Today we’re going to look at Galatians 3:15-29…. more specifically the purpose of the Mosaic Lawgiven to Israel – called the (first) or Old Covenant
- and why that Law has no place in the life of a believer in Christ.
- I’ll use the words Law and Old Covenant interchangeably
I. Blessing of Abraham
Galatians 3:15-18: Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. (16) Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (17)And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. (18) For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
- The blessing of Abraham was that by faith we (the Gentiles) might receive the promise of the Spirit.
- God’s covenant with Abraham was in force 430 years before the Law of Moses and was superior to it.
- The promise, or covenant, was made with Abraham and his “Seed” (singular) his one descendant, who is Christ.
- Paul would later tell us in verse 29 that believers are “in” the one seed–Christ.
- Galatians 3:29: And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
- God’s promise of justification through faith (through Christ’s faith) was given long before the introduction of the Law — it’s always been the only way to justification with God.
- Exodus 12:40-41 states that it was 430 years after God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:5-6) that the children of Israel came out of Egypt.
- It was in that same year when the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to Moses (Exodus 20).
- The Law didn’t annul the covenant of faith made with Abraham — it was temporary until Christ came
- And then the new covenant of grace through faith in Jesus annulled the covenant of Law
- The Living Bible paraphrases Hebrews 7:17-18 in the following way: “Here’s what I am trying to say: God’s promise to save through faith–and God wrote this promise down and signed it–could not be canceled or changed four hundred and thirty years later when God gave the Ten Commandments. If obeying those laws could save us, then it is obvious that this would be a different way of gaining God’s favor than Abraham’s way, for he simply accepted God’s promise.”
- Receiving by Law and receiving by promise are opposites.
- Law involves self effort or works — Promise is given as a gift of grace.
- Justification has to be all works or all grace, but not a combination of the two.
- Romans 11:6: And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
To understand why Law and grace don’t mix, we first have to look at the purpose of the Law?
II. Purpose of the Law
Galatians 3:19-22: Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (20)Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. (21) Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. (22) But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
verse 22 in Mirror: Scripture concludes that all men without exception are in the same predicament; they are imprisoned to sin; now faith brings the promise of immediate release within everyone’s reach! Jesus Christ makes it possible for all to believe what God believes concerning their righteousness and restored innocence.
- For 2,000 years, after Adam’s fall, God dealt with mankind through mercy and grace, which wasn’t evident when the Law came.
- For instance, God protected the first murderer (Gen. 4:15) instead of killing him as the Law later prescribed (Lev. 24:17).
- Abraham married his half-sister, which the Law said was punishable by death (Lev. 18:9).
- Jacob married two women who were sisters, which the Law condemned to death (Lev. 18:18).
- Yet Abraham and Jacob became two great patriarchs of the Old Testament because God wasn’t imputing man’s sins unto him at that time (Rom. 5:13).
- But when the Law came, God’s wrath was released against sin (Rom. 4:15), and we got caught in the middle.
- First time wrath is mentioned is after the Law was given
- First person to be killed because of sin is a man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath
- The Law acted as a barrier that prevented us from ever obtaining salvation through our own efforts.
- The Law’s standards were so high that we could never scale them.
- They were bound to it so that they would cry out to God for help.
- It was given because mankind were already beaten by sin and didn’t know it.
- Before they could be motivated to receive God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith in a Savior, they needed to be convinced that they couldn’t save ourselves.
- So, the Lord revealed His standard of holiness (the Law), which was infinitely higher than any person could ever attain.
- They had to come to the end of themselves before they could begin to find God.
- The Law was perfectly suited to do that — to point them to a Savior
- BUT it was always meant to be TEMPORARY – it had an expiration date!
What the Law was not for…….
- The law was only for the Jewish people — it was never for us Gentiles!
- Deuteronomy 4:44: This is the law that Moses set before the people of Israel.
- Deuteronomy 5:3: The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers (those before Moses gave the Law), but with us (the children of Israel), even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
- Leviticus 26:46: These are the decrees, regulations, and instructions that the LORD gave through Moses on Mount Sinai as evidence of the relationship between himself and the Israelites.
- Psalm 147:19-20: He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. (20) He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws.
- Leviticus 27:34: These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in Mount Sinai.
- Psalm 81:4: For it is a statute for Israel, An ordinance (law) of the God of Jacob.
- Romans 9:4: who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,
- Romans 2:14: “For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves.”
- 1 Timothy 1:9: It was made for the unrighteous but not for the righteous.
- you and I are the righteousness of God in Christ
- 2 Cor 5:21: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
- Those Scriptures are pretty specific —
- The Law was not in effect before Moses
- The Law was only for the Jewish people
- He didn’t give His laws to any other nation
- The law was not made for the righteous (Believers in Christ)
- Christianity as a whole has embraced the Old Testament Law & the 10 commandments not realizing that the Law was never intended for them.
- But Christians who embrace the Old Testament Law — Not the Old Testament, but the Mosaic Law as God’s gift to them have misunderstood its purpose.
