The promise

Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you into ignoring the truth? For Jesus Christ’s death was clearly presented as if you were actually there.

Let me ask you this one question: did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law or believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Do you think that after starting new lives in the Spirit you will be perfected in the flesh? Have you experienced so much for nothing? It wasn’t really for nothing, was it?

Let me ask you again: does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law or because you believe what you heard? It’s because you believe. And in just the same way “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

So the real children of Abraham, then, are those who have faith. What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.

But those who depend on the law to put them right with God are under a curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” So it’s quite clear that no one becomes right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures also say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” The law is not based on faith, for it says, “It is only by obeying the whole of the law that a person will get to see life.”

But Christ has rescued us from the curse of the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.

Dear brothers and sisters, here’s an example from everyday life: just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case. God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and by that it means Christ. What I am saying is: the agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses, because God would be breaking his promise. But if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it wouldn’t be as the result of accepting God’s promise. But God did indeed give it to Abraham as a promise.

Why, then, was the law given? It was given to show people their sins. However, the law was only designed to last until the coming of the one who was promised. The law by angels and entrusted to a mediator, Moses, between God and the people. Now a mediator is needed in an agreement between more than one party. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham.

So, is there any conflict between the law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we would be put right with God by obeying it, but the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin. So we receive God’s promise of freedom by faith in Jesus Christ.

Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under the guardianship of the law. We were kept in custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.

Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be put right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been clothed with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.


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