If you had to read the Bible and write a PD or job description for the Christian life what would it include? One of the things you would have to include, is at times you will be called on by God to do the work of a defense lawyer.
The Apostle Peter tells us this in 1 Peter 3:15, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
Every believer is to always be ready to give a defense for the hope they have. This hope is our salvation. The word defense is the Greek legal term apologia.
This legal term is seen many times in the New Testament, let me point out two.
First in Acts 25:16 when Festus is talking to King Agrippa about the Apostle
Paul, he said, ‘To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’
Paul was a Roman citizen which meant he had the right to give a verbal defense or answer concerning the charges that were brought against him. Paul was going to represent himself as his own defense lawyer.
Second Paul in Philippians 1:17 used this word in reference to the gospel when he said, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
Paul recognized that he was called to defend the gospel of grace against false teachers and teachings.
If you read Paul’s letters you will notice that Paul often defended the gospel of grace against those false teachers who taught that Gentiles must convert to Judaism and keep the law of Moses to be saved. We’ve seen this so far in the book of Galatians.
Paul’s defense against these teachers is to clearly explain the basis of salvation by faith alone and also teach believers the proper purpose and place of the law.
Tonight as the Holy Spirit brings us into the court room to show us Paul’s defense for the gospel of grace, we’ll learn two things.
- The purpose and place of the law in God’s redemptive plan.
- The position in Christ by faith alone.
First in verses 19-25 we learn the purpose and place of the law of Moses in God’s redemptive plan.
19a What purpose then does the law serve?
The focus of Paul up until this point in chapter 3 has been to focus on the promises given to Abraham in relation to the law of Moses.
The promises given to Abraham is also called the Abrahamic covenant which is given from Genesis chapters 12-22. God in these chapters made a number of unconditional promises to Abraham. Unconditional means, that it was not based on Abraham’s obedience to fulfill them, but God alone. This is illustrated in Genesis 15; in the covenant ceremony.
Theologians have divided these promises of God into three major categories which are; land, seed and blessing. These three aspects of God’s Covenant with Abraham are later expanded into the three unconditional Jewish covenants.
They are; the land promise which is seen in the Palestinian or land covenant (Deuteronomy 29-30), the seed promise, seen in the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-14) and the blessing promise, which is seen in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Paul in this chapter specifically talks about the blessing aspect of God’s covenant with Abraham because it relates to His defense that through Christ both Jew and Gentile are saved by grace through faith alone just like Abraham.
We see this in Galatians 3:8 when Paul said, And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”
God in giving this promise to Abraham gave a prophecy that through Christ, Gentiles apart from the law, since this promise was given before the could enjoy the blessing of Abraham by faith apart from the law.
I point these things out because it gives us the back ground to Paul’s question. Paul in this verse anticipates the question from the Judiazers who would ask, if Jews and Gentiles were promised salvation by faith alone, then why did God give the law?
As we will see Paul in answer this first of two questions gives a good concise answer for both the purpose and place of the law.
19b It was added because of transgressions…
First the law was given because of transgressions. The law was a means of showing man their sins. Sin existed before the law, transgressions came with the law because a transgression is a violation of a known law. The law revealed to a person where they were sinning against God.
This revelation of sin also served as a restrainer of sin for the nation of Israel. Israel knew that a violation of God’s law brought judgment. This was one of God’s means to rule the nation of Israel as a theocracy and protect them from becoming like the Other nations of the world..
19c. till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;
The word till is a word that indicates a temporary period of time. The law was never established to be an eternal covenant. The law was a temporary institution in the working out of God’s plan off redemption. The law was added and commanded to be followed until to be temporarily until Christ the Seed of Abraham would come and fulfill the blessing promise made to him.
Often people who seek to teach that it is still a requirement for Christians to keep the law point to Jesus teaching on the sermon on the mount.
Jesus in Matthew 5:17-19,
17“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus was very clear in these verses that He did not come to change the written law of God. Rather than seek to change it Jesus came to fulfill it and until Jesus fulfilled the law, not one jot or tittle would pass away.
How would Jesus fulfill the law? It was not with His coming to earth, but with His death on the cross. Until He fulfill the law in the cross He and His disciples did and were commanded to keep the law.
