As we go into the third week in our in-depth Bible Study on the Book of Galatians, we’ve talked so much about God’s grace and our redemption because of His grace, and how we as Christians are to defend our faith in Jesus Christ and it only gets better from here.
In this week’s post, we will be discussing chapter 3 of Galatians where Paul is speaking to the people of Galatia about how they are justified by faith and NOT by their adherence to the Law of Moses about being justified by works in order to be saved and how this chapter can be applied to us as Christians today.
We know that the word justification means to “declare righteous” and so; as we dive into this chapter, we will begin to see that we as Christians are justified by our faith in Christ Jesus and have been saved from the wrath of God.
Romans 5:9-10 (NKJV)
“9. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10. For if we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
What I like about these two verses is that Paul while speaking to the people of Rome, I feel was also speaking to us modern-day Christians as well about how we are justified through His blood on Cavalry and it’s because of His death and resurrection that we are now reconciled with God, but we as Christians shouldn’t stop there.
Because we have been reconciled to God, we should go out into the world and tell others that they too have been declared righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ and this is the premise of the whole chapter. In verse 1, we see Paul bewildered that the people of Galatia have been “bewitched” into the teaching that they can be saved through the Law of Moses (see Galatians 1:6-7).
“As Christians, we are justified or declared righteous by God because of His Son Jesus Christ and through His death, burial, and resurrection.“
We also see that Paul tries to tell the Galatians of the fact that the crucified Jesus Christ that they know has been in front of them the whole time but they have been deceived into believing a false narrative of Jesus Christ. As we go into verses 2 and 3; you’ll see that Paul asks the people of Galatia 2 different questions about where they received the Holy Spirit, but I feel that Paul’s questions could be questions that we as Christians today haven’t answered.
In Galatians 3:2-3, Paul writes, “2. This only I want to know from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3. Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect in the flesh?”
In my opinion, I feel that Paul is also directing these questions to us as Christians in the sense that we maybe have forgotten where we receive the Holy Spirit. In my study Bible; it has a notation on these verses that says:
“Paul reminds the Galatians that their Christian life has begun in the Spirit by faith alone… the Galatians were mistakenly trying to achieve perfection through their own efforts…”
What I like about this notation is that Paul; while writing to the Galatian churches, could also be writing directly to us about how we began our life as Christians through the guidance of the Holy Spirit but have since fallen off the “tracks” and in order to achieve perfection through the world.
We see in verse 5 that Paul reminds the people of Galatia that Jesus supplied them with the Holy Spirit through their faith; not by their adherence to the Law of Moses and that’s the key phrase behind this blog post: “Through faith”. As Christians today, we sometimes twist the definition of the word “faith” so we can forget that it’s only through our faith in Jesus Christ that we were reconciled to the Father and was redeemed.
Later in verses 6-8, we see how Paul compares the wavering faith of the Galatians to Abraham telling them that Abraham believed God through faith and how it was accounted for him referencing Romans 4:2-3 saying, “2. For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
For me, the key word in those two verses was “believed” because it shows that Abraham didn’t follow some laws given to him, he just believed God; which was something the Galatians weren’t doing. As we later in verses 10-13, Paul was reminding the Galatians that those who were under the Law of Moses were “under the curse.”
Paul quoted Habakkuk 2:4 to demonstrate that a person can only be justified through faith and that keeping to the law to gain salvation is utterly incompatible with faith.
“… a person can only be justified through faith and that keeping to the law to gain salvation is utterly incompatible with faith.”
When Paul mentioned “under the curse”, he also was referencing Deuteronomy 27:26 which mentions those who don’t follow the Law of Moses. But, as Christians; we are not under the Law of Moses but under the law of Christ Jesus. In Galatians 3:13, Paul writes, “13. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.”)
What I find very interesting about this verse is that Paul is always pointing back to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the focal point for his message to the people of Galatia while stressing that we became free from the curse of sin and death because Jesus Christ became sin for us.
“… we became free from the curse of sin and death because Jesus Christ became sin for us.”
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been justified by faith and because of that; we ALL can receive the promise and gift of the Holy Spirit if we choose to believe and have faith in the resurrected King. Our justification came at a cost; because we were sinners, God had to send His Son Jesus Christ to the Earth in order to reconcile us back to Him;
So, we as Christians should never get it twisted that we are reconciled back to God by our own free will; because we aren’t. Paul makes this point very clear in verses 16-17 when he’s talking about Abraham and his Seed and the promise that came from it. Abraham’s promise was “passed” to Jesus Christ; who fulfilled the promise of Abraham when He died on the Cross.
