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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, August 25, 2017

Galatians (3:6-14) (Lesson 09)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                       Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Galatians (3:12-14)                                                                (Lesson 09)

Welcome to HBS.

“Salvation Fruit”

Please open your Bible at Galatians 2:19

Three weeks ago, in Lesson 06, I chose not to follow a scriptural “rabbit trail” that I should have gone down for your benefit because the lesson was running long.  I’m referring to Paul’s statement in Galatians 2:19:  For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.”  I said we’d follow up on this verse at a later date and that day has arrived, however, I need to do lay some biblical groundwork before we take on that verse. 

For those who are unaware, a discussion that goes off course, temporarily leaving the previous subject behind, and leaves the audience wondering where they are and where they are heading is called a rabbit trail, and we’ve just entered one.     

The Jewish Rabbis worked very hard at building a theology that said men can make themselves right before the LORD God by keeping the Law of Moses.  They labored at it so hard and for so long the Law became sacred.  In addition to this, the Israelites made it a mode of salvation.  This isn’t my opinion; this is how the O.T. portrays it.  When you begin turning the pages of Matthew, in the New Testament, these beliefs are not past-tense.   In John 9:28-29, for example, when Jesus healed the man born blind, the Pharisees came to investigate the miracle.  Please note their words:  They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.  We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.

In other words, they were saying, “We know God spoke to Moses, but who the devil are you?”  They were supporting the Law of Moses as the revealed truth of God and this gives us insight into how they perceived the Law.  It was the Word of God!  Those who spoke against it, disobeyed it, or ignored it, did so at great peril.  Cursing one’s parents, homosexuality, and breaking the Sabbath laws warranted the death penalty, for example (Exodus 21:17, 31:14; Leviticus 20:13).   

I continue to point out the Law is good; it’s perfect because it’s from the Creator.  Our Apostle Paul wrote:  the Law is holy; and the commandment is holy and righteous and good (Romans 7:12).  For we know that the Law is spiritual… (Romans 7:14).  For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man (Romans 7:22).   Paul is telling us from the giving of the Law in the O.T., right through to the New Covenant, God’s Law is lifted up; in the eyes of the Jew first, and then the Gentiles in the Body of Christ.

But the theologies of these two groups of people (Jews and Gentiles) are not in harmony for Paul said, For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did:  sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh so the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Roman 8:3-4).

The Mosaic Law consisted of 365 negative commands and 248 positive ones for a total of 613 commands governing the moral, the social, and the ceremonial laws or every possible aspect of the Jewish life.  God’s Law or His instructions to the Israelites were designed to bring order from disorder and to direct their lives.  This is best described in Genesis 26:5 which says, “…because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”

Sin is a transgression of God’s Law:  Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:19-20).

Now let’s look at Romans 5:20:  The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, meaning instead of the Law creating righteousness, the law made sin abound!  In other words, God gave the Law to reveal His standard of absolute righteousness, to convict the Israelites (and us) of their sin before Him, and to point them (and us) to their need of a Savior.

The reality of all this is sin reigned for 2500 years in proud Israel, just as it had in the first 2000 years of Gentile history, in all those people suffering the effects of the first Adam.  But Israel, after promising to obey God’s righteous Law, failed in that effort (Exodus 19:3-6), as God knew they would.  Now fully aware of sin and its penalty, God’s Grace abounded all the more.  Where sin had once reigned, Grace might be recognized through the righteous work of “the last Adam,” Christ Jesus, by faith in His blood, which was shed for all unto eternal life (Romans 3:25; 1 Corinthians 15:45).  

In Romans 6, Paul states:  For sin shall not be master over you, (Romans 6:14a).  He explains this statement in verses 15-23.  The latter portion of this verse:  for you are not under law but under grace he explains in Romans 7.  Paul realizes you can’t make a statement like this to a group of Jews without a supportive augment.   The Jews had elevated the Mosaic Law to a sacred place, remember?  This statement from Paul most likely turned their religious world upside down because they lived their entire lives under the Law.  They had idolized the Law as did their ancestors. 

