In the last verse of Galatians chapter 2, The Apostle Paul wrote; "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for, if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain."
If a man could be saved by obeying the Law and could attain righteousness on his own merits through keeping the Law, then there was no need for Jesus to die on the cross!
The natural man canít please God. Romans 8:8-9: ďSo then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9: But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.Ē It was necessary for Jesus to take a human body and in that body do for man what man could never have done for himself.
The believer is not transformed into the image of Christ by the works of the Law, but by the Holy Spirit abiding within us.
Galatians 3:1: "0 foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?"
Many of the Galatian believers had strayed from the truth of salvation by faith alone and had followed some of the practices of the Law of Moses to enhance their salvation. This is not what Paul had preached to them. Paul preached the Gospel of the grace of God that is in Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. This upset Paul and he set about to correct this condition. He would take no credit for their salvation but he would glory in the fact that God had saved them. Galatians 6:14; "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Verse 2: "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?" He wanted them to prove to themselves where their salvation came from.
The believer receives the gift of the Holy Spirit when he is saved. When one is born again, the Holy Spirit immediately enters the heart. The believers at Galatia had experience this and Paul is asking them how it came about. Had the blessing they received come through doing the works of the Law, or by hearing and believing the Gospel of the grace of God? If it came by faith in Jesus, why were they trying to fulfill the Law of Moses? Paul had taught them that no person can be saved by the works of the Law, that salvation is by faith alone.
Verses 3 and 4: "Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain."
There are tens of thousands of people around the world today who were saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, by putting their faith in the finished work of the Lamb of God. But there are millions more who try to make themselves perfect in the flesh through the practice of religious rules and regulations laid down by churches and denominations, but sooner or later they will learn to their regret that the flesh has no redeeming power.
God gave up on the flesh in the Garden but He also provided a way of redemption for the spirit. He said to Adam, "Dust thou art to dust thou shalt return." Later, Isaiah wrote, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags!Ē Isaiah 64:6b.
Regardless of how much good the sinner may try to do, or how much money we give, or how perfect we become in your own sight, it all adds up to being no better than filthy rags in the sight of God. Only by simple faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ can you become pure before God.
In other words, regardless of what I am, what I do, what I live or what I give, if I donít have the Lord Jesus Christ in my heart, then all of my living and giving adds up to one giant bundle of filthy rags.
But, by faith in Christ and His finished work, Iím a son of God. I now am in Christ and I presently sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. I am dead to this world, and my life is hid with Christ in God. I am justified by faith in His finished work, and to be justified in the sight of God is to be just as though I had never sinned. When God looks at me, (and He does, 24/7), He sees the blood of Jesus that covers me. He no longer sees a poor, helpless sinner, He sees me redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb of God. Isaiah describes how God sees the believer in Isaiah 1:18: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Verse 5: "He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?"
The Spirit is the One who works miracles and who has the power to do the impossible, itís not by the Law, or works, or man attempting to keep the Law. Miracles are wrought by faith, not by works. Romans 10:17: "So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" Jesus said, in Mark 11:22: "Have faith in God."
Verses 6-9: "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."
Paul declared that Abraham was saved exactly as we are. The Jews honored Abraham very highly and certainly they knew Abraham lived long before the Law of Moses was given. Paul is pointing out the fact that Abraham was justified before God by faith. God spoke to Abraham, he heard and he believed, and God counted it to him as righteousness.
Abrahamís first recorded experience with God is worth looking at. Genesis 12:1-3. "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
Abraham was an idol worshiper when God called him. God told him to forsake his present life style and environment and go where He directed him. He listened to God, he didnít see God, but he believed God. Notice Godís four "I will's."
1. "I will show thee a land."
2. "I will make thee great nation."
3. "I will bless thee and make your name great."
4. "I will bless them that bless thee."
Those are powerful promises to be given to one old man and his wife who were childless.
God honors faith, and faith alone, and spiritual blessings come only through God by faith.
Verse 4 tells us what Abraham did after he heard the message of God: "So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken unto him.Ē Abraham did exactly what the Lord God told him to do, exactly how the Lord told him to do it. He didnít add to the Lord's message nor take anything from it.
Paul asked the Galatians "How was Abraham saved? Was he saved by the Law? Did he keep his salvation by keeping the Law?Ē Of course not, Abraham lived four hundred years before the Law was given! "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."
Paul said Abraham believed God. He didnít say "Abraham believed about God," or that he "believed in God." "Abraham believed God!" Thereís a lot of difference in "believing about God" and "believing God." James 2:19 tells us, "Even the devils believe, and tremble." A man may believe there is a God, but unless he believes God, he is just as lost as the person who has never heard about God.
