Journal Gal 3 (all references are from the ESV unless noted otherwise; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (Paul speaking) “To give a human example, brothers: Even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified…
This is what I mean: the law (which came 430 years afterward) does not annual a covenant previously ratified by God—so as to make the promise (covenant) void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise…but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For it a law had been given that could give life, the righteousness would indeed be by the law.
But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now, before faith came, we were held captive under the law—imprisoned—until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our “guardian” until Christ came in order that we would be justified by faith.” Excerpts from Gal 3:15-24
Observation: There is an argument going on here with the Galatian church: what are Christians justified by? By keeping the Law (rules) or by Faith? Has the same argument been waged by people over the centuries?
Analysis: Justification and sanctification: these terms get mixed up and misunderstood by the Church seemingly all the time—more operationally than academically.
All I must do is look at myself every morning: What is easier? Following a set of rules, or set off every day in faith? Even these questions are fuzzy because I am not getting to the root of the issue.
What is the root of the daily issue? The Gospel—and how I relate to it; what I remember and pound in my puny brain—because I intrinsically resist Justification by Faith. Intrinsically, because I am eaten up with the Sin of Adam. (Review Gen 3 and especially take notice of the serpent’s whisper to Eve in verse 5: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” Succumbing to the temptation to “be like God” and call my own shots to be equal to God, not ever having His rule over me, a traitor—this is the Sin Jesus died for.)
The Galatians were just like me. I want to live my life with pass/fail, objective rules (the Law)…and I want to be graded on the curve—conducting myself with subjective morality. Except the Law is given to show that Man cannot obey a set of rules and find the result is that God will accept me with mercy and forgiveness: “Aw, you lied on your taxes. That’s alright, everybody did that year…I’ll just forget about it because everybody failed to obey what I said to do.” That is how I can imagine God relating to me. The Galatians did too.
The Law was given to show that everyone fails because of indwelling Sin.
So, what is my point? Unpacking and getting into the foundational principles of the Gospel was important to Paul and should be to me.
Justification by Faith is all of God’s Sovereignty. The Triune God made a way that Sinful Man can be justified and forgiven—it does not include a “check-off” list of rules or Law to be adhered to. The Son of God died for my Sin-STOP. I acknowledge that it is so. STOP. I acknowledge that in FAITH. STOP. I surrender and act accordingly based on that acknowledgment in Faith. STOP.
And I do it every day. Why? Because I forget and want to revert to a list of moral rules for my justification daily—even if these “rules” are scripturally based, I cannot substitute adhering to rules for Faith in Jesus Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice for creation.
PS: Pursuing obedience is the secondary aspect of being a disciple—Sanctification; it cannot get ahead of justification by faith.
Prayer: Father, I think because I am in a hurry to learn and go to the next “thing”, it allows me to minimize the impact of daily reinforcement of the foundation of the Gospel. And I think I cannot skip that daily step of preaching the Gospel to myself…
Even if I do, I remember and try not to forget again.
Ricky Two Shoes