How do we know this is true?  We have this book as our guide folks.  In Matthew 22:36-40 one of the Pharisees posed this question to Jesus:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the (what) Law?”  And He said to him, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.  This is the great and foremost commandment…” 

Jesus’ point is this:  God is a jealous God.  He wants our complete and unwavering faithfulness.  But people tend to place their relationship with God on the back-burner without even realizing their doing it.  In other words, they don’t give God their all.  Other things replace Him and that can be just about anything.  In the case of the Pharisee above, it was the Law.  He lived his life according to the “letter of the Law,” seeking righteousness through works, believing this could save him.  He had placed his hope in the Law.  Jesus told him he had overlooked the Main Thing.  No matter what you’re chasing after, just remember the JOY principle:  Jesus, Others, and then You...

Before we go much further it’s good to know at this juncture one of the major themes of Romans is justification by faith; Paul’s saying no one is saved by keeping the Law.  Paul begins teaching this fact in chapter 3, after showing everyone how unrighteous they really are.  He doesn’t stop teaching this truth until he reaches chapter 8.  In chapter 9 he begins applying this truth to Israel and then in chapter 12 all the way to the end he shows us how it applies to the true Believer’s life. 

Please know we’re getting closer to the reason why we’re all here; the stage had to be set beforehand.  A Broadway play doesn’t go on without the proper staging and I couldn’t explain Paul’s statement in Galatians 2:19 without laying the foundation first. 

Paul presented the fundamental Church Doctrine of Justification in Romans 3 and 4.  Then he presents the fruit of this doctrine beginning in chapter 5.  There we learn the first fruit of justification is security; we have peace with God; not the peace of God, that’s an additional spiritual blessing.  Peace with God means the war is over; true Believers are no longer estranged from God because God has judged our sin upon Christ, our divine substitute, on Calvary.  God is so completely satisfied with Christ’s one-time sacrifice He will remain so for all eternity.  He never intends to take the subject of our sin up ever again (Psalm 103:12).  Therefore, we have Peace with God, i.e. eternal security (Romans 5:1-10; Philippians 4:7).  Another way of saying this is, “You cannot lose your salvation!”

Then in chapter 6, verse 5, Paul said, “We are united with Christ:  For if we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be raised to life as He was (Romans 6:5 – Berean Study Bible).  Paul is looking back to verse 2, to the fact he declared concerning every true Believer, that they died to sin, how can they still live in it?  This is an important point.  In other words, “If we truly believe and are united with Christ, which is our baptism, i.e. the likeness of His death, we will also be united in the likeness of His resurrection:” so we too might walk in newness of life.  This is the second fruit, holiness.  We’ve looked at the word holiness just recently; it appears 180 times in the N.T. and means set apart from the world to God, i.e. morally blameless. Christ’s holiness is imputed to the true Believer (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Galatians 2:20). 

This brings us to Romans 7 where Paul mentions our liberty in Christ Jesus, and this is the third fruit.  People are all over the place as to the meaning of this word but Paul wants you to know it means one thing:  we are free from the Law:  But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of Spirit and not in oldness of the letter (Romans 7:6)

These are the fruits of salvation and it’s meant to answer the question asked in Romans 6:1, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?  You see, that was the proud Jewish critic’s question from the back of the room.  The Doctrine of Justification by faith (alone) through grace means you can sin all you want because every time you sin God’s Grace will cover it, so he’s saying your doctrine leads to unrighteous living; it actually encourages it… 

Grace by nature has always had the potential to lead people to license.  Dietrich Bonheoffer introduced the church to “Cheap Grace” in his classic work The Cost of Discipleship.  In essence he points us to the world’s view of grace without a price; grace without cost!  The account has been paid in advance; and because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing… however God’s Grace was not cheap; it was not free!  Anyone who reads Paul’s epistles and comes away thinking God’s Grace cost Him nothing, needs to start reading again:  …work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12b-13). 

