Monday, 28 March 2016
Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Galatians 3:15
Paul now wisely proclaims a truth which was understood among humanity in general. When a covenant was made, it became a binding agreement between parties. One party could not arbitrarily add to it, detract portions of it, or call it void. Once it was in effect, it stood as a permanent and unchangeable agreement concerning what had transpired.
In the case of the covenant that was made with Abraham, the Lord’s words implied that they were speaking of the coming Messiah. The terminology could mean nothing else. Four hundred and thirty years later, the Law of Moses was brought into the picture as Israel agreed to its terms at the foot of Sinai.
However, what came about in that law could in no way be added to, or annul, what transpired between the Lord and Abraham. In fact, the law was based on works whereas the promise granted righteousness by faith. Works and faith are mutually exclusive principles. Therefore, both in the fact that the covenant with Abraham preceded the law, and the fact that these agreements were based on conflicting tenets, the law could in no way be an avenue to a declaration of righteousness.
Understanding this, he says, “Brethren.” The word is given to highlight the fact that they, Gentiles in the flesh, were brethren to him, a Jew who was born and raised under the law. “I speak in the manner of men” is given in accordance with the example mentioned above which was the universally understood nature of covenants.
Concerning such a covenant, he says, “Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.” If this is true with a covenant between men, how much more certain is such a covenant when made by the Lord! Further, after declaring Abraham righteous by faith alone, the covenant which was made with him was one-sided. Only the Lord passed through the divided animals. The entire passage shows that what was promised and the covenant that was cut was based solely on the faith of Abraham and the unchangeable nature of God, who cannot lie.
Life application: The law cannot nullify what was already in effect concerning the promise to Abraham. Therefore, the law was given for a different purpose. When it had served its usefulness, it was set aside in the giving of the New Covenant, a covenant based on grace. If you are under grace, then you cannot be under the law. The two are mutually exclusive.
I was under bondage to a harsh taskmaster, one who controlled my very soul. There was no hope of me ever finding a way of escape. But Lord, You stepped into my life and broke away the chains which bound me. You led me out of Egypt and through the sea of death and into new life. For the grace and mercy You have shown, I commit myself to You. Use me according to Your wisdom, O God. Thank You for the freedom I have in Christ. Amen.