Christ and the Law 2

Galatians 3: 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. 19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Justification is said to be justification by faith alone, though it really means justification by Christ alone and justification by grace alone through faith alone. Abraham believed the promise of God concerning the seed (which was Christ) and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Abraham, then, was declared righteous in the eyes of God before the Law was ever given. We see that Abraham was a descendant of Eve and as such the seed of the woman can be traced to him. The seed of the woman would come through the seed of Abraham and in fact would be the Christ. But again, no Law was given until 430 years after Abraham.

Romans 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works.

Clearly, then, Abraham was not justified before God by keeping the Law or by any work. It was when Abraham had faith in the coming seed which was Christ, he was declared just and he had righteousness imputed to him. Once again, over and over our hearts must hear that Abraham was justified and was declared righteous before there was any written law for him to keep. If Abraham would have been justified by works or even had a few works that assisted God in justifying him, then he would have had something to boast about. But Abraham had nothing to boast in but free-grace and the free-grace that the coming seed would purchase in his place.

Abraham did not work for righteousness because the text just above tells us that the one who works his wage is not by grace of favor, but it is what is due to the person. On the other hand, the person that does not work for salvation/justification but believes in God who justifies the ungodly, that person’s faith (in Christ) is credited as righteousness (because the person is united to Christ). There is no need for works for justification because the person is perfectly justified by Christ. Abraham was a blessed man because God credited righteousness to Abraham apart from works. Abraham was justified by Christ before there was a law for him to keep. This is a point we need to hear over and over.

Abraham was justified by grace alone through faith alone and that occurred 430 years before the Law was given. Justification was always by grace alone through faith and this is emphasized in the New Testament over and over. The Law was never given as a way of justification and not as a way of sanctification. The Law was added because of transgressions, that is, it was given to show us our sinfulness and open our hearts to how sinful and helpless we are. The Law was not given as a way we can have life, but to show us Christ who is to be our life. The Law does not justify us, but Christ justifies us. The Law does not sanctify us, but Christ is our sanctification. The Law has no power at all, but all power is in the hands of God to do as He pleases.

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