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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Those Foolish Galatians

In pretty much any discussion about keeping the law, Galatians comes to mind, and rightly so because Paul used very strong words with the Galatians believers. But is he really saying what most people think he is saying?

Unfortunately I don't have the time to devote to another full post on this topic, but I want to give a link to a very good study on the subject. This is again another good example of why an accurate translation of the scriptures is so important. The changing of the meaning of even a single word can cause great division in understanding.

In short, Paul tells the Galatians church (former pagans who were being deceived by the Gnostics to adopt pagan rites, the Rabbinical law, and some Christianity in disguise) that they make Christ of no effect if they rely on observing the law (big and little, meaning the traditions of the priests). I think we all agree on that. No one was ever saved by keeping the law (not even the Israelites of the OT). Salvation comes by grace through faith. But then Paul says clearly that it is not the law itself but our sinful nature that condemns us,

"Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law." Galatians 3:21

I also think we need to look outside this one book and see what the rest of scripture says about the law. Here are just a few:

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Romans 3:31

"Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace" Ephesians 2:15

"Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Romans 7:12

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17-19

"For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." Romans 2:13

We have not yet received the fullness of Christ, or we would be perfectly sinless. Therefore, we are still in need of laws. The difference is that before we had the Spirit in us, we had the written law to show us what sin was. Now that we are spirit-filled, he will write the law on our hearts (the same law as is evidenced by the number of times the apostles and the Messiah himself reference the Torah). He cannot write on the hearts of those who do not belong to him. The law was not created 430 years before Jesus, it was written down 430 years before Jesus. The law was in effect before that- how else would Cain have known that killing Abel was sin, how would Noah have known which animals were clean and unclean when he filled the ark, or how would Abraham have known that the sacrifice must be without blemish? The law was written down because the generations continued to fall away form the Father and were not passing the word onto their sons, who had turned to follow the idols of Egypt and were corrupted at heart. The law is a reflection of who God is, and that never changed from the very beginning when sacrifice was needed to cover the sin of Adam and Eve.


Berean Wife said...

I have just a few more questions then I will leave off commenting.

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

There is no way that you continue in all the things written in the Law of Moses. Unless you follow every Law exactly then you are cursed if you choose to be bound by the Law of Moses.

That means you would have to:

Stone children who cursed you – Leviticus 20:9

Eye for Eye, Tooth for tooth - Exodus 21:23-25

Have the Priest examine any wounds on the skin – Leviticus 13

Wear tassels on your garments – Numbers 15:38

I’m not trying to be mean here, but you see that there is no way that you are fulfilling ALL of the Law of Moses, correct? No one but Christ ever did. Christ has redeemed us from that curse.

Galatians 3:13 (KJV) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Romans 7:1-6 (KJV)
1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

See if we continue in the Law of Moses, we are not married to Christ because Christ will not marry an adulterer.

The confusion comes from understanding the differences between the Law of God, the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. This is a wonderful study. But here is a glimpse:

The Law of God – written on the heart of every man (Jew, Gentile, Pagan, believer) this is where do not kill, steal, etc is from. Eternal. All peoples have this on their hearts, even way back to Adam and Eve. They did not have to be told because it was on their hearts and they had an unseared conscious.

The Law of Moses – written on tablets of stone and given to the Jews at Sinai. This includes the Law of God but also laws that no man has written on their heart, such as purification after childbirth, not mixing cloth, etc. This was temporary, definite beginning and end, until Christ fulfilled it.

The Law of Christ – this is written on the heart of only every believer. This is written on the tablets of our flesh, the circumcision without hands. Definite beginning (crucifixion) but Lasts forever. OT saints believe on this promise. While it fully encompasses the Law of God, it adds to it. While everyone knows murder is wrong, only believers understand anger is murder. We are commanded to do everything with a self-sacrificial love for others just as Christ did.

Amy, I know that, unlike some whom I’ve talked to, you truly do desire to do what God will have you to but seriously study the differences in the Laws. 1 Corinthians 9:9-22 contains all three Laws in one passage. Start there. This study will answer some of your questions about obedience.

The Lord has been so merciful to me to allow me to see this so clearly for the first time, hopefully, in such a way as to explain it for others.

Berean Wife

motherofmany said...

You don't need to stop commenting!

Galatians 3:10 says that as many are of the works of the law- in other words, those who are trying to be saved by observing the law. It would require keeping the law exactly forever in order to obtain salvation through this means, and no man can accomplish it. It is not keeping the law that is the issue, but relying on it (or in other words, our works) to save us. And there again Paul says in verse 21 that the law is not against the promises of God.

There are parts of the law that cannot be kept without a temple and a Sanhedrin. There were times when the Israelites did not have a temple or were in captivity and were not held accountable for their inability to perform these tasks. They were instead expected to obey the governing bodies of the place where they found themselves, which is why Daniel was so highly esteemed by the King- he kept both their civil laws and his personal observance of the Torah laws. Paul reitterates our call to obey the government where we live in the NT.

Yet the majority of the civil laws in our countries today are based on the Torah! We still enforce 'eye for an eye' when civil courts grant restitution. Priests no longer quarantine those with communicable diseases, but the health department does. We have stopped stoning children, and in fact stopped allowing parents to discipline them in any practical way, and look where it has left our society!

As to the tassles, I believe we should wear them and that is covered in the next section of the series. We are supposed to follow the law in our station. Jesus never stoned a wayward child, yet he was not guilty of disobedience in this aspect. The law says to take the child to the elders, not to do it yourself. We aren't personally responsible to carry out every aspect of the law because we are not in authority over the people where we live, but we are called to uphold the law and those who enforce it.