But here’s the thing, God’s Grace doesn’t cause true Believers to take advantage of it; true salvation leads to holiness, remember.  God’s Grace doesn’t lead to license to sin; it leads to the opposite of license and that’s holiness.  This brings us to Paul’s declaration in Galatians 2:19 and that’s why we’re here:  For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.”  Although God’s Grace is translated in scripture as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8), this doesn’t mean it came without cost to God.  Furthermore, this verse is poorly defined.  Unfortunately people see the word “free” and mistake its meaning.  A better translation would read:  God’s Grace is the means of conveying spiritual gifts. 

In Romans 6:2b, Paul said:  How shall we who died to sin still live in it?  He offers an explanation in verse 3 as to what this statement means:  Or do you not know that all of us (true Believers) who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might (do what) walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be (what) slaves to sin; for he who died is freed from sin (Romans 6:4-7).

What’s missing in the passage above?  The Law, right?   Paul doesn’t mention the Law once and that because Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the Law:  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25).   Now for the Jews who elevated the Law to sacredness, asking them to believe in the man, Jesus, for their salvation was a stumbling block, a rock of offense.  And yet some Jews did believe and were saved, and some of these Believers were Pharisees.  They believed in Jesus’ name but they also believed in the letter of the Law and continued to obey it, thinking others should follow suit. 

However, our Apostle Paul, in Galatians 3:10-11, informed these Judaizers:   For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”  Then he gives them some good news in verse 13:  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."

Let’s sum up.  True Believers died, in Christ Jesus, by our miraculous union with Him, by grace, through faith, and we rise, in the likeness of His resurrection, to walk in newness of life.  This, my friends, is the essence of Paul’s teaching for salvation is a total transformation.  This is witnessed in the fruit of salvation which is security, the holiness of Christ which is imputed to the true Believer, and then we are given liberty from the Law (Romans 7:4).  The Believer is no longer a slave to sin or to the Law for the matter.  The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was the key to the Believer’s total freedom.  We now have access to the very throne room of God!

But “freedom” at a cost for at the end of Romans 7:4 we have this great truth:  in order that we (true Believers) might bear fruit for God.  This isn’t a mere suggestion; Paul’s making a statement of fact.  This verse could read:  In order that we bring forth fruit.”  In other words, there is no such thing as a non-fruit bearing Believer.  True salvation produces a product, i.e. a transformed life:  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). 

If you’re truly saved, you will produce spiritual fruit.  What is that?  Well it involves two things basically, a person’s attitude and their actions.  Attitude fruit Paul writes about in Galatians 5:22-23:  the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 

You’ll find action fruit in Hebrews 13:15:  let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.  And in Philippians 4:11:  having been filled with the fruit of righteousness that is through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God, meaning any righteous act, any act that glorifies God the Father, is fruit.  I used to teach my students, “Anything that brings a smile to Jesus’ face is a righteous act.” 

Therefore, when Christ transforms your life, you are dead to the Law, and you come alive to God.  This isn’t because of a past historical event that occurred on a given day on Calvary, it’s because Jesus Christ is alive and well, and you are one with Him, He is in you, and the true Believer is producing fruit to God; fruit that glorifies God.   Paul’s comment in Galatians 2:19 echoes the same sentiment.  He’s saying, “Should the Lord Jesus Christ return this very instant, may He find me dutifully engaged in His service; may He find me fruitful.  I might be dead to the Law, but not to the Lord.  Our Apostle Paul didn’t just attend church services once or twice a month he was very attentive to the Lord’s commands and to His revelations and had consecrated himself to His service as His apostle to the Gentiles and this is his message to us:  consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:20). 

We’ve reached the end of the scriptural rabbit trail; I pray you understand now what Paul means when he says:  I (insert your name here) might live to God.

********
We ended our lesson last week looking at this Bible verse:  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH” (Galatians 3:11).   I prefer not to cut God’s Word off.  When this is done the meaning is often lost.  The original verse is taken from Habakkuk 2:4 and reads:  Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live (or be in right standing with the LORD) by his faith.

