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Faith Brings Freedom

What has happened to you foolish Galatians? Who has put you under an evil spell?[a] Did God not open your eyes to see the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion? Was he not revealed to you as the crucified one?[b]

So answer me this: Did the Holy Spirit come to you as a reward for keeping Jewish laws? No, you received him as a gift because you believed in the Messiah. Your new life began when the Holy Spirit gave you a new birth. Why then would you so foolishly turn from living in the Spirit by trying to finish by your own works?[c]

Have you endured so many trials and persecutions for nothing?

Let me ask you again: What does the lavish supply of the Holy Spirit in your life and the miracles of God’s tremendous power have to do with you keeping religious laws? The Holy Spirit is poured out upon us through the revelation and power of faith!

Abraham, our father of faith, believed God, and the substance of his faith released God’s righteousness to him.[d] So the true children of Abraham have the same faith as their father! And the Scripture prophesied that on the basis of faith God would declare gentiles to be righteous. God announced the good news ahead of time to Abraham:

“Through your example of faith, all the nations will be blessed!”[e]

And so the blessing of Abraham’s faith is now our blessing too! 10 But if you rely on works of keeping the law for salvation, you live under the law’s curse. For it is clearly written:

“Utterly cursed is everyone who fails to practice every detail and requirement that is written in this law!”[f]

11 It is obvious that no one achieves the righteousness of God by attempting to keep the law, for it is written:

“The one who is in a right relationship with God will live by faith!”[g]

12 But keeping the law does not require faith, but self-effort. For the law teaches,

“If you practice the principles of law, you must follow all of them.”[h]

13 Yet, Christ paid the full price to set us free from the curse of the law. He absorbed the curse completely as he became a curse in our place. For it is written:

“Everyone who is hung upon a tree is cursed.”[i]

14 Jesus Christ dissolved the curse from our lives, so that in him all the blessings of Abraham can be poured out upon gentiles. And now through faith we receive the promised Holy Spirit who lives in us.

The Law versus God’s Promises

15 Beloved friends, let me use an illustration that we can all understand. Technically, when a contract is signed, it can’t be changed after it has been put into effect; it’s too late to alter the agreement.[j]

16 Remember the royal proclamation[k] God spoke over Abraham and to Abraham’s child? God said that his promises were made to pass on to Abraham’s “Child,”[l] not children. And who is this “Child?” It’s the Son of promise, Christ himself!

17–18 This means that the covenant between God and Abraham was fulfilled in Messiah and cannot be altered. Yet the written law was not even given to Moses until 430 years after God had “signed” his contract with Abraham! The law, then, doesn’t supersede the promise[m] since the royal proclamation was given before the law.[n]

If that were the case, it would have nullified what God said to Abraham. We receive all the promises because of the Promised One—not because we keep the law!

19 Why then was the law given at all? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the “Seed,” the child who was promised. When God gave the law, he gave it first to angels; they gave it to Moses, his mediator, who then gave it to the people. 20 Now, a mediator does not represent just one party alone, but God fulfilled it all by himself![o]

21 Since that’s true, should we consider the written law to be contrary to the promise of new life? How absurd![p] Truly, if there was a law that we could keep which would give us new life, then our salvation would have come by law-keeping. 22 But the Scriptures make it clear that the whole world is imprisoned by sin! This was so the promise would be given through faith to people who believe in Jesus Christ.

God’s Sons Inherit the Promises

23 So until the revelation of faith for salvation was released, the law was a jailer, holding us as prisoners under lock and key until the “faith,” which was destined to be revealed, would set us free. 24 The law was our guardian until Christ came so that we would be saved by faith. 25 But now that faith has come[q] we are no longer under the guardian of the law.

26 You have all become true children of God by faith in Jesus Christ! 27 Faith immersed you into Christ, and now you are covered and clothed with his life. 28 And we no longer see each other in our former state—Jew or non-Jew, rich or poor,[r] male or female—because we’re all one through our union with Jesus Christ.

29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are now Abraham’s “child” and a true heir of all his blessings because of the promise God made to Abraham!

Footnotes

  1. 3:1 The Greek word used here means “to cast a spell using the evil eye.” Paul uses a pun here in the Greek text. He goes on to say, “Didn’t God open your eyes?”
  2. 3:1 The great revelation of the cross had been supernaturally given to them; but they were diluting the glorious work of the cross by adding to it the works of religion.
  3. 3:3 As translated from the Aramaic.
  4. 3:6 See Gen. 15:6.
  5. 3:8 See Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18.
  6. 3:10 See Deut. 27:26.
  7. 3:11 See Hab. 2:4.
  8. 3:12 See Lev. 18:5.
  9. 3:13 See Deut. 21:23.
  10. 3:15 The most ancient Aramaic manuscript has a different meaning for this verse. It could also be translated, “The covenant of the Son of Man that I reference should never be denigrated or changed in any way by men.”
  11. 3:16 As translated literally from the Greek. It can also mean “covenant.”
  12. 3:16 Or “seed.”
  13. 3:17–18 The concept of the “promise” is that all we need is faith to believe it. This is the revelation of grace that saves us, for the “promise” is enough.
  14. 3:17–18 This last sentence is the implied conclusion of Paul’s logic.
  15. 3:20 Or “but God is one.”
  16. 3:21 The law and the promise (grace) each have a distinct function. The law brings conviction of sin, which unveils grace as the way to salvation. The law moves us, even compels us, to reach for grace. And grace will cause one to soar even higher than the demands of the law.
  17. 3:25 Or “But now that Faith has come,” a title for the Lord Jesus (Faith).
  18. 3:28 Or “enslaved or free.”