Christ did come to redeem us from the curse of the law- the curse being our death sentence for sin. The law itself could not be a curse because it was given by Adonai.

Romans 6 and 7 (they need to be read together) talk about how our sinful nature acts as a law in our flesh (not a holy law, by the way) and how we are freed from that sinful nature's bond on us when we die in Christ. He says in 7:13 that the Torah is not a source of death unto us, but that it is sin that is the curse. In 7:7-12 he discusses that the commandments are holy and they show us what sin is. We must die to the sinful nature in order to be free to marry another (Messiah). We cannot be married to our sinful nature and another at the same time, or we become adulterers. If we cannot keep the law and be married to Christ, the apostles are all lost because they kept the law and preached the gospel.

I do understand where you are coming from, because I had always read these verses the same way you do. But when I would come across verses that say the law is not done away with, that the commandments are good for instructing us in righteous living, and that the law tells us what sin is (and therefor without it we are not giulty of sin) I had to become almost split inside in order to justify the presence of verses that said the contrary. If I read the scriptures without the presupposition that they were going to say the law is done away with, I found them to be in harmony and not disagreement. No one will ever be justified by keeping the law, but that doesn't mean we are free to do as we please. How can we be united with Christ if we are doing the opposite of what he did? How can we be holy as God is holy unless we use his definition of holiness? The law is not against the promise, sin is. And if sin is the transgression of the law, then we ought to keep it in order to avoid sin.

Berean Wife said...


Ok, I commented again but I don't want you to feel I'm judging or picking on you. Just want you to experience the freedoom and joy that is available.

Notice the theme of Romans 6 is sin. Sin is the problem. It is mentioned 18 times. Romans 6 only mentions the Law in one portion.

Romans 6:14-15 (KJV)
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

What does not under the Law mean?

Then Romans 7:1-6 the theme changes to The Law. The Law didn’t solve that problem of sin.
Romans 8 shares the solution that through Christ and the Law of the Spirit we are sanctified.

But there is a little noticed fact in Romans. See you are correct that Paul relates how sin acts as a law in our flesh.

Romans 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. KJV

This distinction is also in Romans 2, notice how the wording changes from “the law”, “the law”, and “the law” to “a law”, then back to “the Law”!

Romans 2:14-15 (KJV)
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

The articles (a, the) and the qualifiers (of Moses, of the Spirit, of Christ, etc) make huge differences in the Greek. “The Law” is not the same as “a law.”

When Paul is talking about “a law” it a principle, while “the Law” generally refers to the Law of Moses, unless a different qualifier is used.

The apostles lived at a different time, a time of transition from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ. They did start out by following the Law of Moses. They were also Jews as we Gentiles are not. However, many disciples were martyred by the Jews themselves because they were accused of breaking the Law of Moses and teaching others to do the same. See the disciples transitioned from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ.

“How can we be united with Christ if we are doing the opposite of what he did? How can we be holy as God is holy unless we use his definition of holiness? The law is not against the promise, sin is. And if sin is the transgression of the law, then we ought to keep it in order to avoid sin.”

But see that is “works”. We will never be holy no matter how well we follow The Law. Our holiness is imputed holiness from Christ. When God looks at believers He is seeing Christ. Christ is our holiness and righteousness. God can never look upon us; we are sin, without the imputed righteousness of Christ.

You are saying God is happier with you because you keep The Law. But God is not pleased with any of us. God is only pleased with His Son. Unless we are fully covered by the righteousness of Christ, we are displeasing to God. Why think we can add to the holiness of Christ by our feeble actions? You can keep The Law of Moses but that does not make you more Holy. I can keep the Law of Christ but that does not make me more Holy. However, if we are trusting in the holiness from Christ, then I can obey the Law of Christ through the leading of the Holy Spirit, without whom I could do nothing but sin. But I’ve not added to my holiness, I’m perfectly holy with the Holiness of Christ. But because I love the Lord I strive to obey His commands which are not burdensome - love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. Is that making sense?

There are so many verses I could add but they won’t all fit in the comment box. :0

Berean Wife

motherofmany said...

We completely agree that nothing we do can make us holy (our righteousness is as filthy rags). Only the blood of Yeshua can make us holy before Yah. But he says to be holy as he is holy, and when he said that he was quoting directly from the Torah. And yes, if we love him, we should obey his commandments which are not a burden. But those commandments include the whole law, because all of it came from the Father. Moses did not write his own law. Yeshua's law was a reiteration of the law with emphasis on not just keeping the letter, but the essence. Because we have been given forgiveness, we need to walk all the more righteously than those who were awaiting their future deliverance. Thus his saying that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. They kept the letter of the, such as not committing adultery, but he said they were still guilty of sin because their lust was coveting. He has freed us of the curse of the law (death), but he freed us in order to make us slaves to righteousness.

Romans 6 sets the stage for Romans 7 by telling us that we are ruled by the law of our sinful nature. & tells us that it is not keeping the law that saves us, yet several time in this chapter Paul talks about how the law is not the problem. He ends the chapter by saying that he serves the law in his mind (desire) but struggles with the law of sin in his flesh. In his mind, he desires to keep God’s laws (7:22) He references David a lot, and David wrote about reading the Torah and dwelling on its words.

There are scores of verses that tell us what we can do to please the Father, and they refer to obeying his commandments and walking by faith. The two are not opposed to one another.