The Israelites had scorned God’s Laws; they became proud and indifferent.  As a result, they were unrighteous before the LORD God and were about to face His righteous judgment.  He chose the wicked and violent Chaldeans as His instrument of justice.  In contrast, the righteous (or just) would live (gain eternal life) by faith; not because they believed in the LORD, but because they believed in what He had said, i.e. His promises.  There’s a mighty big difference. 

But the righteous will live (or be saved) by his faith emphasizes that we are justified (means just as if you’d never sinned) before God by faith (alone).  The Law has no ability to justify anyone.  As Habakkuk has recorded, people have always been saved by faith, and not by works.  Abraham is the first recorded example of this method, but God has always operated in this manner; He hasn’t altered this process since Adam was saved. 

Let’s go to verse 12.

Galatians 3
  
12: However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”  If you’re going to live by the Law, you must perform all of it, not hope to do some of it, or try to do some of it.  Only the person WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.  Paul borrows this verse from Leviticus18:5 to prove his point.  If you’re going to choose to live under the Law, then you must operate under the prevailing principle of works, or human effort, but the one who chooses God’s Grace must live by faith. 

Verse 13:

Galatians 3

13: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE – (Deuteronomy 21:23).

The Koine Greek word for redeemed is Exagorazo (ex-ag-or-ad’-zo), Verb, Strong’s Greek #1805, meaning:  by payment of a price to recover from the power of another, to ransom, buy off; “Deliverance at a cost.”  In other words, the idea of redemption is deliverance or release by payment of a ransom.  We’re not unfamiliar with this term in this age and they certainly had a grasp of its meaning in Paul’s day.  After battles were fought the victor would often take captives.  The poor people were sold off as slaves, but the influential people, the wealthy people, were held for ransom.  Once the asking price was raised, they would pay the victorious warriors, and the captives would be set free.  The process was called, “redemption,” and the price was called the “ransom.”
 
This book says:  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).  This is what Paul is saying when he said, “Christ redeemed us.”  Every human being, from Adam onward, was dead in their transgressions (sin), and man was incapable of improving this situation by trying to obey the Law.  Redemption is in Christ Jesus, because Jesus is the ransom.  He willingly laid down His life so there could be release and deliverance from sin and the second death (John 15:13; Revelation 21:8). 

Knowing that your were not redeemed with perishable things like silver and gold from your futile way of life inherited by your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

All those who believe the gospel will experience eternal life in Christ Jesus (John 5:39-40; Romans 5:21; Galatians 3:11-12; Hebrews 5:9).  If you could place a “price tag” on your salvation, what would it be worth to you?  You already know what your worth to God the Father.  You know what your salvation cost Him.  He could have turned this planet into gold bullion and used it as ransom for sin, but this book says, “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22b).  For the LORD said, “the life is in the blood” (Exodus 12:13; Leviticus 17:11).  God paid for you and me with the greatest treasure in His possession, the blood of Christ. 

Verse 14:

Galatians 3

14: in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit (how) through faith.

Verse 13 and 14 go together, you see Christ received the curse, which every one of us deserved and He did not, so everyone who believes the gospel would receive the blessing of Abraham.   This begs the question, “What is the blessing of Abraham?  Well, if the curse of the Law brought death, the blessing of Abraham brought the true Believer the opposite of that; and that is eternal life in Christ Jesus.  

The two purpose clauses in this verse serve to describe the purpose of God in calling Abram:  1) to bring the pagan nations into the blessings enjoyed by the nation of Israel through the promise made to Abram (Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:8-9).  2) that by faith all might receive the Holy Spirit which was the promises sign of the New Age, i.e. the New Covenant (Galatians 3:1; Romans 8:9).   Receiving the Holy Spirit is also a metaphor for salvation.  For the Spirit gives eternal life (Galatians 6:8).

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, August 18, 2017

Galatians (3:6-14) (Lesson 08)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                       Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Galatians (3:6-14)                                                           (Lesson 08)

I want to welcome y’all back to HBS and I thank you for your faithful attendance.

