From the slavery of the law to the freedom of sonship

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.

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. – Galatians 3:21-4:7

How we live, that is, how perfectly we live a life of obedience is not what determines our inheritance. Our inheritance comes to us as a matter of promise. We then either believe the promise and receive our inheritance or we don’t. God has never had a plan whereby we would know life as a result of perfect obedience. In the garden, theoretically, it was possible that Adam and Eve could have lived in obedience long enough to have passed a probationary period and then been allowed to eat of the tree of life resulting in eternal life.

They didn’t.

Paul goes on to say that “if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.” But, it couldn’t.

So, righteousness and life are only available by faith in the finished work of Christ. The function of the law was to point out God’s righteous requirement and our absolute inability to keep it. It was to make clear to us our need of the finished work of Christ. Why is it then that so many of us end up going back to the principle of law-obedience to try to maintain our relationship with God? When we do, we are, in Paul’s words, “fools.”

God’s plan for us is for us to receive his promise which he gave to Abraham. We are intended to become Abraham’s offspring by becoming people who believe God’s promise just as Abraham did. When we believe God’s promise of life, we are placed “in Christ” and then become Abraham’s offspring because Jesus is the single offspring of Abraham that received the promise. We receive only because we are in Christ.

The law produces slavery because it “lays down the law” and does not provide any power to obey the law. We are slaves to constant failure.

Receiving the promise as a son of God is a life of freedom. In Christ, by faith, we are freed from the dominion of sin and provided with forgiveness when we do sin. This is the freedom of sonship.

 

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