Since we have been studying in the book of Galatians, we have learned that the works of the Law should not be equated with the Ten Commandments; but rather the Mosaic Law, which was the outworking or the edicts that came down from the judgment seat of Moses, as he heard legal cases and then rendered his verdicts. So let us start in Galatians chapter 3:
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
The people of Galatia had come into Christianity believing that the Lord Jesus Christ had purchased their righteousness with His death and resurrection, but because of those Jews who were seeking to turn the new Christians into Jewish proselytes first, the Apostle Paul vehemently asks them, “who has bewitched you…?” Paul then wanted to know why these Galatians had obviously believed that they had received the Holy Spirit, but were now trying to make themselves righteous through the keeping of the Mosaic laws.
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Paul was telling them that they were already in the family of God…through faithful Abraham who had received his righteousness because he chose to believe what God had told him regarding the promise of a son being born to him and Sarah even when they were too old to have any children. Yet he believed and so received righteousness.
The Galatians had believed what the Apostle Paul had taught them and so had believed that the Lord Jesus Christ had purchased their salvation through His holy blood, which He shed at the cross at Calvary, and they too like all other new converts to Christianity are given the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But they had been led astray to believe that they had to establish their own righteousness through keeping of the Mosaic laws.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
This author has heard many interpretations of this next passage: blatant misinterpretations; deliberate eisegetical attempts and then there are those who have been taught that because of this passage, we are no longer under ANY laws (cough, cough). Okay…readers are you ready?
1) Being under God’s law is a curse!
2) The laws of God ARE a curse!
3) Jesus Christ redeemed us from that cursed law.
4) Jesus tried to keep them and He became cursed.
But are these last four views really true? No. The problem lies in the fact that a lot of people skim read and they do not reflect on that which they have just read, thereby making the text totally open to their own personal interpretation. Or, they try to pigeon-hole what they just read with other teachings that they have heard and then arrive at a totally new mixture.
Here is a brief correction to the four views listed above:
1) Being under God’s laws is a blessing
2) The laws of God are HOLY
3) Jesus Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, not the cursed law.
4) Jesus didn’t TRY to keep God’s laws; He KEPT all of them, yet still chose to bear our curse, thus becoming a cursed one for us by bearing our punishment and being put to death in our place.
In a nutshell, the curse of the Law was that if you broke these laws, you were worthy to be put to death; it was that serious. But God’s laws are Holy. So what is the problem? If you choose to reject God’s Holy One, the Lord Jesus Christ, you end up trying to establish your OWN righteousness rather than receiving the free gift which is ‘the righteousness of Christ.’ From this starting point, we are now able to keep God’s laws, His Ten Commandments, when and as we submit to the leading of His Holy Spirit.
Stay Tuned for Part 14!