When we ended last week’s lesson, Paul was rebuking the Galatians because they were forsaking the true gospel of God’s Grace and slipping into legalism.  Many Christians are falling into this same trap today.  The times they are a changing…” but people seldom do.  Most people will believe just about anything that’s put in front of them and history* reveals this to be true.  This is why I mention repeatedly the need for true Believers to study the Word of God, the only source of divine truth in the world, paying particular attention to our Apostle Paul’s teachings (Ephesians 3:1-13).

The vast majority of people begin their day with a regular routine, but few think of God, and fewer still consider adding “the right view of God” to their morning wake up.  God is gracious.  He’s not just the God of Grace, speaking of salvation; this book says He is always a God of Grace; meaning God deals with the human race through Grace.

Every true Believer already has God’s favor because of their expressed faith in Christ, i.e. His Grace, and their position in Christ is permanent – you can’t lose your salvation!  God accepts the true Believer when you perform and when you don’t.  If you could make it through one entire day without committing one, single sin God wouldn’t love you any more than if you fumbled the proverbial ball a dozen times…   You see, no one can earn God’s favor by what they do.  Our acceptance in Christ had nothing to do with our performance but everything to do with our faith in the righteousness of Christ Jesus (Romans 3:21-22, 11:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:9).

*It’s a historical fact that some of the biggest battles fought by the church of Jesus Christ were not against the non-religious world, but against those who professed to have a belief in the Lord God, yet denied salvation comes only through faith.  Augustine fought this battle in the 4th century, as did John Wycliffe in the 14th century.  Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, and Latimer all fought against the prevailing and popular belief that God would accept the works of man for righteousness.  The belief that the individual could continue to find favor with God on the basis of his religious practices, his good works, his participation in the sacraments, his acts of service, his tithing, etc.  Just as the Judaizers in Galatia appealed to the Old Testament examples, so have many through the centuries, appealed to the skewed interpretation that God accepts us on the basis of our works.  To this different gospel, the Apostle Paul rose in defiance.  He begins his argument that shows "faith has always been the God-required response that brings salvation (Eph. 2:8-9)” [John MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 72].

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Please open your Bible at Galatians 3:6.

Galatians 3:6: Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD (demonstrating faith), AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  (Genesis 15:6)

Because the Galatian churches were “sliding into legalism,” in verses 1-5 our Apostle Paul intended to clear their heads, hopefully, by asking a series of rhetorical questions.  He started with this one, “did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  Please remember, Paul’s letters are like listening to a one-sided telephone conversation.   So, if they would have responded honestly they would have said, “by hearing with faith.”  Then Paul asked them, “Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  Paul’s point is this, justification and personal sanctification, (spiritual growth) is achieved through GOD’s grace, by faith, not by works (Hebrews 11:6). 
 
Beginning at 3:6, Paul offers a second argument for salvation by grace through faith (alone) and long before there was any law at all (Romans 5:13).  Paul has used a lot of ink referencing the Mosaic Law, but take note, he doesn’t mention Moses here; the most prominent and respected figure in the Old Testament and in the lives of every Jew; a man known as a friend of God (Exodus 33:11).  Instead, he passes over Moses and chooses Abraham the patriarch of the Jewish nation (Genesis 12, 17:5).  Paul’s present argument stems from the Old Testament long before the Mosaic Law was given to the nation of Israel.  In doing this, Paul is proving Abram obtained salvation, by grace, through faith (Genesis 15:6).  Paul didn’t conceive the idea.  God has always acted to save people through their expressed faith in what He said (Genesis 3:20-24; Psalm 119:105)!    

The Jewish religious leaders (the rabbis) thought Abraham was righteous, and often used him as an example, because of his character.  They actually believed he was the most honest man in the world when the LORD selected him, i.e. this is why the LORD chose him.  Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, scripture points us toward the truth.  The world had turned to idolatry even the household of Abram.  But they went so far as to twist certain scripture verses (proof-texting) to arrive at this conclusion.  Here’s one of the verses they chose to manipulate:  because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws” (Genesis 26:5).  But here’s the thing; the majority of the rabbis thought Abraham was righteous because he obeyed the LORD God.  The thing they failed to notice, or failed to report, depends of one’s perspective, is God saved him and made him righteous first, his obedience followed God’s grace (Romans 4:3-5).  Abraham believed God’s promises; then he left the city of Ur, in faith.  His faith reckoned him as righteous not his obedience to the LORD’s instructions. 