- A desire to live under the commands of the Old Testament Law is a return to bondage and a misunderstanding of our New Covenant in Jesus
2. The Law couldn’t make us right with God — it couldn’t reconcile us to Him
- The purpose of that Law (for the Jews) was to produce guilt and point them to their need of a Savior
- Romans 3:20: For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
- Romans 3:28: So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
- Romans 4:13: Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith
- Galatians 2:16: Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”
- Galatians 3:11: So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
- Galatians 5:4: For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.
- Titus 3:5: He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
- The Jews of Paul’s day thought that the Law of God was given so that they could earn their salvation through keeping it — that through it they could become righteous and accepted by God
- Many church people of our day think that the Law is our standard for holiness — our way of maintaining our salvation — through it they can grow in holiness, righteousness, godliness, etc. — be accepted by Him
- But that wasn’t its purpose.
What the Law was for….…
To give knowledge of sin
- Galatians 3:19: Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise had been made.
- Romans 3:20: For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
- Romans 7:7: Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.
- Romans 5:20: God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
To point them to Christ
- 2 Tim 3:15: And that from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus
- Luke 24:27: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself.
- Luke 24:44: [Jesus] said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that was written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.
- Acts 3:22-23: Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’ (23) Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’ (24) “Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today.
- Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
- John 5:39: You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me.
- Galatians 3:24: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
WHY THE LAW WAS WEAK………
Heb 7:18: The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless
It couldn’t save us
• Romans 8:3: The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
It could not give life
- Galatians 3:21: Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it.
It couldn’t give the promised Holy Spirit
- Galatians 3:2: I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?
- Galatians 3:14: He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
It couldn’t free us
- Acts 13:39: and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
It couldn’t make us perfect
- Hebrews 7:19: For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
It aroused and increased sin
- Romans 7:5: When we were controlled by our old nature,b sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death
- Romans 7:8: But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power
- Romans 5:20: “Now the law came in to increase the trespass….”
It strengthened sin
- Romans 7:9: At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life
- 1 Cor 15:56: For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.• It constantly reminded us of our sins
- Romans 5:13: To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.
- Hebrews 10:13-14: But instead, those sacrifices (under the Law)actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
THE LAW IS BONDAGE
- Brings a curse
- Galatians 3:10: For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
- Brings death
- 2 Cor. 3:6-7: Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end,
- Romans 7:9-11: Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.
- Brings condemnation
- 2 Cor. 3:9: If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!
- Brings wrath
- Romans 4:15: For the law brings wrath….
Another way to understand how law and grace are incompatible is to look at the Priesthood of Jesus….
III. Jesus’ lineage
- Jesus is our High Priest
- Hebrews 4:14-16 (Amp) In as much then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him].(15) For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. (16) Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].
- Message Bible: Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
PROBLEM: Jesus is of the tribe of Judah NOT Levi!
- According to the Law — this is a problem!
- Numbers 18:1: The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your family are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood.
- Thousands of years Old Covenant priests came from ONLY one tribe — the Tribe of Levi!
- Then comes Jesus who is from the tribe of Judah NOT Levi
- Hebrews 7:13-14 says….. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. (14)For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
- He was unqualified to be High Priest — actually He was more than unqualified… He was disqualified!
- He wasn’t even in the running — according to the Law
- It would’ve been easier if He had been from the tribe of Levi…. He would’ve been recognized for His Levitical authority by the religious rulers
- But God apparently was doing away with the Old Law — and He started with Jesus being a disqualified priest according to Law
But how could Jesus be our High Priest if the Law wouldn’t allow it?
- To have a new priest would require a new law.
- The whole legal system centered in it’s priesthood.
- The whole idea of the law was to have a people united with God.
- Sin was the obstacle to this ideal union and was to be dealt with through the priesthood.
- If the law failed to produce complete fellowship with God, the priesthood was shown to be a failure, and must be abolished
- The change of that priesthood involved the abolition of the entire legal system.
- Hebrews 7:12: For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also
- Our High Priest – Jesus – has a different lineage and the Old Law is entirely incompatible with Him
- So when there was a change of priesthood…. the WHOLE LAW SYSTEM had to change
- Hebrews 5:10: And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
- Melchizadek was a king/priest who lived before the law — Old Law and Jesus just don’t mix
- So when there was a change of priesthood…. the WHOLE LAW SYSTEM had to change
- We can’t serve a non-Levitical high priest and serve the Old Law at the same time….
- We are now married to Jesus and He is not the High Priest of the Old Law but of the New Law – the covenant of grace
- It seems to me that if we serve Jesus while still serving the Law, we are breaking the very Law we are trying to serve
- And we are being unfaithful to the One we are married to by serving another that isn’t part of Him
You have to choose… you can’t serve both
IV. Christ was the end of the Law for ALL who believe
Galatians 3:23-25: But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. (24) Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. (25) But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
- God sent Jesus to redeem us and reconcile us back to Him
- John 3:16-17: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
- Romans 5:8-11: But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
- 2 Cor 5:18-19: And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.
- The New Covenant made an end to the Law for Believers in Christ
- Hebrews 8:13: When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete.Colossians 2:14 (Amp): Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared [a]completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.
