Thesis: We are not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. (Galatians 2.15-16)
Proof #1: You received the Holy Spirit not by works of the law but by hearing with faith (Gal. 3.1-9)
Proof #2: All who rely on works of the law are under a curse (Gal. 3.10-14)
Proof #3: The Promise was not fulfilled through the law (Gal. 3.15-20)
God promised that He would bless all nations through Abraham’s seed. Despite what the Jews were thinking, the special covenant Moses ratified between God and Israel at Mt. Sinai did not fulfill that promise God made to Abraham.
Paul makes a great deal out of the phrase “to his offspring,” showing how offspring is singular and means one man, namely Christ. The promises God gave Abraham were to be ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ–not through Moses and the Law. Abraham lived 430 years before the Law was ever written, so God was faithfully working out His promises long before the Law came, and the Law did not change the direction of that work. When you read the Old Testament, it’s often good to think of the BIG STORY in which God works out the Seed of Abraham in such a way as to bring Jesus onto the earth “when the fullness of time had come” (Gal. 4.4).
Therefore the Law must have served some other purpose(s), since it did not accomplish the fulfillment of God’s promise. This is why Paul begs the question, “Why then the law?” (Gal. 3.19)
- It was added because of transgression (3.19)
- It was a bi-lateral covenant between God and Israel (3.19-20)
- It imprisoned everyone under sin (3.22) / held people captive (3.23)
- It served as a guardian / tutor / schoolmaster (3.24)
How long did God intend for the Law given through Moses to endure?
- “until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made” (3.19)
- “until the coming faith would be revealed” (3.23)
- “until Christ came” (3.24)
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.
The little “if” can change your worldview! Paul plainly teaches NO LAW in existence can give life. Law inherently cannot redeem, save, justify, etc. Just the opposite, law condemns and binds us under judgment and wrath. Law has no mercy. In order for us to receive mercy, forgiveness, and grace, we must receive it from someone who loves us and has the ability to give it to us.
It’s not as if God’s law to Israel was imperfect–it is the most perfect law which has ever been given to mankind! If any law could save, that would be the one.
Neither did God abandon the Law of Moses simply to replace it with a better law, the Law of Christ, by which we are now saved. The Bible never reads like that anywhere. Christ didn’t come to save us via a better law; He came to save us from the condemnation of the law. That’s important, and we must not miss it, because the Galatian brethren missed this point and were cursed because of it.
Why then the law? The law pushes us on to Christ! It displays the absolute holiness of God and exposes our own lack of holiness. But the law doesn’t save; for that we need Christ! “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3.29).