Preparation for Deuternonomy: Galatians 3. James Dale
Preparation for Deuternonomy: Galatians 3. James Dale, Text (followed by Audio)
Freeze Church Sermon
April 8, 2018
Why the Law?
What is a Christian? Has anyone asked you that question? Or maybe I should ask, “If anyone asked you that question, what would your answer?” Would someone stand up and quote I Peter 3:14 right now ……………… Great! Now, do you know what the very next verse is?
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. I Peter 3:15
The Bible instructs us to know how to answer this question. The principal of a Christian school told his faculty one time that, even though every person in the room had a testimony of being saved, they would not agree to the answer to that question of what is a Christian if they all wrote their answer on a sheet of paper. Do you agree with him? This would be an interesting experiment which I’m not going to pursue this morning. But I will say that there is a definitive answer, and we need to know what that answer is if we are to study the book of Deuteronomy.
I’ve selected the third chapter of passage of Galatians to answer that question because it brings up the Mosaic law and how it relates to becoming and living as a Christian. We need to know not only “What is a Christian?” but “Why the Law?” if we are to study this extremely important book of the law for several months.
Read Galatians 3; Prayer
If a person asked me that question, I would go directly to Romans 8:9.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
The Scriptural answer to “What is a Christian?” is … he is a person who has received the Spirit of God (the Spirit of Christ) to live in him.
This, of course, creates more questions including the one we are asking today, “Why the law?”. Paul does a good job in answering these questions in Galatians 3, so let’s begin to answer some of these questions.
If a Christian is defined by a person who has the Spirit of God dwelling in him, then how does one get the Spirit to live inside of him?
Verse 11 – Paul refers to a verse in Hab 2:4 and states that we are restored to righteousness
before God by faith not the law.
Verse 12 – If you try to be justified by the law, then you have to keep all 613 of the
commandments perfectly every day.
Verse 13 – The penalty of breaking the law is death and Christ paid it for us.
Verse 14 – This blessing of forgiveness of sin is given both to Abraham and the Gentiles through
the Spirit which is promised through faith.
We receive the promise of the Spirit as a gift by faith, not by the work of the law, just like Abraham did.
When was the Spirit given?
Verse 16 – The Spirit in us was a promise made to Abraham and to his Seed (Christ).
Verse 17 – This promise (covenant), which was made before the law was given, was fulfilled in
Verse 17,18 – The law was given temporarily until the promise was fulfilled.
The Spirit was given after Christ died, was buried, and rose again. This was promised to Abraham and to his Seed. Christ the Spirit is received by believing the promise … both Abraham and any that believe including Gentiles.
But the law was given 430 years after Abraham and 1500 years before Christ. So why the law?
To answer this question, it would be helpful to see a timeline. God’s plan for salvation takes place in time and space. Remember, it is not the “Great Circle of Life”, it is the “Great Line of Life”. God’s plan is linear. There was a beginning and there will be an ending. He is sovereign and He will accomplish everything that He planned in His time.
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. Isa 46:9,10
However, for man the way it works out depends on where he is inserted on this time line. Using my prerogative as a math teacher to round dates a teeny bit, we have this rough timeline of history:
Adam Noah Abraham Moses Christ 1st Christ 2nd
↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ LAW ↓ SPIRIT ↓
4000 BC 2500 BC 2000 BC 1500 BC 0 BC ?
(1500 yrs (500 yrs (500 yrs (1500 yrs (2000 yrs
passed) passed) passed) passed) plus)
Verse 19 - The Bible says that the law was added into the timeline because of sin until the Seed should come (i.e. – Christ, see verse 16). Abraham didn’t know it at the time, but the promise of the Spirit (Christ) was not going to happen for another 2000 years.
From God’s point of view, to accomplish His plan, He would need a son of promise from Abraham named Isaac. Then, from Isaac, He had to build a nation from which would come the Messiah. It took 500 years for Abraham/Isaac/Jacob’s descendants to become a nation in Egypt. But there is still 1500 more years to go before the “fulness of time” (Eph 1:10) would come.
Here’s the dilemma … how do you keep a race of people separated from the world and protected from transgression until the right time? The way God did it was to give them the law because it served at least 3 purposes.
1. Verse 19 – Provided atonement for sins by faith until Christ comes (“because of transgressions”).
2. Verses 21,22 – Proved we are sinners in need of salvation (“Righteousness should have been by the law” and “concluded all under sin”.
3. Verses 23-25 – Pictures the faith we need in Christ (“schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ”) Just like a teacher shows us knowledge, the law demonstrates what that faith looks like that is going to save us. I think it can be pictured in two ways:
- A national identity (“kept under the law”) … When we see the way God deals with the Jewish nation, we can see what God is like. Think of the sabbath, circumcision, isolationism from intermarrying with the Gentiles, the sacrifices. This gives them an identity and common roots as a nation that has lasted for thousands of years, but it also helps us see God’s character as we watch how he deals with them.
- The law (“schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ”) … these laws and sacrifices is a picture of Christ. We can learn about who Christ is and what he did by studying the law. Look for Christ because he fulfilled the law perfectly.
Verse 26 - (“Ye are all children of God by faith”) Do you see that people have always been saved by faith in Christ whether you were born in the Old Testament or in the New Testament? Once Christ came, there was no need for the ceremony of the law because the promise of the Spirit had been kept. However, instead of the law keeping us, now the Spirit keeps us. We still live by faith in dealing with our sin, but not by the structure of the law. We now walk by the Spirit not by the law.
By the way, the moral parts of the law (i.e. – the ten commandments) are still in force and repeated in the New Testament, but we receive forgiveness daily by the Spirit, not by sacrifices (the ceremonial law). Not only that, but we have received a new heart which desires to obey the commandments – the new man. It is the same principle … the just shall live by faith (the moral law).
Here is an example from Col 2:16-23 when Paul gives strict warning about not following the law (the ceremonial law). However, he then begins in chapter 3 to tell what we should really be doing (the moral law) by walking in the Spirit.
Let me suggest that are at least three ways we can apply this as we study the book of Deuteronomy for the next few months.
1. Provided - Walk in the Spirit. Ask ourselves, “Is there a specific sin that I need to repent of?” When we are in the Word, the Spirit that is in our lives is going to convict us of sin. When that happens, put off the old man and put on the new man by faith.
2. Proved - Look for our sin. Ask ourselves, “What does this teach me about myself and my need for a savior?”
3. Pictured - Look for Jesus. Ask ourselves, “What does what I see here in the law teach me about Christ?”
In Deuteronomy we will be studying the law. The ten commandments were not given to show us how to be righteous before God. Neither they nor we are able to keep the law. The law was given to show us how short we come of God’s standards. That is why God followed the moral law with the ceremonial law … the sacrificial system. Innocent animals were slain and presented in faith to God as a substitute for the sinner. When sacrifices were offered in faith, God covered their sin until the fullness of time when the true Lamb of God came.
Luke 1:6 – When the Bible say that Zechariah and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist, were righteous and blameless, it did not mean that they kept the law perfectly and didn’t sin. It means they followed the ceremonial law of sacrifices by faith when they sinned.
Now, when we sin, we confess trusting in faith that the Spirit of Christ has covered our sins until Christ comes again, but in the meantime, we have the promised Spirit of God living in us.
This brings us back to where we started. What is a Christian? We are living in the days where the Spirit of God has been given. To receive the Spirit, it is a simple act of faith of recognizing we are a sinner and need Jesus as a savior. When we in simple faith believe that and ask him, He will enter your life and you will be a new creature. Then as we live as a Christian, we are in the Word and confess by faith when we are aware of sin.