"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Friday, August 4, 2023

The G.E.P.C Study – GALATIANS 3: Part ONE

Going Through Paul’s epistles to Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossi

INTRODUCTION: Now with the conclusion of Ch. 2, the apostle has completed his defense in regards to his apostleship, and while he has touched on the issue of faith vs. the Law up until this point, here in Ch. 3 and beyond, Paul begins to methodically examine, dissect, and properly divide Scripture to prove his points, namely that salvation is apart from the Law, that there is no way we can be justified through self-effort (“the flesh”), and that there needn’t be any division between Jews and Gentiles who are “in Christ”.

Justification is entirely by faith, apart from the Law (GAL 3:1-24) and the rule of the believer’s life is gracious, not legal (GAL 3:25-5:1).

His arguments extend beyond Ch. 3 of course but in the following chapters, the apostle is dealing with issues surrounding the characteristics displayed in the life of a Christian who is justified by faith alone (GAL 5:2-26) as well as the outworking of the new life in Christ Jesus (GAL 6:1-16).

So let’s get into this study and observe carefully what the LORD is telling us, because one way or another, we all put ourselves under some law that Satan would use to subtly seek to subvert our salvation and subject us to self-righteous attitudes and conduct! And the flesh loves to exalt self and its own prideful efforts and look down with disdain or disapproval on others “less spiritual” than us!

1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Paul is dumbfounded, having spent time with these saints, that they would resort to such things. He knew that there had to be some outside influences whose dogma fascinated but maligned their thinking, hence the word used here “bewitched”.
The apostle called them “fools” – one who has given themselves over to unwise sensuality (as religion in its baser sense is prone to do!).

This is the sort of thing that Paul rebuked Peter for in GAL 2:14. While initially commending the saints of this region of Galatia, he testifies that they are being hindered in their “grow[ing” in the grace and knowledge of the LORD” (GAL 5:7; 2 PET 3:18). The apostle reminds them with rhetorical questions on what basis they received the Spirit as He was likewise given in ACTS 2:38; 8:15; 10:47; and ACTS 15:8; solely on the basis of faith in the Word of GOD and specifically the Gospel of Jesus Christ (ROM 10:16-17).

The apostle brings this up again in vs.14 as that “blessing of Abraham [that] might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus” namely, the Holy Spirit with Whom we are sealed permanently according to promise as it says in:
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Obedience to the truth hinges upon whether or not these Galatians have truly received Christ by faith, and that they’ve accounted their righteousness as coming from the same One by whom justification is imputed to them: through Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (buried, and risen from the dead on the third day, the essence of the Gospel; 1 COR 15:3-4). Justification must come from Christ alone and no other; should we seek to contribute to it through our own dead works, then we’ve polluted the Altar of the Almighty: the Cross of Christ! That’s what these saints at Galatia were in danger of doing, and Paul would have them repent of these things!
HEBREWS 9:11-15
11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain?

Paul refers to the Galatian church once again as “foolish” with the same connotations. Knowing GOD through the Spirit and the Word as His children, this is the essence of eternal life (JOHN 17:3). The Servant of YHWH will justify many, Scripture says (ISA 53:11). Those justified will glorify GOD for what He has accomplished on the Cross (JER 9:24; 1 COR 10:30-31; 2 COR 10:17-18; GAL 6:14-15). This is not knowing about GOD through knowledge alone, but in the relationship with GOD by virtue of the spiritual rebirth whereby we are legitimate, adopted children of GOD (JOHN 1:12-13; ROM 8:15). No religion can do this – this is the holy operation of GOD that extracts our desperately wicked hearts (JER 17:9), and replaces it with a brand new heart, suitable for habitation by the Spirit of GOD (EZEK 37:26; EPH 2:22)!

To go from such a sublime condition as having a personal relationship with one’s Creator, LORD, Judge and Savior by the grace of GOD and the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ and return to the old system of religious ceremony, sacrifices, rituals as pertaining to the Old Testament accoutrements (such being mere shadows and foretelling of Who was to come – namely, the Messiah! HEB 10:1) is to return to “weak and beggarly elements” (GAL 4:9).

His is a higher, greater, and better priestly system and sacrifice than what was given in the Levitical priestly system with all of its associations with the sacrifices of mere animals:
HEBREWS 7:11-17
11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood 15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies: "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."
(read HEB 9:15-28 also!)

HEBREWS 9:23-24
23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
Paul is concerned that the sufferings endured by the Galatians might be in vain; if their faith was not truly and firmly established upon Christ and Christ alone. The way into the “Holiest of All” was not by reformation as in the ordinances of the Old Covenant, but in the transformation through Christ (HEB 9:8-10).

These professing believers had need to persist in the doctrine of Christ, and to endure the afflictions they suffered at the hands of their fellow Jews who persecuted them for “leaving the Jewish faith” for this Y’shua. Paul admonished his fellow Jews in the same way in his epistle to the Hebrews (HEB 10:35-38).

5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 6 just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

Many admonish the church to follow the ways of the Old Covenant and the Mosaic Laws, feasts, ordinances, etc. They state that since we are followers of Jesus, and He fulfilled the Law as an example to us, we’re to do likewise.

Yet we as the church are not grafted into the olive tree that is Israel at the stock where Moses is, but rather where Abraham is – grafted into this tree 430 years before the Law was given. Thus we are sons of Abraham, not through Isaac and Jacob, and Levi and Moses – rather, spiritual sons directly from Abraham to the Messiah, and faith in Him just as expressed by “Father Abraham”
ROMANS 4:11-12,16
11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all…
(See also: ROM 4:3,9,21-22).
By faith, those who are born of the Spirit are enabled to walk (or “to live”) by the Spirit, being used as vessels, as in the case here, working miracles. We are only “clay pots” with the “glory” filling us. Like the Holy Spirit Himself, we don’t draw attention to ourselves but consistently, faithfully, resolutely point the way to the LORD Jesus Who alone is worthy of all glory and honor and power, and wisdom and strength (REV 5:12; 7:12).

