Summary: Paul makes it clear that faith and not the law has always been the key to God’s favor.
In the early 1930’s the US had a problem. Crime had run amok. The prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s had given rise to pervasive organized crime. A frightened public demanded a response, and the government wanted to send a message to criminals. Their message was named Alcatraz. A tiny island in San Francisco which had previously been used as a military prison. From 1934 to 1962 Alcatraz housed some of our nation’s most notorious outlaws including Al Capone.
Thirty-six prisoners were involved in escape attempts: 7 shot and killed, 2 drowned, 5 unaccounted for, the rest recaptured. 2 prisoners made it off the island but were returned, As for the June 1962 escape, Morris and the Anglin brothers were successful in escaping both the institution and the island, but survival is very questionable.
The rock was one of the most successful examples ever of an escape-proof prison. But there is one prison even more inescapable and it is the one referred to in the Scripture we just read in Galatians: The bondage of sin.
The passage for today is a continuation of the discussion from two weeks ago in which the Apostle Paul was responding to some teachers who said that the way to escape sin’s shackles was through obedience to a strict set of rules known as the law of Moses. We call these teachers the Judaizers, because basically they were teaching that to become truly Christian one must conform outwardly to the Jewish law.
Paul’s response to these teachers is that the law is not a way to escape the bondage of sin, rather faith in Christ, trusting in His sacrifice on the cross as a payment for sin is the only way to be set free from sin’s bondage and consequences. In today’s text he furthers that argument by pointing out that his teaching isn’t a new concept, but the same thing God has always asked for.
Now let me say up front that today’s message is not exactly the same kind you’re used to hearing from me, it will be more directly theological and , and the application to your daily life may not be readily apparent. There are no "three steps to freedom" but I trust that you’ll agree that the importance of the message cannot be overstated, the three goals that I do have for each of you here today are:
1. that you will gain a deeper understanding of God’s Grand Plan of Grace throughout history, which will enhance your entire understanding of Scripture from this point forward,
2. That this understanding will cause your faith to grow and you will snuggle just a little bit deeper into god’s grace resting in the sufficiency of Christ and
3. That this increased faith will cause you to exercise your freedom in Christ to serve Him more and more.
Interrogative: The primary questions we seek to answer are: How does the Law of Moses relate to the Promise to Abraham, and how does each apply to our new life in Christ?
Transition: So lets get to it, the text breaks clearly into two divisions, the first relating to the relationship of the Law to God’s promise to Abraham and the second relating to the purpose of the Law. First let’s look at...
1. The Priority of the Promise (vv. 15-18).
This first section deals with the fact that the Promise that God made to Abraham to bless the world through his offspring is both more important than and previous to the Law that was given through Moses. First let’s look at the fact that
A. Law does not Set Aside the Promise (v. 17).
"What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise."
If you and I made a deal for me to buy your house, signed a contract and at closing I said I can’t pay what I said I would, that wouldn’t fly would it?
Paul is saying that’s the same deal here, God made a deal with Abraham based on his trust in God--his faith. The blessing was based upon that faith. God would not have come along later to Abe’s offspring and said, OK new deal now it’s got to be faith PLUS obedience to these standards if you want the blessing I promised to Abraham.
Yet, that’s exactly what the Judaizers had said to the Christians in Galatia, OK you were saved by Grace through trusting in Jesus, but now if you want new life you’ve got to follow these rules. It’s not fair even in human understanding, surely God isn’t trying to pull a slick one.
Second, the Promise has priority because it is a...
B. The promise is a Gift not a Reward (v. 18).