A Study of Galatians 3
by Mark Trodd
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Will God find faith on the Earth? (Luke 18:8)
The Bible is the story of faith (a willingness to trust what God has said and act on it) under pressure. It contains a record of those like Abraham who have stayed faithful and believed God, even when everything seems to be conspiring against them. When the whole world seemed to be turning their back on God, these individuals were a beacon of hope in the darkness. At certain times in history, it was these individuals whom God was able to work through to keep faith alive, and to eventually bring the solution to all our problems in CHRIST. People like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Joshua, Ezra kept the light of faith alive – when it could have died – until the coming of Christ, the seed of Abraham (Gal 3:16).
Even in the New Testament, what looked like a defeat and the end of faith when Jesus was crucified on a cross became the launching pad for something new and far more powerful. In CHRIST, God was reconciling the whole world to Himself. The mystery of how God can forgive and be merciful to a sinful and rebellious people has been fully revealed in Christ.
The Galatians have been deceived by a distorted gospel. After re-establishing his credentials as an apostle of Christ, Paul becomes far more direct and asks “Who has bewitched you?” Satan always seeks to move us away from believing what God says to something else – and even better, to go back to the old ways when God is doing something new. Today, the same question can be asked, because too many churches are pursuing relevance – often at the expense of faithfulness towards God – as they try to reverse the pressures that are slowly pushing them out of the mainstream.
Righteousness comes by Believing in Christ, not in Self.
Paul questions the logic of trusting in the work of Christ and receiving the Spirit, and then believing those who tell them it is all about what we can do.
Abraham showed us the way when he believed what God had promised and persevered for many years until the promise was fulfilled. It was His willingness to trust in what God had said that made him a friend of God, not the perfectness of his walk. God’s promise to bless him and all the nations through Him, is being fulfilled even today – all who believe in Christ become the descendants of Abraham by faith (not through the flesh). It is the walk of faith that should define our relationship with God, especially at a time when compromise is gaining momentum.
Abraham walked with God before the Law was given. The Law tells us what pleases God and what He is against. It will either commend or condemn us, but it cannot redeem us. What the Law could not do, Christ did on the cross. Through Him, we not only died to sin and became alive to God; we also receive the promise of the Spirit whose work is to bring us into conformity with Christ. This happens through the obedience of faith in God, not the striving of faith in self.
The Law Reveals and Restrains sin; only Christ can Reconcile us and make us heirs of the Promise.
Every agreement has conditions that both parties must fulfill. The covenant Abraham made with God had promises that have never been revoked and which even the Law does not invalidate. The promise to bless Abraham and his descendants was based on God’s faithfulness, not Abraham’s (He failed numerous times). Faith has always been the way back to God – a reversal of that fateful decision in Eden – and works have always been the fruits of genuine faith. But, it has all come because of the mercy of God. The mystery of God’s mercy is revealed in the work of Christ as our substitute. He is the seed (singular) of Abraham, who ultimately fulfills the promise and applies its benefits retrospectively to all who believe.
The Law does not replace the promise but it does keep us in check (tutor) and it does reveal our need for a Savior. In Adam, we have been born into sin and a world estranged from God. The Law only confirms the truth of our situation. The people of faith throughout the OT always had some understanding of the need for a sacrifice and the concept of substitution. Offered in faith, these sacrifices were shadows of things not yet revealed (Christ), and vehicles for God’s mercy.
Without Christ, our sins remain and must be paid for. No amount of good works or acts of faith can undo or cancel them out. 1000 good deeds cannot cancel even one sin. God’s justice must be satisfied, and the good news is that Christ has done that for ALL. Faith is the conduit through which all that Christ has won can be appropriated to our lives. The Holy Spirit comes to seal the deal by beginning the process of bringing our lives into conformity with our new standing. Paul talks later about the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5), against which there are no Laws.
“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the Promise.” Gal3:29
The walk of faith has always had to face the pressures of compromise and capitulation at the places where the gospel comes into conflict with a society. When I asked the Lord what themes were dearest to His heart, He led me to Isaiah 54:5.
“For your HUSBAND is your MAKER,Whose name is the Lord of hosts; and your REDEEMER is the Holy One of Israel who is the God of ALL the earth.”
The themes of creation, relationships, and salvation are clearly stated. In our society, it is these three themes that have been distorted and placed under great pressure as the church has lost its voice of authority. The themes of evolution, self-actualization and tolerance have taken more and more people away from the truth. But, God can do much when He has faithful people to work with – people willing to stand firm on the WORD and trust Him when it gets costly to do so.
Galatians is about calling churches to be faithful to the message they received and to the Lord who saved them. Paul knew that when Truth is sacrificed for the sake of peace, in the end all you get is confusion and lawlessness.
1. “Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” He believed God; therefore he lived his life accordingly. Since faith is very practical, what are the areas where you are learning to trust God more than you have been? Are there areas where you have really struggling to believe God and live accordingly?
2. “...you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” What does it mean to be clothed with Christ? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in this process? How does the obedience of faith relate to this?
3. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:13 said “I believe, therefore I spoke.”
What does your therefore point to?
Faith is more than just believing in a god – most people do that – it is about a daily walk with the God who created the Heavens and the Earth.
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...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19
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