8 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." 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them."

Touching on the issue of the Law once more – if it was GOD’s intention to make no distinction between the nation of Israel and the church in their obligation of upholding the Mosaic Covenant, then certainly when this issue came up (regarding the keeping of the Law of Moses and circumcision) and was addressed at the Council at Jerusalem (ACTS 15), the elders would have confirmed this notion (something that Paul contended with the Judaizers (GAL 2:4-5). Yet what was the conclusion that they came to?
ACTS 15:23-29
23 They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law" --to whom we gave no such commandment-- 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.
Some assert that none of these men were under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which was only present with apostles and writers of New Testament canon when they were under His influence to dictate doctrine in letters. They contend that this letter expressed only their personal views, not those of GOD. However, if you take note of vs. 28:

“…For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit…”

These same will protest by asking such questions as,

“So you’re OK with lying, coveting, dishonoring your parents, and what not, because you’re not under the Law?”
To which I invariably deny such nonsensical assertions and reply with,
“By the Spirit of GOD we are to live according to ‘the righteousness of the law’ and not the letter of the law” (ROM 8:4; 7:4-6).

If any intend to live by the Law, they must do so flawlessly and if they sin, they must offer up the appropriate sacrifices under the Law – but there is no temple, and no more animal sacrifices. One might suppose then that such who abide by the Law would appeal to the sacrifice of Christ, but that sacrifice was offered under the New Testament, not the Old Testament – one cannot mish-mash covenants: the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant are distinct (Check out the TTUF series, “Walking The Covenant Way”). Failure to abide in the Law flawlessly brings about the curse (DEUT 27:26; JER 11:3).

As mentioned previously – the Law is not done away with; it has its purposes. It is the most potent tool to reveal the sinfulness of man (1 TIM 1:8-10) – our schoolmaster as it were, to teach us we cannot be justified by the law (vs. 24). The Law also testifies of the holiness of GOD (ROM 7:12; LEV 11:44; 1 PET 1:16).

Not even the slightest aspect of the letter of the Law will pass away until heaven and earth themselves pass away (MATT 5:18) – and we know the heavens and the earth will pass away at the conclusion of the Millennium, just prior to the Great White Throne Judgment (REV 20:11), which shows that during that 1000 year period of the complete fulfillments of the appropriate covenants the Law will be the governing body of civil and religious law in the Theocracy of the restored Kingdom of Israel (ACTS 1:6).

11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them."

"The just shall live by faith." Is a quote from HABUKKUK 2:4.

Paul quotes this verse here in GALATIANS 3; he also quotes it in ROMANS 1:17 and again in HEBREWS 10:38. In each quote the emphasis of one of three words is stressed in all three of the books in which this quote is made.

ROMANS is all about how we are justified in Christ – “the JUST shall live by faith”. 
In the book of GALATIANS, the question posed here is how shall we then live – according to the Law or according to faith? Hence, “the just shall LIVE by faith”. 
In the book of HEBREWS the theme is all about faith in Christ rather than the Law, or angels, or Moses, or the priesthood and so the emphasis there based on the quote from HABUKKUK is “the just shall live by FAITH”.

ROMANS 4:4-5 baffled me when I first read these verses at the time when I was searching for the truth. I couldn’t fathom how GOD could or would justify the ungodly. It wasn’t until I finally understood the Gospel with the leading and direction by the Holy Spirit that it all clicked. He justifies the ungodly by means of imputation. By grace He grants the righteousness of Christ to all who believe, while Christ Himself took upon Himself our sin and the due punishment for our sin (what’s been called penal substitution” and propitiation (2 COR 5:21).

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The Word was made flesh and dwelled among us (JOHN 1:14). He became the Son of man – an innocent man as was the first Adam when he was created. The first Adam was created in an uncorrupted condition, but corruptible if he decided to rebel against GOD. This last Adam (1 COR 15:45), created in His humanity as an innocent and incorruptible man, is related to all humanity.

As He was born of Mary of the tribe of Judah, and of the house of David (and her husband, Joseph was also from the same tribe and house), He is related to both Abraham – as a Jew and to David, as One Who is in the Royal line and eligible to the throne to rule as King in Israel (MATT 1:1).

He is also the Son of GOD, and so He represents the perfect Mediator (1 TIM 2:5) Who can represent all of us before GOD and represent GOD the Father before us!
He is also the Perfect role model for us to follow because He is a Man Who is led of the Spirit, just as we are also (capable to be) led of the Spirit as children of GOD (ROM 8:1-3; GAL 4:4-6; ISA 44:3).

Each of these passages in the Old and New Testament speak of the Spirit and how He will become the “resident of the righteous” through the Spiritual rebirth spoken of in JOHN 3:3; 1 PET 1:23 and elsewhere:
JEREMIAH 31:33; 32:40; EZEKIEL 11:19-20; 36:26-27; as well as these passages:
JOEL 2:28-29; ZECH 12:10; JOHN 7:39; ACTS 2:33; ROMAN 4:9,16.

There were Jews in the early church that condemned Peter for entering into a Gentile house (something forbidden to the Jews) and fellowshipping with them. It wasn’t until Peter explained to them that he was acting under GOD’s orders and preached Christ to Cornelius and his household, and they repented, and were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the spot:

ACTS 11:15-18
15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17 "If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life."
(ISA 49:6; 60:3; LK 2:32; ACTS 13:47).

Here we shall end Part ONE, and we'll complete Chapter 3 with Part TWO soon!

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