Friday, March 20, 2009

Galatians - Week 7 Choose Life!

Scripture contains three types of law.

1. Ceremonial laws - These laws were strict details of how to worship, God's way of cleaning His people from the many heathen practices they had picked up. Example - Leviticus 1:1-13 gives vivid details about the burnt offering which was a general offering for sin showing the seriousness of sin through loss of life, the devotion of the one making the offering as it was expensive, showed God's mercy, and ultimately pointed to Jesus as the one perfect sacrifice for all sin.

2. Civil laws - These were given to direct the daily living of the Israelites. For example - Deuteronomy 24:5 says that for the first year a newly married man should not work or go to war but should stay home with his new wife and while this is a wonderful idea it would not be practical in our culture today...other examples include laws about lending, farming, and handling people with leprosy. Yet our culture is so radically different now it would be almost impossible for any of us to adhere to these laws...yet the principles behind the laws should guide us (how to treat others, investing in our marriages, honoring God and so forth).

3. Moral laws - These are direct commands from God and they reveal the nature and will of God. A great example of these can be found in Exodus 20:1-17. We are to obey God's commands not to obtain salvation but to live lives pleasing to God.

The false teachers combine all three types of law, ceremonial, civil, and moral and demand that salvation come through Jesus and strict adherence to these and they pull the "Moses" card on the churches.

Moses, the great law giver, the great prophet, the author of the first five books of the Bible..."These aren't our words...this is what Moses said..."

The false teachers point to Genesis 17:1-14 as one of their reasons for following the law.

Genesis 17:1-14 God comes to Abraham, makes a promise to Abraham that he will be the father of many nations, that kings will come from Abraham, that God will always be the God of his people, and that God will give Abraham and his children the land to posses. As an outward sign of God's promise (covenant) with Abraham and his people God commands Abraham to circumcise himself and every male member of his household. To be circumcised is to be identified with God, to be identified as one of Abraham's children, and to be blessed under God's promise.

"Look! Here is the very promise of God! This is the sign of the covenant...everyone must be circumcised to be under the blessing of God and to be made right before God...especially gentiles who have recently converted to Jesus! God made a promise and gave a command. God gave His law through Moses and we follow the laws, we circumcise according to the law, therefore we are children of Abraham. God made a promise and He must keep it!!!"

Galatians 3:5-6 "Not so fast.." Paul seems to say. Yes, Abraham did obey God's command but that was not what made Abraham righteous before fact Abraham was not made righteous through circumcision, nor through his actions, nor through following the law....Abraham was made righteous before God through his faith in God - Genesis 15:6. God credits Abraham with righteousness 430 years before the law, 29 years or so before taking Isaac up on the mountain, and before circumcision. Faith precedes righteousness and faith comes from God revealing Jesus and the gospel to Abraham Galatians 3:8.

Jesus said Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." On at least two occasions (Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44-45) Jesus opens up His Bible and shows His followers how all of scripture is about Him and only about Him and how all of scripture points us to Him. It's not about where we worship or how we worship but what do we worship and what is our heart toward worship.

God tells Abraham that He will bless the nations (not just Israel but all nations) through him and this will come from his seed(singular referring to Jesus). The blessing God speaks about to Abraham is Jesus. God's son being born of a virgin through the line of Abraham, living a sinless life, seeking after us, serving us, saving us from our sins by dying on the cross for us taking God's wrath upon Himself dying in our place and paying the penalty. By doing so Jesus becomes the only mediator between God and sinful man reconciling us to a Holy God and reconciling us to each other...not just one nation but all nations, peoples, cultures, races, and genders and not just for the here and now but for all of eternity.

Galatians 3:10 The law in an of itself doesn't give joy, life, happiness, takes joy as it reveals to us our sins, it takes happiness as we learn just how dark our hearts truly are, and it brings only death as it condemns us for our transgressions. The law is a curse to everyone who tries to cling to it for salvation. "I'll do better next time..." and "I'm sorry..." don't work and won't cut it. Because everyone who clings to the law and puts their faith in the law yet breaks even the smallest is guilty of breaking the whole law. This weighs heavy on our hearts, it oppresses us.

Galatians 3:13-14 Yet Jesus became the curse for us. By taking upon Himself every instance of every time of every infraction both big and small where you and I have broken the law. Galatians 3:14 God did this so that all nations, through Abraham, could receive Jesus and be made right before God. What is so wonderful is that for thousands of years after God's promise to Abraham, God is still faithful to His promise in spite of our wickedness, our fickleness, our hard hearts, our changing hearts, our fluctuating affections and wavering devotion...God is unmoved and His heart is unchanged. He loves us and He keeps His promises!

Galatians 3:15-18 God made a promise to Abraham that through his seed, again singular, Jesus would come. Four hundred and thirty years later the law was given yet the law did not alter the promise.

Some of you are saying to yourself right now...."I just don't get it? Then why in the wide wide world of sports did God give us the law to begin with? If the law 1. cannot save us and 2. if God knew we could not keep it?"

Galatians 3:19 The law was given to us to show us our sins.
Galatians 3:22 The law was given to contain us and place us all on equal footing as sinners. Everyone who has or will ever live is contained under the law and is a prisoner of sin. Rich and poor, black and white, educated and illiterate, old and one not one is exempt.
Galatians 3:24 The law is our tutor pointing out our need for Jesus. Our continued effort to be a good person to overcome temptation, to do better next time to be holy, to follow God's commands only leads us to failure, frustration, and weariness in ourselves. The more we dig into God's word the more we realize how perfect God is, how holy God is, how righteous God is and how imperfect we are, how unholy we are, and how unrighteous we are and how no matter how hard we try, how much we try to turn the screws there is never any amount of white knuckling that can help us follow God's commands perfectly, without sinning in deed or thought. And so the law leads us and teaches us that all of us need help, someone to save us, a savior, Jesus.

Galatians 3:25 Once we receive Jesus we no longer need to be tutored or taught this.

There are over 600 laws, commands and statutes given in the Old Testament...each of them point to Jesus.
In the Old Testament there are seven types of offerings and each of them point to Jesus.
In the Old Testament there are seven festivals each of them point to Jesus.
In the Old Testament there are seven feasts each of them point to Jesus.

In Jesus we have the perfect offering for all sins, we have the perfect fulfillment of the requirements of the law.

The law has a purpose in that it contains us all and puts us all on equal footing as sinners. The law teaches us about the will and nature of God, and the law points us to Jesus.

If you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you are still contained under the law and still accountable to the law. You are cursed by the law for any infraction against the law, big or small in word, deed, or thought is counted against you as having broken the entire law. The law cannot save you, it cannot bring you eternal life.

If you do know Jesus as your Lord and Savior then He has perfectly fulfilled all the requirements of the law on your behalf by being under the curse of the law for you. You are no longer to live under the law in an attempt to gain a right standing before God because you have been made right through Jesus.

Do you know Jesus?
Do you love Jesus?
Are you free through Jesus?
Do you still struggle with performing before God in an attempt to please God?

Through Jesus God is pleased with you, God loves you, and you are made righteous before God for all eternity.

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