Monday, 4 April 2016
But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Galatians 3:22
Paul just stated that “if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.” However, such is not the case. This is indicated by the word alla, or “but.” The law cannot grant life (meaning righteousness) which is proved by “the Scripture.” Here Paul stands on the absolute authority of Scripture itself. He could not make his arguments concerning the reliability of Scripture, if it wasn’t 100% reliable.
However, as if almost personifying it, because it is the expressed word of God, he notes that the Scripture itself “has confined all under sin.” The word “confined” is appropriate. It comes from the Greek word sugkleió which gives the sense of “shutting up” something. It is as if a sentence of guilt from the law is passed on to all, imprisoning them through the sin which proceeds from the issuing of the law. In other words, it is the same argument that he made in Romans 7:9-12. There he said –
“But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” Romans 7:8, 9
The law can only bring death, and the law can only bring a sentence of guilt. This is true for “all,” meaning every person without exception. The word in Greek is in the neuter gender signifying that it is all-encompassing. Male and female, Jew and Gentile, young and old, etc. are included. The intent then is that “all humanity” is confined under sin.
Thus, another purpose for the law is revealed. It is so “that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” This brings us back the promise of the Seed mentioned in verse 19. Jesus Christ is that Seed. Now, by faith in Him, and in Him alone, the confining restraint of sin is removed.
The contrasts are clear – where there was confinement in the law, there is freedom in Christ. Where the law brought bondage, faith brings freedom. In the law there is death, but in Christ there is life. The two wholly contrast one another. Only in Christ are the promises realized. In the law, there can never be relief from the chains of sin which bind our souls.
Life application: Even those who have received Christ can be duped into believing that doing the things of the law can make one “more pleasing” to God. “Yes, I trust in Christ, but I have given up pork because it will make God happy.” This is a trap. If one gives up pork because it makes them break out in hives, that makes sense; but if one gives up pork because it will “make God happy,” then it is implying that God is “happier” with what you are doing than what His Son did. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. One cannot make God more pleased than to accept what Jesus did – in its entirety.
Lord God, now that I have received Christ – who is the end of the law for all who believe – will you be happier with me if I observe the Sabbath? Will you be happier with me if I give up pork? Will you be happier with me if I do anything from the law that only pointed to Christ? If so, then what I do makes you “happier” than what Jesus did. As I know that this isn’t possible, then I will make you happiest of all by simply trusting what He did and resting in that! I place my complete faith in His finished work, plus nothing. Amen.