Once Christ fulfilled the law on the cross those who believe in Christ are no
longer under the law. Paul in Romans 10:4 says, For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
The fact that Christ fulfilled the law also affects how man relates to God and the covenants He made with Israel.
For example Paul in Ephesians 2:11-15,
11Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
The law separated Gentiles from receiving the promises of Abraham as Gentiles. Under the law in order for Gentiles to experience the blessing of Abraham they has to convert to Judaism. But through the death and resurrection of Christ He has made it possible for Gentiles to be saved by Gentiles by faith alone. Christ also tore down the wall of enmity that the law created between Jew and Gentile.
We’re given some more insight into the nature of the law at the end of verse 19-20.
19d and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
The law were told in this verse was a covenant. The law was an agreement between God and Israel. This covenant began when Israel left Egypt and came to Mount Sinai. It was there at this mountain that God promised Israel that if they obeyed His law, then they would be His own special people and a royal priesthood.
Paul in this verse contrasts the covenant that God made with Israel and the one God gave to Abraham. Notice three things that made this covenant of Moses inferior.
First as we just learned that law was temporary, while the covenant made with Abraham was eternal. Second the way the covenant with made was inferior. Paul says that God delivered the law to Moses through angels. But verse 20 in talking about the covenant that God made with Abraham says there was no mediator, the promises were made directly. Third the covenant that God made with Moses and Israel was conditioned on obedience, if Israel obeyed they would be blessed, if they disobeyed they would be judged. The covenant that God made to Abraham was unconditional, it was based on God and Him alone to fulfill His promises.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.
The law was not given as an addition to the promise that God gave Abraham, nor did the law contradict this promise. Paul says God forbid. God can’t contradict Himself!
The reason why the law does not add to or contradict to the promise made to Abraham was the law was never given as a means of salvation. The law could not give life. The law was never given to make a person righteous, because the law could never make a person righteous.
The law law was given rather as an absolute standard of life and morality. It was by which a person who was righteous by faith in God was to walk.
22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
While law could not save anyone, it does show man that he needs to be saved. The law confines all the world under sin. The reason is the person who breaks one of God’s laws is guilty of them all and is under the curse of God’s law. The only person that could save man is Jesus Christ.
This is seen in the classic illustration of Joshua and Moses. Moses could only lead Israel to the promise land, it was Joshua which is the Hebrew name for Jesus that was the one to lead them in. In the same way, the law can show you are a sinner, but it is Christ alone that can give salvation.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.
The law kept man in confinement, until Jesus would come and free man from their sin and the law.
24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
The law before Christ was like a tutor. This is not a school teacher, but a slave who had the responsibility to be the disciplinarian of the children. The children would be under this tutor until they were of a mature age. In the same way, God established the law to keep man, but now that Christ has come and fulfilled the law, man is not under law but under grace.
Before we move on let me point out two application.
First when God keeps His promises. Second when God speaks as works in our lives they are for a reason.
Now we come to our second point in verses 26-29 we see our position in Christ by faith alone.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
The previous verses have been legal, now in talking to the believers Paul get’s personal. In these verses we leave the courtroom take off the tie and go home to our family.
Paul reminds us of the blessings that we have through Christ and the promises made through Abraham.
First you and I are sons and daughter of God through faith. Second through our faith we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. When God looks at us He sees us as a son or daughter.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The law brought distinctions, but grace reveals that all are equal in the eyes of God. No one has a higher standing with God than another. We are all sinners saved by grace. While all are equal in Christ God does still have roles for men and women and a distinct plan for ethnic Israel.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
God made the promise of blessing to Abraham that through Christ His seed all the earth would be blessed. God fulfilled that promise. Since we are Christ’s we inherit this blessing of Abraham. This does not mean we take the place of ethnic Israel, or that we are now spiritual Jews.
What Paul is saying is you and I are no longer excluded because we are Gentiles as we were through the law. Because the law has been fulfilled we have been blessed with the blessings of Abraham.
In closing, God wants to use us to defend our faith, let’s be bold and allow the Holy Spirit to use us to give to every man an answer of the hope that is within us.