Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 47:1
Read the “1208 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “The Schoolmaster“
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)
The letter to the Galatians was one of the earliest of the epistles written by the Apostle Paul through the inspiration of the God. In the very early church, there was evidently a problem with legalism. Legalism is the attempt to put people who are saved by faith back under the law. I need to explain here exactly what I mean by “under the law”. In Old Testament days the people of God (the Jews) lived according to the law of Moses which contained three different types of laws: civil law (government), which helped them live in a peaceful society; moral law, which taught them what was right and wrong, morally speaking; and ceremonial law, which were the particular laws that had to do with their system of worship. These ceremonial laws legislated their holy days, their assemblies, and their feasts, etc. The Jews created a system of rules that was impossible for anybody to keep perfectly. That’s why Paul says later in this letter to the Galatians that the law was our “schoolmaster”, in that it taught us that we were sinners in need of mercy. Christ is the only man who perfectly fulfilled all of the law, meaning He never was guilty of violating any command of God in any of the three categories.
Now when God says in the New Testament that we are no longer “under the law”, and that we have been freed from the bondage of the law, He is not saying that we are free to commit moral sin, or that we are free to break the laws that government creates in order to keep the peace, unless, of course, those man-made rules disagree with God’s rules. We are, however, free from all of the ceremonial laws that the Jews lived by, and there were a whole lot of them. By the way, not being “under the law” also means that we have been freed (saved) from the penalty of not keeping the law. The people of Galatia were “bewitched” into attempting to combine the doctrine of salvation through faith alone with the keeping of the Jewish law. By doing so, they just frustrated the concept of grace. Christ fulfilled the law, and He died for us who could not keep the law. We are free! Free from the penalty of sin; free from the bondage of a myriad of rules and regulations that are impossible to live by anyway; and free to love and serve God according to the dictates of our own consciences and understanding of God.
I feel compelled to make one final comment here. The term “legalism” has often been used in reference to standards and convictions. I am not a “legalist” if I have a personal standard in my life that I believe God is pleased with. Having some Biblically based guidelines in my life to live by does not make me a legalist, unless I believe that adhering to these rules somehow saves me. I am not saved by how I live my life, but I do try to live a life that glorifies God because I am saved.
Posted in Thoughts From Galatians by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.