God spoke to Abraham and simply commanded him to saddle his camel and leave his idols and his country and his father's house. He promised Abraham, an old man with no children, that He would make of him a great nation and He would bless everyone who blessed him and curse everyone who cursed him. Abraham believed Him so he obeyed Him. The only guarantee he had was those promises from an unseen God.
God even promised Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him. Even though he and his wife, from the standpoint of physical reproduction, were both dead, God miraculously and supernaturally gave them a son.
It was true in Abrahamís day and itís still true today. All the blessings we receive from God, salvation, justification, redemption, and any other blessing we receive has to become ours through believing God.
Any person who will believe God concerning Jesus Christ will have the witness of God in his heart; but any person who hears the Gospel story of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and refuses to believe it, makes God a liar. There are no ifs, ands or maybes.
God has provided no other way because no other way could be provided. It had to be through the shed blood of Jesus.
If He hadnít died for OUR sins, we would all die and burn in hell! Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the straight gate, He is the one door, He is the author and the finisher of our faith. Jesus IS our salvation.
Verse 10: "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them."
If the sinner could be justified by works, he would have to obey the whole Law perfectly, in every detail, and for all of his life. James 2:10: ďFor whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.Ē Salvation through this method would be utterly impossible. How could imperfect man keep God's perfect Law without breaking one jot or one tittle of the Law?
Unless we are saved by God's grace through faith plus nothing, then face it, there is no salvation for us! Salvation must be of the Lord, entirely apart from man. Everything that man has ever touched, he has corrupted. God is not the author of corruption, God is holy, and all of His works are holy. "Without holiness no man shall see God."
Verse 11: ďBut that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.Ē
I believe that God, at times, inserts certain things in the Scriptures more than once for a reason and the last part of that verse is recorded in God's Word four times:
1. "The just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4).
2. "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17).
3. "The just shall live by faith" (Galatians 3:11).
4. "Now the just shall live by faith" (Hebrews 10:38).
Habakkuk states that the man who humbles himself before God, who trusts in God, is blessed by God. In spite of anything that might happen to the believer in this world, the man who trusts in God lives through it all in peace!
The recipient of God's marvelous grace stands before God as if he had never committed any evil, as if he had always accomplished all the good God could expect from him.
Face it: God's grace brings God's holiness to the sinner, because it was the blood of God that flowed through the veins of Jesus. God purchased the church with His own blood.
Paul wrote to the Roman believers: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." Romans 1:16-17.
The meaning of the statement "from faith to faith" is not from one degree of faith to another. Paul is pointing out the fact that the righteousness of God is revealed when God blesses the believer on the principle of faith. God offers justification to the unbeliever on the ground of faith, not on the ground of works, and itís by this faith that we are saved. Weíre justified by faith, and "the justified" shall live on the principle of faith, that is, by faith, in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. According to the Word of God we are saved by faith, we are kept by faith, we are rewarded according to our faith, and every blessing we receive from God must be accepted by faith.
Every work performed that will bring reward at the end of life's journey must be a work of faith. Romans 14:23b "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
Verse 12: "And the Law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them." Paul quotes here from Leviticus 18:5. What he is saying is this: If we seek salvation by keeping the Law, then, of necessity, we have to do all that the Law requires and God accepts nothing less than perfection. Itís absolutely impossible for any finite person to keep the holy Law of an infinite God. The Law was not given to save anyone. The Law is a schoolmaster; it teaches us what sin is and that we are guilty sinners.
Scripture tells us that by the Law is the knowledge of sin and that by the deeds of the Law there shall be no flesh justified. A sinner canít perfectly obey the Law of God. The Gospel doesnít say "DO and live." It says "BELIEVE and live!" Once we are born again, we can work, we can do, we can live, we can sacrifice, but we do these things because we love Jesus, not to merit His love or His mercy. We serve Him because of the appreciation in our hearts for our salvation from eternal hell that He so graciously provided and so freely gives when we believe on His precious name.
God help us not to be so foolish as to think we can please God in the flesh. Only Christ ever heard God say, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!" God the Father spoke these words about the Lord Jesus when He was baptized, and again on the Mount of Transfiguration.
The only way you and I can please God the Father is to believe on His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we are "accepted in the Beloved," our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, weíre placed in the body of Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 12:12-13: ďFor as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13: For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
The believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30: ďAnd grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
Weíre led by the Holy Spirit into the paths of right living. Romans 8:14: ďFor as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.Ē
If you want to "be in that number when the saints go marching in," itís absolutely necessary that you recognize the fact that you are hopelessly lost and beyond redemption so far as your own effort and merit is concerned. You have to admit to yourself, and to God, that you are dead in trespasses and sin, and that you want to receive the gift of God by faith in Jesus Christ. "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" John 1:12-13.