Galatians 3:15-25

Galatians – The Law and the Promise

Galatians 3:15-25
Our passage this week is right in the middle of a larger argument Paul is weaving through Galatians 3:1-4:7. Verses 15-25 can feel quite technical at times. But stick with them. Let them fuel your gratitude that God our Father has made us righteous through faith in his perfect son Jesus!

Following a longer autobiographical section Paul is consider our relationship to the Law as believers in Christ. In our passage this week Paul emphasising to us the importance of God’s promise to Abraham, and he is exploring the purpose of the Law.

Using the example of a human contract Paul is underlining that nothing could set aside God’s promises to Abraham. These promises included a great people coming from Abraham’s line, a promised land to settle in and that they would be a blessing to all the nations of the world. Paul is clear, the Law did not set aside or change this previously agreed covenant. (You can read more about God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 12-25, particularly chapters 12, 13, 15, 18, 22, 24…)

Verse 18 is a good verse to pause on. Particularly the last phrase in it, “God in his grace gave it [an inheritance] to Abraham through a promise.” I think this verse particularly has in mind Genesis 15. In that chapter we’re told that Abram (as he was at that part of his journey) believes God that he will have many descendants, and asks for reassurance that he will be able to settle in the promised land. In response God makes a covenant with Abram. Abram halves a bunch of animals, then God passes through the middle of them (It sounds odd in a short summary like this! But you can read it in Genesis 15:7-21). Halving the animals was a graphic way of those entering the covenant to say: If I break this agreement, may I be cut up and cut off: I will deserve to die just like these animals did. Note that only God passes between the halves, showing that this covenant relies on God and is not conditional on Abram’s obedience. The promise is based on God’s grace.

Given this, why did God bother with the Law? That’s what Paul is effectively asking in v19. And he gives us several answers over the next 6 verses.

Reread verses 19-25. Here Paul argues that the Law tells us more about sin than salvation. It shows us that we are law-breakers in need of a saviour. It shows us that we are not righteous, but it doesn’t have the power to make us righteous. The Law is like a guard and a tutor in our lives, teaching us about our sin and pointing us towards Christ.

This passage is stuffed full of reminders of God’s grace. So let’s take a bit of time now to ask ourselves some questions. Have a look at the “Apply” section below…

Apply

  1. How do you view God? As a law giving and enforcing judge? Or a loving Father guiding us to faith in Jesus Christ?

  2. When are you most tempted to look to your own efforts to make yourself acceptable to God?

  3. How does knowing God’s law increase your gratitude to Christ? What difference does this make to your affections?

Prayer

Father God, thank you for your promises and for the law. Thank you for your promises and that all of them find their fulfilment in Jesus Christ.  Thank you for the law, which shows me how far short I fall but also leads me to the saviour, Jesus. Thank you that I am justified by faith in Jesus. Help me to live in your grace today.

Amen.
This Everyday Devotions was written by Andy Tuck, who works for our Wimbledon Venue.

Simon Elliott unpacks these themes in more detail in his sermon message this week on our website, YouTube Channel and at our Online Church Services.

This Everyday Devotions has also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube Channel.