As believers, we should want to live a righteous life before God. The question is; how do we get there? I’ve been posting through Galatians and talking about legalism vs. faith. Aren’t they simply two different roads that get you to the same place?
There are those who teach that they are. They tell you that the way to a righteous life is hard work, tears, and a lot of self-control. After all, it’s a hard road to keep yourself holy.
In reality, that’s not the teaching of Scripture. Look at what Paul writes to the Galatian believers.
Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
The word, opposed, in the above verse is a common word with many meanings depending on the context. I believe that Paul is asking if the Law is opposite – or the other side of the coin – to the promises.
In other words, you can follow the Law or you can trust the promises, but you can’t do both. They’re opposite paths. So what Paul is asking is, are they different paths to the same goal of righteousness?
I believe that this interpretation is correct because of the way Paul answers his rhetorical question. He clearly tells us that there is absolutely no way that righteousness can be obtained through following the Law.
As a matter of fact, Paul goes on to tell us that there is only one road that brings you to this destination.
But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Scripture is clear on this subject. Every human being on earth is under the cloud of sin. The only way out is through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. There’s nothing else I can do to take me from sin to righteousness.
This means that apart from faith in Christ, the Law is needed simply to keep things in order.
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
That’s why society needs laws. Without the Holy Spirit at work in us, there’s nothing to maintain peace and order. The more godless the society; the more laws that are needed.
This verse goes so far as to tell us that the law is like a prison. It locks people up until they come to faith in Christ. Think about how true this is.
If a car thief gets sent to prison, does that mean he’s no longer a thief? No! He just doesn’t have the opportunity to steal any cars.
In the same way, I might get mad at someone, and feel like beating them up. But because I know that the law says it’s illegal, and I could go to jail if I act on it, I keep myself in check. Does that make me any less of a criminal in God’s eyes?
So we have a society of people who are prisoners of the law. They want to do things that the law says they shouldn’t. So they act correctly, at least while others are watching.
The only answer to this dilemma is faith in Jesus Christ. By submitting to Him, we allow the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out. This is the promise of God. That His Spirit would be in control of us, leaving us free to serve God with all of our heart.
Question: Why do so many believers choose to serve the Law after accepting Christ’s salvation?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017