A brief overview of the Paul’s Letter to the Church at Galatia.
I’ll start with a brief background as to why Paul was writing this letter to the Galatians. The church at Galatia was teaching that those who wished to follow Christ, both Jew and Gentile alike, must submit to the Old Law that was put in place under Moses. Paul opposed this teaching as it was counter to the Gospel that was received from Jesus Christ. Paul argues that Jesus died on the cross to fulfill the Law for all; mankind was overcome by sin, with no hope for salvation. Man could not find salvation through mortal means. Paul suggests that going back to following the Old Law would, in essence, be denying the power that Christ’s death and resurrection held.
“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me…'” John 14:6 NLT
Man had no hope of finding his own way to salvation, he needed a divine intervention; Jesus Christ provided that intervention. The letter to the Galatians provides insight into how we should treat the Old Law as well as what is required of us to achieve salvation. This is a short book, having only 6 chapters, however, it’s message is of the utmost importance.
The Old Law Torn Down Through Jesus’ Death
“Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” Galatians 2:16 NLT
Paul spells it out plainly here. The Galatians were teaching that, in order to be saved, one had to submit to the Old Law as well. Paul, however, indicates that faith in Jesus Christ is the sole path to righteousness.
“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” Galatians 2:21 NLT
“2Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” Galatians 3:2-3 NLT
Jesus died for all sins so that we may have eternal life. Christ tore down the Old Law, something that sinful man could never obey. We are now saved through our faith in He who died for us. Why would we then try and go back to the Law? It is as if man says that he can find his own salvation, and thus, Christ’s death on the cross was meaningless. Following the Old Law, after Christ’s death, was seemingly done as a way to make oneself look superior to his neighbor. Paul knew the true motives and had to set the Church of Galatia back on the right track to salvation.
“6In the same way, ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ 7The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.” Galatians 3:6-7 NLT
Paul looks back to Genesis for support. The Law did not exist when Abraham found favor in God’s eyes, and was promised to be the father of many nations. Abraham’s faith alone, as demonstrated by his willingness to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, was more than enough in God’s eyes. The same goes for us, Jew and Gentile alike. We are saved through our faith in Christ alone. We often times overlook this and over complicate Christianity, getting tied up in all sorts of legalistic arguments.
“Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.” Galatians 3:19 NLT
“21Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. 22But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.” Galatians 3:21-22 NLT
With the Old Law Torn Down, How Should We Live?
“16So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.” Galatians 5:16-18 NLT
“24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” Galatians 5:24-26 NLT
The second half of Galatians cannot be overlooked. Some may view the abolishment of the Old Law as a free pass to do whatever the heart desires. Paul made sure to set the record straight. The Law was originally put into place to show man his sinful ways; however, now that Jesus has given Himself for us on the cross, we have received something far greater, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is now our guide to walking in the light. Every pursuit and desire we have in this sinful world will always be in direct opposition to what the Spirit desires. Seeing the fleeting satisfaction of our worldly desires will leave us without question that we were meant for something far greater. Everyone struggles with sin in many ways, shapes, and forms. When you decide to walk in righteousness and follow the Spirit, the sinful desires of this world must take a back seat. The sins of this world will do everything in their power to drown out the Spirit calling you. We must being willing to act counter to our human nature if we wish to truly walk with God.