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  • Paul continues to explain the problems with legalism and how the Galatians are allowing themselves to be deceived by false teachings.

    Chapter Three

    I'm not sure who put this nonsense in your heads, but I do know you were taught the truth by the Holy Spirit when I preached to you. You know works are important, but works cannot redeem you from sin. Only faith in the mercy and love of Jesus can do that.

    I know you are much smarter than this. Do you honestly believe that the Holy Spirit will somehow justify you through rituals and sacrifices of animals? You know better. Do you think when a minister of the Gospel speaks of redemption in faith there is something else you can do to save your soul?

    Or do you think because some men are descended from the families of Abraham they are somehow more holy? I'll tell you now, those who believe and trust God are the true descendents of Abraham. The Scriptures back me up on this; they say God wants to save everyone, not just one tribe or one people. This is what God meant when he told Abraham, “In your seed will all nations be blessed.”. Faith, not bloodlines, makes you a descendent of Abraham.

    Now if you choose to ignore faith for the law, you are cursed. The scripture says all have sinned, all have fallen short of the glory of God, and under the law, all men are cursed. The law condemns us all, and no man can be justified before God by the law. You can only be justified by faith.

    The laws are rules sent down to teach us obedience, but we don't obey them, and even when we do, following the law alone does not make a man righteous. Only the sacrifice of Jesus, done once to save all mankind, will justify a person before God. Christ freed us by His sacrifice, because he knew we were condemned by the laws.

    This is the reason God chose to redeem man by coming to us in the form of Jesus Christ, so that all men, Jew and Gentile, could receive the Holy Spirit through faith. Men say that when a theory is accepted as truth and needs no other alterations, they accept theory as fact.

    Since we accept Abraham as the seed of all mankind through Isaac and Ishmael, we know this was God's intent all along, that all men be redeemed through the sacrifice of Christ. Remember, the law came four hundred and thirty years after God's promise to Abraham. The law, therefore, cannot supersede God's promise.

    Living by the law alone means you are choosing to ignore God's promise and remain in your sins, since the law is what declares your sins. Without the law, there is no sin, and no need of a mediator to act on your behalf before God. God is the mediator since he made both the promise and the law.

    Now none of this means you are free to break the laws, since God gave them to us to keep us from sin. But since we have all sinned, according to the scriptures, we are all in need of a mediator, and that mediator is Jesus, our Lord and God in human form.

    The law was given to guide us away from sin, and to teach us to live as God wanted. Since we have all broken the law, we know the law cannot make us righteous. Only faith in the promise of God through the shed blood of Jesus can make us righteous in the eyes of God.

    Before Jesus, we had to follow the laws in order to learn the truth. The law was our teacher, to bring us to the knowledge that Christ would redeem us by faith.

    Now once we have accepted the Holy Spirit, we are of faith and have no need for remedial education. You are now God's children by your faith in Jesus. Once you have been baptized in Christ, you are risen in Christ. You are no longer Greeks or Jews, servants or freemen, not even male or female. You are Christians, in the image of Christ. And if you are of Christ, you are of the seed of Abraham and heirs to God's promise.

    Chapter Four

    Now when you are an heir, you have no entitlement until you are of age. Until that time, the lawyers and guardians have control over your inheritance. So before Christ, when we were still children, we were under the control of the law.

    But God released us from the law by coming to earth in the form of Jesus, who was born of a mortal woman and raised under the law of Moses. He came to pay the price for our sins, so we might be adopted as the children of God. As His children, we are entitled to the inheritance of the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts, and cries out to the Father on our behalf. You are the heir of the promise of God through Christ.

    When you did not know God or actually, when God did not know you, you were slaves to the idols and false teachers who kept you in darkness. But you know God now, and God knows you, and you know you are redeemed from sin. So why would you return to the ways of sin and slavery?

    God no longer requires sacrifices of animals and observations of certain days, or even circumcisions. If you need an example of how to live in the Holy Spirit, think of Jesus and how he lived in his ministry. Or if you need a mortal example, use me. You remember how ill I was when I came to you, but I was determined to bring you the news of Jesus, the news of salvation. And you received me as if I were an angel of God who appeared out of the sky. I remember it well. You would have given me your lives if I had asked for them. You loved me as I love you to this day.

    Have you suddenly turned against what you know is true? I know the Pharisees are pushing on you to convert to Judaism, claiming you have no right to the promise if you are a Gentile. Don't let them sell you their lies. Cling to the truth, even if I am not there with you.

    I almost feel like a woman who has to go through childbirth twice to deliver the same child. Don't you realize you have already been born again in Christ Jesus? I am so worried about you.

    Do you really want to be under the law of Moses? Don't you understand what that would mean?

    Remember, Abraham had two sons, one from Agar the servant and one from Sarah his wife, who was beyond child bearing years. While Moses wrote this story as history, God uses it as an allegory to tell you his plan. Think of Agar as Mt. Sinai in Arabia, while Sarah is Jerusalem, the mother of all Jews and the place where God made us build the temple. Once Arabia was under our rule, but now we are both under the rule of the Romans and all bound under their laws.

    It's the same with Jews and Gentiles, for we were once under two rulers. God told Abraham to cast Agar and Ishmael out into the wilderness, and they eventually built their own nations. We conquered those nations and made their pagan worship forbidden under Jewish law. But when the Romans came, we all became subject to the laws of Rome.

    Jesus has conquered sin and death, and we are all made brothers under His rule, for we are no longer people under bondage, but people under the loving hands of Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, Our God.

    Believe it or not, the first voice I heard in my head when I was interpreting these two chapters was Robin Williams saying, “Did you all just fall down and bump your little heads?”. Paul, like us, is human and gets frustrated just like the rest of us. He apparently spent a good deal of time in Galatia, just east of what we would call Greece these days, and was convinced the Galatians had listened carefully and accepted the good news of Christ. So you can imagine his frustration when he found out they were listening to the Pharisees.

    Here he is using Old Testament comparisons to jog their memories and tell them to hang in there and not give in to legalism, another name for Judaism. The Pharisees and the Sadducee of Jesus' time had perfected the art of deception even for their own people. They were living high on the hog at the expense of the people and had them convinced if they did not do as they were told their souls would be forfeit. Since they were the Levites, the ordained tribe to represent God back in the wilderness, the people had no choice but to listen. A few managed to climb out of the gutter and repent, but most of them at this point were trying to leverage Jesus' ministry as a way to regain control over the Jews.

    The last two chapters will tell you more about this, and I think you'll like the ending. Have them for you soon.

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