Verse 7:

Galatians 3

7: Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.

This statement from Paul contradicted the Judaizers’ claim they were “special,” or they held religious advantages over the Gentiles since they were born Jews; circumcised on the eighth day, and sons of Abraham.  In short Paul said, “That’s not true be sure that it is those who are of faith who are (more) sons of Abraham than the Jews who were circumcised and are trying to keep the Law.”  Put plainly, Paul’s saying anyone who believes the gospel is a child of Abraham in the same sense when Abraham believed the LORD; he became a child of God.  God accept us on the basis of our faith (alone).

Paul’s opponents were stunned by this assessment.  They deeply believed they already had a right standing before God because they were genetically descended from Abraham.  Some of the Jewish rabbis, the religious leaders of the people, at that time actually taught Abraham stood at the gates of Hell to make sure none of his descendants slipped by accidentally.  John the Baptist dealt with this errant teaching saying:  and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham (Matthew 3:9).  Paul is arguing against the Judaizers steadfast reliance on their genetic relationship to Abraham by speaking the truth; Abraham is the father of the faithful.  Therefore what really matters to God is our faith (plus nothing else) in Christ. 

Verse 8:

Galatians 3

8: The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”

With this statement Paul’s saying God has always planned to save every human being from eternal condemnation by faith (Genesis 3:15, 12:3, 18:18; Exodus 19:5-6; Ephesians 1:4).  This fact is revealed here as a portion of the gospel or the good news preached to Abraham at that particular time was:  ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”   

So, this book is saying the Old Testament and the New Testament Believers were treated equally in that they were all saved by God’s Grace through faith, starting with the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden:  Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living (neither of them died after their transgression; but they would eventually die just as the LORD said they would.  But they were saved by believing in the promises of God).  The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them (in His righteousness) Genesis 3:20-21. 

Then we have the account of Noah and his family in Genesis 6, which occurred in the Dispensation of Conscience.  Noah’s name means to bring relief or comfort and LORD God’s message to the people contained bad news and good news just as it does today.  First, the devastating bad news:  I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them.  Behold, I will destroy them with the earth” Genesis 6:13).  Then came the blessed good news:  Go into the ark, you and all your household” (Genesis 7:1). 

But here’s the thing, God’s good news didn’t arrive at the last minute.  Noah and his family of eight received the initial warning about the cataclysmic, world-wide flood 120 years before the invitation was given (7:1).  This book doesn’t say if Noah spent any time warning the people about the LORD’s message, but I would think he did when the situation arose.  In any case, Noah and his sons spent 120 years building the ark; and all this activity stood as a visual warning to the scoffers around them.  Noah put his trust in what the LORD had said; this was his testimony.  Every nail he drove into the wood reinforced his faith; every sound his hammer made echoed his faith saying, “I believe God!”  The people thought Noah was a fool for believing it would rain a flood and they continued in their unbelief.  The LORD left the ramp into the ark down for 7 full days, in case anyone wanted to accept His invitation, by faith.  But only 8 people entered the ark of safety and were saved. 

Verse 9

Galatians 3

9: So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

Salvation is all about an individual’s belief or faith in what God has said.  Abraham trusted in the LORD God’s promises and he was reckoned as righteous for that (alone).  However, I need to point out Abraham’s faith was not perfect.  He stumbled more than a few times after that initial high point.  In one instance he tried to assist the LORD fulfill His promise by having a natural child with Hagar (Genesis 16; 1 Corinthians 15:46), obviously against God’s will.  There were negative consequences to this action that are still being realized to this very day, but the LORD didn’t abandon Abraham or His covenant with him.  Likewise, our faith may wax and wane, determined by circumstances and our feelings, but a true Believer’s salvation is not dependent on such things.  This is true “because when we believed, He secured us in Christ with the seal and pledge of the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13-14). 

