possible for us as sinners, through our own efforts, to attain the perfection required by God, then law-keeping would have been a means of salvation. Then it would not have been necessary for Christ to die for our sins as the way to reconcile us to God. But Christ crucified sin on the cross, something which law-keeping could not do. Law-keeping is therefore not the means of salvation. In fact law-keeping holds people prisoners, and it is only through faith in what Christ did to redeem humanity from the curse of the law that people are set free.
Historically speaking, law-keeping, with countless adherents, had had centuries to demonstrate that it could save sinners. But it failed miserably (v 21). Yet despite this failure, the law was in place like a guardian until Christ came to save sinners. When Christ came, sinners could be saved through faith. When faith came, the law as a guardian was no longer required (vv 22-25).
What a relief! In Galatians we discover that we are made right with God through placing our trust in Christ. Because of his redeeming work on the cross of Calvary the important words are no longer “rules” and “regulations.” They’re “faith” and “belief”. The covenant-promise given to Abraham (vv 16-18) has come true. Now we must choose between the human way of being “saved” (law-keeping), and God’s way of saving us (through faith in Christ). For me it’s a no-brainer! Everyone who believes in the redeeming work of Christ is set free from sin, unshackled from law-keeping, and in right standing with God! (vv 22-25). So I believe!
Lord, thank you that salvation is your gift and not my achievement. Thank you that salvation is through faith which is both required and given by you. Thank you that faith in Christ sets me free from sin. And thank you that you have done for sinners what law-keeping was not able to do—to rescue and deliver me. Amen.