But, here’s a question that came to me while reading these verses: Why do we still believe that we don’t deserve God’s grace and the promises He made to us?
Why do we as Christians feel that we don’t deserve God’s grace? Paul was reminding the people of Galatia that the Law of Moses CANNOT annul the covenant that God has already made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 about all of the families of the earth being blessed through him because of his faith in the Lord.
As such, Paul goes on in verses 19-20 to explain that the purpose of the Law of Moses was because the Israelites continued to transgress against the Lord and that it was only when Jesus Christ came to fulfill the promise of Abraham that the Law of Moses became unnecessary to receive salvation.
I feel that Paul was trying to tell us Christians today that because Jesus Christ came to fulfill the promise of Abraham, we no longer need a “law” to reconcile our sin to the Lord, but we can now go to the Lord ourselves.
“Jesus Christ came to fulfill the promise of Abraham, we no longer need a “law” to reconcile our sin to the Lord, but we can now go to the Lord ourselves.”
We later see in verses 21-22 that the Apostle Paul reminds the people of Galatia and us today that the Law of Moses wasn’t designed to bring salvation, but through Jesus Christ is where we would find our salvation, reconciliation, and justification.
Paul also tells the Galatians that if the Law of Moses did provide the path to salvation there would be no need for Jesus Christ to come to the Earth and die on the Cross.
In verse 22, Paul writes “22. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” What I like about this passage of Scripture is that Paul is not only reminding the people of Galatia, but us as Christians today that we all were once under the curse of sin and death; but it was only through those who believe and had faith IN Jesus Chris that the promise of redemption and reconciliation was given.
We later read in verses 24 and 25 that the Law of Moses was only given as a tutor; only bringing us to the revelation of Jesus Christ so that all people could be justified by faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:24-25 says, “24. Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” What I found really fascinating with these verses is that after Jesus Christ died for our sins, the need for correction by a tutor became unnecessary.
“… we all were once under the curse of sin and death, but it was only through those who believe and had faith IN Jesus Chris that the promise of redemption and reconciliation was given.”
As we later see in verses 26, Paul tells the people of Galatia and us as Christians today that “26. For you, are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ.” and we see once again that phrase “through faith” and I really feel it’s important that we Christians today acknowledge that because it’s only THROUGH FAITH in Jesus Christ that we became justified and were reconciled back to God.
In verse 28, Paul clarifies what he spoke about in verse 26 about us all being sons of God because he mentions that it’s neither being the Jews, Gentiles, slaves, free, male or female that become accepted by Christ but that all people now have access to being justified by faith in Christ Jesus.
What I find very fascinating about this topic on being justified by faith is that it’s because of Christ’s death and resurrection that we as fallen human beings were then brought back to God and as such; we became sons and daughters of God and heirs to the promise of Abraham.
In the end, though, being justified by faith is only a small part of our relationship with Christ. Being justified or declared righteous by the death and resurrection of Christ is an amazing expression of God’s grace and how much He still cares and wants us fallen human beings to turn back to Him.
As sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus, we are to be the light of the world and show others the light of Christ that is on the inside of us.
So, What does being justified by faith mean to you?
Why do we still believe that we don’t deserve God’s grace and the promises He made to us?
If we are free from the curse of sin and death through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, why then do we still fall victim to the desires of our flesh?
Stay tuned because next week we will be discussing what it means to be Heirs to Christ and the Promise of Abraham.
Author Unknown. “Galatians 3:13 (NKJV)”, https://bible.faithlife.com/bible/Ga3.13 . Accessed 8 Jun 2018.
Churcho1943. “07 the road of faith”, https://www.slideshare.net/chucho1943/07-the-road-of-faith . Accessed 8 Jun 2018.
Harrington, Cecily. “The Angels of God Class 4: The Angels are your Friends.”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/6250278/ . Accessed 8 Jun 2018.
Hines, Rogers. “14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/9199950/ . modified over 2 years ago, Accessed 7 Jun 2018.
Logan, Catherine. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/9191415/ . modified over 2 years ago, Accessed 7 Jun 2018.
Shadwell, Victoria. “The Seed Promise”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/3581182/ . Accessed 8 Jun 2018.
Turner, David. “Abram: Anxious For God’s Promise – Genesis 15:1-6”, 8 Jan 2015, https://www.slideshare.net/DavidTurner28/the-covenant-promise-gen-15 . Accessed 8 Jun 2018.