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Why the law serves the promise

To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. – Galatians 3:15-29

When we “get” this part of Paul’s argument, we will have overcome the performance struggles that most of us have had at one time or another in our desire to enjoy a good relationship with God. God’s deal with us is one of promise, not one of law and obedience to that law.

There is a real twist here. The promise was not made to us directly. We are not the recipients of God’s promise to Abraham, Christ is. Note the argument, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.” Jesus is the one to inherit all things including the promised blessing of Abraham. We only become recipients of that blessing by virtue of being “in Christ.” This is why a mature Christian is a humble person. We have not earned anything from God; we only inherit blessing because God has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. We have nothing of which we can boast. All we can do is point to the one who has made our life in Christ possible.

So what is the point of the law? Paul makes that clear. Its purpose is to point out just how much we need God’s grace because regardless of our best efforts we cannot meet up to God’s standard in his law. Jesus also made that abundantly clear in what we call the Sermon on the Mount. Adultery isn’t just having sex with someone who is not your spouse but is a heart issue of lust. Murder isn’t just physically killing someone, but merely hating them in our hearts qualifies as murder. The breaking of the law is a heart matter, not only a matter of outward actions. Since any honest person acknowledges that they do not have a perfect heart, we are driven to recognize our need for a relationship with God that is based on his grace and not on our performance.

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. The question is, are you Christ’s? If you’re not sure about that or if you know you are not Christ’s but want to be, contact me so I can share with you how you can become Christ’s. Leave me a note in the comments section below.

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