Since Abraham was considered righteous because he had the faith to believe the LORD God; and since all true Believers are, in God’s eyes, the children of Abraham, whether or not they are his blood descendants, all those who are saved out of the faith of Christ are blessed with eternal life along with believing Abraham. 

Verse 10:

Galatians 3

10: For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written:  “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”

The Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem didn’t abandon the Mosaic Law immediately after they were converted and this was especially true of the Pharisees.  They still believed living under that religious system brought them God’s favor.  As you can see, in the verse above Paul declared something quite different, instead of a blessing, attempting to live under that works-based system actually put them under a curse. 

It isn’t hard to see where these folks got the notion that living under the Law and obeying it brought them blessings.  They were reading God’s Word.  Please turn to Psalm 1:1-2:  How (what) blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the (what) law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.    

Here’s one more:  How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD (Psalm 119:1).

If I mention the Ten Commandments, most of you know what I’m referring to.  However, I wonder how many of you are aware there were 613 commandments laid down in the Torah and the Jews had to keep them all!  In addition to that, the Pharisees made up their own complicated regulations called Midrash.  This added thousands of new commandments, i.e. a yoke to the weighty religious load already placed upon the Jews.  These man-made commandments were meant to clarify the original 613 commandments.  Most of the Jews didn’t bother trying to keep these additional commandments the original 613 were challenging enough.  Do you recall Peter’s statement at the Jerusalem Council?  Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples (the Antioch Gentiles) a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?  But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are” (Acts 15:10-11). 

I’ll give you one example of those man-made commandments:  the Mosaic Law commanded the Jews to keep the Sabbath Holy!  This meant the Jews were not to work on Saturdays.  Well, the Pharisees clarified this further by creating 39 separate categories of what “work” means, and within those 39 categories there are many sub-categories.  So, the Pharisees had the Jews go from obeying the LORD’s single command of not “working on the Sabbath” to having to obey literally thousands of these sub-rules. 

One sub-rule said it was unlawful to take more than a “few steps” on the Sabbath; the penalty for breaking this man-made commandment was death (Exodus 31:14-15; Ezekiel 18:4, 20:21).  Now that we know this it helps us understand Jesus’ statement in Matthew 24:20 as He speaks of end time events:  But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.  If the end comes on a Sabbath, a law-keeping Jew could only walk a few steps.  They would be forced to make a decision:  break the law or run for their life!

As I stated above, the average Jew didn’t even try to keep all these additional man-made laws, but the Pharisees did.  They prided themselves on not only following the letter of the Law but the additional laws too.   Jesus Christ held a critical view of the Pharisee’s leadership, saying they were legalistic – only concerned with the external appearance, i.e. keeping the Law (Matthew 15:1-9, 23). 

We know circumcision was one of the Big 3 for the Jews of the Diaspora.  Circumcision is an everlasting covenant the LORD made with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:10-14).  No specific reason for this surgical procedure is given in the text.  All we have to go on is it’s a command from the LORD God.  Most people agree it was an external sign; it meant submitting to God’s will, something most people at this time were reluctant to do, and it marked the individual as a Jew. 

However, this book goes much deeper than that for it teaches us the spiritual significance of circumcision is a matter of the heart (Deuteronomy 30; 1 Samuel 16:7; Matthew 22: 36-40; Romans 2:29).  God wasn’t looking for a nation of religious, law keepers; He was interested in relationships.  Jesus Christ taught His disciples to love God and to love one another as He had loved them!  He said the Pharisees did not have the love of God in their hearts (John 5:42); this was the issue then and it still is today (John 14:6, 14:9) and not just for the Jews… 

The Bible makes its own case for the Law being extremely burdensome and harsh, and not just because the Pharisees took it to the nth degree.  The original 613 commandments didn’t need the Pharisee’s interference to worsen the nation of Israel’s situation.  The Law had two purposes basically; they revealed sin and then condemned the sinner to death.   The Law could not provide God’s righteousness; there was no power in the Law to save anyone.  The Lord Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, is a perfect replica of what God’s law teaches; it was meant to point the nation of Israel to Him, their Redeemer, and His work as the end of the law (Matthew 5:17; Romans 10:4).

