If you have been following what I have shared with you these past few weeks, you will see that there is a lot of repletion; I have said this on a number of occasions.
Now that we come to the second part of chapter three we see that Paul develops his argument- the Judaisers, became legalistic. I reckon that the most frustrating thing for Paul was that the problem he faced did not come from outside the church, it was from within.
It is a lot harder to deal with problems from within particularly when there are those who are strongly opposed to what you believe.
Paul revisits the idea of the law and in doing so he gives his readers a different perspective of the law. The law was never meant to become legalistic.
He points out that Grace is something that we do not deserve, it is God’s fee gift- it emancipates us, it gives us freedom and it leads us to God the Father, we have unrestricted access.
Now if this is the case, those who have been seduced to follow the legalism of the Law are no longer freed by Grace, they have put themselves under bondage once again- and in doing this they have denied the power of the cross of Christ.
As Paul develops his argument he goes back to the Cross of Christ- he starts at the beginning.
This is what he says about those who have become legalistic; Verses 10-14
- They are under a curse.(vs 10)
- We cannot rely on the law to be justified before God. In fact the law points us to sin and sin condemns. (vs 11)
- The righteous live by faith. (last week Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness) (vs 11)
- The Law is not based on faith. (vs 12)
- Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law. This is the purpose of the Cross. (vs 13)
- Abraham’s blessing becomes ours.
- This OT blessing saw its fulfillment at Pentecost; this blessing is the Holy Spirit. (vs 14, Last week’s message)
The apostle continues to explain to his readers why he is upset with them.
As we look at verses 15- 22 I can imagine Paul saying; “Hey guys” this is important!” Look at history, if you have a contract you cannot add or take from it at will. So too with the contract that God has with us. It was established 430 years before the Law of Moses.”
This is important for us to understand. This teaching is also made clear by the writer of Hebrews.
- You cannot change an existing contract or covenant. (Vs 15)
- Abraham was the recipient of that covenant so too his seed. (16) Paul says that this is a direct reference for the Lord Jesus. The author of Hebrews goes to great lengths to explain that the covenant that God made was the first and oldest, it came before the Law and is still valid, that covenant found it’s fulfilment in the Lord Jesus! The Covenant of the law according to Hebrews had become obsolete! Hebrews 8:12-13 “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.” 13When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. 2 Corinthians 3:6
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. What a fantastic blessing, we are made competent!
- The Law was given to point out sin and to point the way like a sign post to the Lord Jesus. (vs 19) The best way I can explain this section is to look at the various laws of the land, when you are pulled over by a policeman, or get a speeding ticket in the mail, what is it that you have been accused of doing? I would assume that you were speeding, or you went through a red light- How do we now that we are speeding? There is a sign, on that sign there is a speed limit, it is more than just a suggestion, in fact it is the law, don’t go faster than this! Now tell me, how many of us have read the sign and still went over the speed limit? It is spelt out ‘we have transgressed’ to transgress is to disobey, to misbehave, to wilfully do wrong. What if you are unaware of the speed limit, would the magistrate let you off? Unlikely, he would say ignorance is no excuse.
- The Law is the task master that makes us aware of our sin. Paul says that it is a curse.
- The Cross of Christ is the very thing that justifies us before God. Vs 13 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,
- Paul’s argument goes back to Abraham, he says that the promise was to him and to his seed, that is the Lord Jesus, and this promise has an inheritance for all who would believe. That inheritance is the product not of works, or the Law, or how much faith I can muster; NO it is the product of God’s Grace.
- He goes on to explain that if the Jews understood the Law they would turn to the Lord Jesus and receive God’s free Grace for this is the purpose of the Law.
- Most if not all contracts have two parties, the contract that Paul talks about is the same as the one the author of Hebrews talks about, this contract only has one signatory- GOD- for there is no other who can stand before God or deal with sin. God has no equals, there is only one God.
- The beautiful thing about this is that the Law was part of God’s plan, there is nothing wrong with the Law- it serves a purpose. It points to the Lord Jesus! In the same way that God has no equals, there is only one God, there is only one way to God the Father and that is made possible by the Cross of Christ- We are all familiar with John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
What I have said are the facts and the theory- the message should go beyond facts and theory. See what Paul is saying in vs 21-22. This is where the rubber it’s the road.
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
These verses are the practical application.
- The Law defines sin.
- The Law cannot cure sin nor impart life! In fact just the opposite.
- Try as much as we can we can never keep or satisfy the Law.
- Everything is under the control of sin.
- Grace on the other is solely dependant on God and His word and His trustworthiness.
- There was a promise and that promise is released by faith.
God calls each one of us to faith, to believe.