Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Law in Galations

       This time we come face to face with the question we began with - is the law of Moses part of Christian justification and  sanctification? Paul here claims more than knowledge and experience. He claims apostleship at the hand of God Himself.  Some refuse the teaching of Paul, but to do so is to deny the very teaching of Christ, who said His apostles would complete the revelation of truth by the Holy Spirit ( John 16 ).

       Chapter 1 &2   His doctrine from the risen Lord was confirmed by the apostles in Jerusalem.
       Chapter 2 Justification before God is only through faith in Jesus Christ.
        Chapter 3  Justification by faith dates back to Abraham.
                          A broken law invokes a curse, but in the death of Christ, the curse is carried away .
                     3.19  The law was added to show sin to be exceeding sinful i.e.  the offence to God's holiness and the costliness of sacrifices for sin.

            A contrast develops which I have not developed before. It is the contrast between the promise of God and the law.  The law is described as the schoolmaster or guardian to bring us to Christ, but the earlier  promises given to Abraham as well as to Adam link our hope, not in law keeping, but in a promise keeping God.We remember the Lord's words in John 8 "Abraham rejoiced to see my day" - Abraham by God's promises anticipated the day of Christ arriving.   Moses likewise said "A prophet will the Lord raise up" - and so the law giver anticipated the arrival of Christ. The law was not an end in itself, but a signpost to the day of greater things in a greater person, the Son of God.

          Chapter 4 - The surpassing value of 'relationship' over the binding observance of law. Law keeping leads to bondage, the promises of God lead to freedom as children of God.
           Chapter 5 -Freedom is not freedom for the flesh, but under the control of the Holy Spirit, a very positive outcome is listed as fruit  - not goals or standards to rise to, but  fruit from an  ungrieved and unquenched Holy Spirit.
          The character of flesh is exposed and we must renounce it (repentance). The believer has new life by the spirit and is sanctified by walking in the spirit.
              Chapter 6 Paul introduces the "Law of Christ"(see previous blog)

               Keeping the law of Moses tends to either despair from failure, or conceited pride from judging others.   The cross of Christ cures both.

 Does Ephesians address the subject of commandments - well I was wondering until I reached chapter 2 verse 15 "by abolishing the law of commandments contained in ordinances"  What does this mean?  yes the law of Moses did invoke the partitioning of  the Israelites and Gentiles ( remembering that it also included the gracious care for strangers to find shelter beneath the wings of Jehovah).
       In the days of our Lord, the exclusivity of Jewish practice was extreme e.g. not to eat with anyone from another nation (Acts 11). The temple was built with a strata of courts i.e. priest's court, men's, women's, Gentile's court. Now Paul is teaching that this strata is abolished in Christ. (This was perhaps the greatest reason the Jews hated Paul - Acts 20-24).    How did Christ abolish this ordinance? - by drawing all people to Himself by grace alone. His blood alone gives us approach to God. His cross and our death with Him brings us all to the same level  - guilty but accepted !

        And our sanctification ?   " we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works" !!  ours is to know it, believe it and let God have His way in everything.
        Paul in this letter describes life that belongs to darkness and Satan, in contrast to the life that belongs to light and Christ.  He emphasises a new community apart from Israel, for whom the law was a cohesive part. The new organism comprising all believers in Christ, is called the church, the body of Christ. This is something very  different to that established by the law of Moses. This is the great assembly of all Christians, build by Christ Himself (Matthew 16).
           Paul concludes this letter - "grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus with love incorruptible"

Grace be with all who read this meditation.      j. McKee

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