Getting back to 3:10, when Paul said, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse,” because it had to be kept perfectly:  For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all (James 2:10). 

Paul’s not saying the Law or God’s Word is imperfect.  No way!  He means to say God never meant for the Law to be the vehicle or the means of our righteousness before Him.  God knew the Israelites could not keep the Law this is why He instituted the atoning system, i.e. the priesthood and the entire sacrificial system.  Millions of animals died; they were sacrificed in God’s Temple for the sins of the Israelites.  But with all that blood being shed and offered up to a Holy God in heaven, not one Jewish sin was removed or taken away:  For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).   

All those religious rites and rituals, the ceremonial washings, the blood sacrifices were mere shadows of what was to come.  They looked forward to Jesus’ one-time sacrifice for all; His ultimate victory over sin and death, through His shed blood, for those who choose to believe (Hebrews 9; 10). 

To prove God’s point, Paul quoted Deuteronomy 27:26:  “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”

I underlined two words to focus on in this passage all and perform.  If God would approve the sinner on the basis of the Law, they would have to ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK.  Not just know about it, not just simply want to do it, the individual had TO PERFORM THEM.  Some of you may have been introduced to the simple Pass/Fail system while you were in school.  In this system there is no middle ground, you either gain favor or you do not.  Well this passage is saying the same thing.  There’s no wiggle room.  You break one law and you’re done!

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; (1 Corinthians 15:56). 

For the law of the Spirit is life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
The curse of the Law is death, this is the second death mention in scripture, it’s eternal separation from a loving God for all of eternity.  How long is eternity; as long as God exists!  And God has always exited…

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

No one has to swim a raging river or climb a high mountain to earn God’s Grace; all they need to do is accept it by faith.  However history reveals the majority of mankind has chosen to scorn God’s Grace, choosing instead a life lived under a curse, not because they failed to perform the works of the Law, but because they try to. 

Verse 11:

Galatians 3

11: Now that no one is justified (declared righteous) by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

If you’re thinking we’ve been here before, you’re right.  Paul brought this point up when he examined the life of Abraham (3:5-9).  But hey, why not “hit it” again; some people, namely the Pharisees, need to hear things more than a few times before the information sinks in.  Paul’s point, again, is no one can become justified in the sight of God by trying to obey the Law, because the Law itself states a person is justified by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).  

The prophet Habakkuk complained to the LORD God about Israel’s (Judah’s) sin.  Their wickedness resulted from the Law being ignored (1:2-4).  Therefore, the law is ignored And justice is never upheld.  For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore, justice comes out perverted (Habakkuk 1:4). 

The LORD’s response to His distressed prophet is He is going to chasten His people with the Chaldeans (1:5-11).  Habakkuk is horrified by this news.  He objects saying the Chaldeans are more wicked and violent than God’s people.  How can a righteous God use a nation so wicked to do His will (1:12-17)?   God answers him in chapter 2 saying the pride of the Chaldeans is sinful and it will eventually be punished (2:4a).  In contrast, the righteous will live by faith (2:4b). 

Bible students ask questions, remember?  How could an Israelite live righteously in the days of Habakkuk when the LORD’s people ignored His Laws, and when Israel’s prideful and violent enemy would soon conquer them?  Habakkuk could not expect the LORD”s blessings on the basis of their obedience to the Law; the people were unfaithful to it.  All he, or any Israelite, could do was to trust in the LORD God and to live by faith, i.e. faith in the LORD”s promises to obtain righteousness.

This book says certain men obtained God’s righteousness without explaining how it was achieved (Enoch, Noah, Seth, etc.).  Abraham was the first individual to be declared righteous and have the method explained to us, and the scriptures do not change this example from then on; not even after the Law is implemented.  For Paul says, no man is justified by the law in the sight of God.  He just used verses from Habakkuk to prove this.     

(To be continued)

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