The Promise & The Law.
Why then was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. – Galatians 3:19 NLT
From the very beginning, God had intended for man to be made right with Him through single individual who would somehow satisfy His just and holy demands. God had made a promise to Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him. He had promised Abraham that his “seed” – singular – referring to a single individual, would be the source of this blessing. From the family tree of Abraham would come the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would bless the nations with His provision of salvation through faith in His sacrificial death on the cross. Paul makes it clear that this promise of the coming Messiah was given 430 years before the law was given at Mount Sinai. And the law did not replace the promise. “The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise” (Galatians 3:17 NLT). In other words, God would be changing the rules in mid-stream. Rather than God making a promise or covenant that was unilateral and unconditional, He would be placing impossible conditions on our ultimate salvation. But the covenant God made with Abraham did not include conditions. It was not dependent on Abraham’s actions or behavior. It was purely based on the faithfulness of God. So then why did God bother to give Moses and the people of Israel the law? Paul has made it clear that the law was never intended to save mankind, so what was its purpose? Again, Paul tells us, “It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins” (Galatians 3:19 NLT). He clarifies this thought in his letter to the Romans. “…it as the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, ‘You must not covet.’ But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of coveting desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power” (Romans 7:7-8 NLT). The law was given to make it clear what God’s holy and righteous requirements were. The law put in writing what God’s expectations of man were. And by revealing His expectations, it also revealed man’s limitations. It showed man just how impossible it was to live up to God’s standard. When men tried to obey the law, it actually resulted in more sin, rather than less. Knowledge of God’s demands revealed an inherent desire to break those demands. Our own sin natures rebelled against God’s law.
Basically, the law was intended to show us our desperate need for a Savior. Trying to obey the law showed men that they were incapable of saving themselves. The couldn’t live up to God’s standard, so God provided another way. He sent His own Son to live as a man and do what no other man had ever done: keep the law to perfection. Jesus became the fulfillment of the law. He was completely obedient to the law, resulting in a sinless, spotless life. He kept the law. He met the standard. He fulfilled the requirement. And therefore, satisfied the just and righteous demands of God. So Paul asks, “Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 3:21-22 NLT). For Paul, it always goes back to this one thought, this one truth. Man can’t save himself. Man can’t live the kind of life God requires on his own. He needs a Savior. The law shows us our desperate need for a Savior. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty of our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood” (Romans 3:23-25 NLT). God gave the promise before He gave the law. And God will fulfill the promise because His son fulfilled the law. We have nothing to add except our faith.
Father, I have no problem admitting or acknowledging my sinfulness. It is painfully clear to me. You have shown me my sin, but You have also revealed to me the solution. And it has nothing to do with my effort to stop sinning. It is solely based on the sacrificial death of Your Son in my place. You promised to bless all mankind and You have. You have provided a way to be made right with You and it has nothing to do with my ability to earn or deserve Your favor. It is all because of what Jesus Christ has done on my behalf. Thank You! Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men