Episode #165. Today we’ll read Galatians chapter 3 together: Paul speaks of justification through faith; law and promise; and explains the purpose of the law.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #165. Today we’ll read Galatians chapter 3 together: Paul speaks of justification through faith; law and promise; and explains the purpose of the law.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
I struggle with giving unconditional grace. It probably started because my dad always had expectations before he doled out too much love. He had a pretty tough childhood where not a lot of grace was given, etcetera, etcetera, and so it goes. So even though I believe very strongly intellectually that Christ died for me and offers this unconditional grace, the trip between my head and my heart (where my actions live), is sometimes a very long distance. I have to work very intentionally to give unconditional grace because it’s difficult for me to accept that Christ could love me that much. I think I should earn it.
You might remember that our book club – Ladies of the Club – is reading Les Parrot’s book called Love Like That, which walks us through five things we can practice to help us love like Jesus. The chapter we’re on is called Grace-ful, and as you would expect, it’s about giving unconditional grace like Jesus. The author contends that our inability to give grace is associated with judgementalism. Probably true. He says that we, as humans, value what is fair, and grace is not fair. I thought that was so interesting. Grace isn’t fair, but what a delightful injustice it is!
But it’s hard to give grace when we think we have to earn it. He says if we’re working hard to earn God’s favor, we think everyone else should too. His exercise for combating the withholding of grace is unexpected.
Mr. Parrot suggests conjuring curiosity. He contends that curiosity squashes judge-y thoughts and makes a space for grace. You see, when we don’t know enough about a person or a situation, we’re typically all too happy to fill in the gaps with our own critical thoughts. He suggests asking yourself this: I wonder what’s going on with that person that I don’t know about? Simple, but genius. You know, I’ve thought about doing this before, but it’s maddening when I go into defense mode before asking it! It would save so much grief and be so much more pleasing to God if I would just remember this simple question.
Galatians Chapter 3
Justification through Faith
You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh? Did you experience so much for nothing — if in fact it was for nothing? So then, does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law? Or is it by believing what you heard — just like Abraham who believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness?
You know, then, that those who have faith, these are Abraham’s sons. Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and proclaimed the gospel ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you. Consequently, those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith.
Law and Promise
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed. Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Brothers and sisters, I’m using a human illustration. No one sets aside or makes additions to a validated human will. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ. My point is this: The law, which came 430 years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously established by God and thus cancel the promise. For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on the promise; but God has graciously given it to Abraham through the promise.
The Purpose of the Law
Why, then, was the law given? It was added for the sake of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. The law was put into effect through angels by means of a mediator. Now a mediator is not just for one person alone, but God is one. Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not!
For if the law had been granted with the ability to give life, then righteousness would certainly be on the basis of the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise might be given on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.
Sons and Heirs
For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.
Foolish Galatians! If only that foolishness was confined to the Galatians! I think verse 3 is one of the most profound and convicting questions in the entirety of the New Testament. It was only recently that I even ‘saw’ it for the first time. I stumbled on it by happenstance while chasing a rabbit not too long back. Well, let’s assume there is no happenstance with God and the study of His word. After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh? Indeed, how foolish can we be? How can we know that we know that salvation comes through faith in Christ and then so easily turn around and think we have to earn it; that it comes through the Law?
Belief – deep faith and trust – was credited as righteousness to Abraham! And according to Paul here, it’s because of our faith that we are Abraham’s children, not because of circumcision. And everyone has access! They must only believe. Let’s pray.
Oh, dear God, what wonderful news this is! Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief! We are sold out to You and forever in Your debt for Your indescribable gift; for doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Thank You…a million times, thank You. Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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