Learning to walk in freedom, Part 7: Galatians 3:15-19a
Today we talk about two things where most people really mess up: covenants & morality. God‘s solution is always unique and edifying.
Galatians 3 Verse 3:15
Dear brothers and sisters, here’s an example in human terms. Just as no one can set aside or amend an accepted contract, so it is in this case.
It is always good to get these truths into everyday experience. We need to look at our laws to see how they fare when compared with earlier covenants. Paul is saying that if our agreements under the law are binding, how much more are spiritual covenants with God irrevocable?
God made promises both to Abraham and to his seed. God did not say, “and to your seeds.” That would mean many people. But God said, “and to your seed.” That means only one person; that person is Jesus, our Messiah.
The singular/plural thing is not in commentaries. We have to take Paul’s word for it that this is in the Law. The reference is to Genesis 22:18—maybe. But all the modern translations use descendants, plural, for that verse. KJV and the older translations use seed which can be either. The lexicons say the word can be either singular or plural. That this is an unspoken area of confusion is shown in the fact that none of my study bibles have a Genesis cross-reference. We have faith that Paul’s writings are scripture, so we accept his statement as truth. We must accept that in this instance, God’s covenant with Abraham applies directly to Jesus.
This does not nullify the other interpretation that Israel is God’s people—called to be His people. So, all the promises apply to them also.
This is what I mean: God had a covenant with Abraham and promised to keep it. Four hundred thirty years later, the law could not change that agreement and make God’s promise to Abraham null and void.
What is a covenant?
How are we supposed to relate to these agreements between man and God? Does God take them seriously? How does James 5:12 relate to this?
But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned. [NLT]
Oaths or covenants are to be taken seriously. In that day covenants were sacred and could not be changed. The same is true legally today. You are not allowed to change your responsibilities in a contract—even if you made a mistake and what you promised will hurt you. External circumstances do not ever change a contract—unless provision for that was written in when the contract was made. God’s promises were not conditional. He made promises and His holy character means He will keep them completely.
His covenants with Israel are still in effect, and God not only honors them, but He zealously protects the people with whom He made the covenant. While it is true that our covenant is better—it is in addition to the original Abrahamic covenant. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”
For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of God’s promise. But God graciously promised it to Abraham.
You cannot and do not need to earn a promise once it is made. God promised so we can rely on it. He has done it. All we need to do is accept that by faith to receive the blessings associated with it.
Is our acceptance of the original covenants necessary? Yes. Otherwise they are not in effect in our lives.
Why was the law given? It was in addition to the promise so people could see their sin. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the promised seed.
This idea that the Law is an add-on to show us our sin is a major revelation from Paul. The Law is not seen as the way to live a good life. It is to show us that we cannot live a sin-free life through our own efforts or strength.
Can morality be legislated?
This is the modern version of this dilemma. Passing a law never stopped drug use, speeding, or anything like that.
Is there error in this statement: God gave up on the law 2000 years ago? I don’t this is true either. What the Father provided is payment for the penalty of the Law in Jesus. To avoid the penalty and to receive the earlier covenants, we need to believe Jesus is the Son of God, came in the flesh, died for our sin to redeem us from the penalty of the Law, and lives to lead us in acceptance of the original covenant.
So we can receive the blessings promised to those who believe.
Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord?
If not, why not?
He is coming soon.
Are you ready?
You won’t have time when He comes.
Do not be like the foolish virgins. Turn to Him now!
- Learning to Walk in Freedom: Part 1 Galatians 1:1-10 (bergsland.org)
- Learning to Walk in Freedom: Part Two Galatians 1:11-24 (bergsland.org
- Learning to walk in freedom: Part 3 Galatians 2: 1-14 (bergsland.org)
- Learning to walk in freedom: Part 4 Galatians 2:15-21 (bergsland.org)
- Learning to walk in freedom, Part 5: Galatians 3:1- (bergsland.org)
- Learning to walk in Freedom: Part 6 Galatians 3:10-14 (bergsland.org)