Friday, 25 March 2016
Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” Galatians 3:12
Paul’s last words were that “no one is justified by the law in the sight of God.” The obvious question then would be, “How can one be justified in God’s sight?” The answer is that “the just shall live by faith.” In order to show that this is true, he reached into the writings under the law itself and cited Habakkuk 2:4. Now, building on that, he begins with “Yet…”
This is a contrast to what is proper then, and that contrast is that “the law is not of faith.” In order to demonstrate that this is also true, he returns again to the law and cites Leviticus 18:5. If a person needs to “do” something under the law in order to live by that law, then faith is excluded. Doing a deed demonstrates an attempt to be justified by that deed. Thus, faith is excluded. Faith implies that one is not trusting in one’s own deeds.
Further, in order to be justified by the law then, as long as the man lives he would need to continue to do the things of the law. At no time could he stop doing those things and be considered just. As Albert Barnes notes, the law “requires unwavering and perpetual obedience.” Faith is entirely excluded from this type of life.
In the previous verse, the stress was upon the word “faith.” Now it rests upon the word “does.” The two are mutually exclusive. One can either have faith in Christ’s work in order to please God, or one can do deeds of the law in order to please Him. Paul’s words are a petition for the Galatians to think through the avenue they have taken.
Will they now introduce the Law of Moses when they had already exercised faith? If so, then Christ’s work in fulfillment of the law is set aside. In doing this, then they would have to fulfill the law perfectly with that “unwavering and perpetual obedience” mentioned above. It is a self-condemning act.
Life application: Ephesians 1:13 & 14 says that you receive the Holy Spirit when you believe in the gospel message of Christ. Paul has now shown that continuing in that faith is how the just person shall life. He has also now shown that pursuing the law is not of faith. Stand fast on the grace of Christ and do not be suckered into believing that you must observe some or all of the tenets of the law in order to be pleasing to God. In so doing, you actually become displeasing to Him. You have forsaken the work of His Son and gone about seeking your own righteousness.
Heavenly Father, it is most wonderful to start each day knowing that You are there! In You there is hope; in You there is contentment; and in You I find rest. Even when the world beats me up and tries to rob my joy, I have a place of peace for my weary soul. Should I need it in the day ahead, I know that it is there – because You are ever with me. Thank You for Your presence in my life. Amen.