- Ephesians 2:14-15: For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.
- Hebrews 8:6-7: But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it.
- Romans 10:4: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
- Galatians 3:25: But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
- Romans 6:14: For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
- Romans 7:6: But now, having died to what bound us, we have been released from the Law, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
V. One in Christ
Galatians 3:26-29: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
verses 26-27 in Mirror: What Jesus Christ believes to be true about you is the final confirmation of mankind’s redeemed sonship. His faith is the only valid reference to your belief! (27) Whoever is immersed in Christ is fully clothed with him! He is your brand new wardrobe confirming your sonship!
- We are now sons
- We are in Christ… we have been baptized into Him… and have clothed ourselves in Him
Why did Paul say Gentile, slave and woman in verse 28?
- The Jews had prayer books and they would read these three specific prayers every morning
- Blessed are you HaShem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a Gentile
- Blessed are you HaShem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a slave.
- Blessed are you HaShem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a woman
- The Law created distinctions that separated Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free
- These no longer exist in Christ… under the New Covenant
- The distinctions created by the Law that separated Jew and Gentile, male and female, etc., no longer exist in Christ Jesus
- Ephesians 2:14: He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations.
- With this declaration, Paul was turning his back on this old system — which was a dividing system
- Paul was saying….. we are all NOW one in Christ
VI. In Closing
Romans 7:4: Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
So…. what is our relationship to the Law (including the 10 commandments) now that we are married to Christ?
- Nothing! — We died to it — We were co-crucified and co-buried with Christ
- Bearing good fruit comes from being united with Christ….NOT from having the law as our standard for living.
- The good news is that Christ fulfilled ALL of the Law (including the 10 commandments) for us…
- His fulfillment is ours…His obedience to the commandments is ours!
10 Commandments are part of the Old Covenant law
- Scripture doesn’t separate them as different from the whole law
- Exodus 34:27-28: Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down all these instructions, for they represent the terms of the covenant I am making with you and with Israel.”Moses remained there on the mountain with the LORD forty days and forty nights. In all that time he ate no bread and drank no water. And the LORD wrote the terms of the covenant—the Ten Commandmentsh—on the stone tablets.
- Paul called them a ministry of death just the same as he called the law a ministry of death
- Speaking of the 10 commandments — 2 Cor 3:7: Now if the ministry of death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at the face of Moses because of its fleeting glory,
- Speaking of the Law — Romans 7:10: I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
- Romans 8:2: For the Law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the Law of sin and death.
- And the Law that is in our minds and written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33-34) is NOT the law of Moses, is NOT a new and improved version of Moses, and is NOT the knowledge of good and evil that Adam gave to us….. BUT IT IS: JESUS
- According to Hebrews 10:16 He wrote laws (plural) on our hearts and our minds.
- different laws mentioned in the New Testament.
- I’ve found 4 —
- The law of love (1 John 4:8)
- Under the new covenant of grace, Love is given to you.
- Out of Christ’s measureless love, we are now able to love others.
- It’s out of the overflow of His Love in us
- It’s not something we have to work up in ourselves towards others or even towards God.
- Romans 5:5 tells us God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
- God abundantly poured His love into our hearts by giving us the Holy Spirit, … the Spirit of Grace.
- The law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2)
- The old law is a what but the new law is a Who.
- The old law ministers condemnation and death (2 Cor 3:7-9), but the new law of the
- Spirit gives life (Rom 8:2). The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6)
- So Who gives life… Who rescued from the frustration of trying to keep the Law?The Spirit of Christ… His life within you.
- The perfect law of liberty (James 1:25)
- It’s Jesus, the living Word who set us free.
- The perfect law of liberty describes what Jesus has done (He perfectly fulfilled/completed the law) and the fruit He will bear in our lives (liberty) if we trust him.
- The law of faith (Romans 3:27)
- Faith is what brings the things God has provided for us from the spiritual realm into the physical realm (Heb. 11:1).
- Our faith is the victory that enables us to overcome the world (1 John 5:4).
- Everything the Lord does for us is accessed through faith — And He has given to us His faith
- Why would we want the Old Covenant Law written on our hearts?
- It is a ministry of death and condemnation.
- The New Covenant of grace and it’s laws that are written on our hearts is a ministry of life.
- The Spirit of Life abides in us and teaches us all things — He transforms us into the image of the Son.
- We don’t need the Old Covenant Law to show us how to live holy lives.
- We’ve already been made holy
- 1 Corinthians 1:30: God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.
- In Christ, we are righteous, holy and free from sin! That’s good news!• 2. Grace not the Law teaches us how to live holy lives
- Titus 2:11-12: For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
- We’ve already been made holy
- Now that Jesus has come, we no longer need the supervision of the law.
- So begin today to live a grace-filled life… standing fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, not becoming entangled again with a yoke of bondage to the Law and it’s commandments.
- The New Covenant is not called the updated covenant, it’s not the amended covenant, or the revised
covenant — it’s a new covenant of grace… of faith, life, love and liberty in Christ.
- There is no such thing as grace-based Law.
- It’s one or the other. It’s law or grace. Which will you choose?