Paul addresses the Galatians and asks them; “Are ye so foolish? …are ye now made perfect by the flesh? …He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galations 3:3,5)
Paul is essentially asking the Galatians if they are justified by the law or by their faith in Jesus Christ. Many of the Galatians believed that if they followed the letter of the law, they would be saved. During this period of time in History the law was either directly from the scriptures or derived from the scriptures. So one could say they are following all of the laws, but without having a true intent in their heart at following the commandments of God and having faith in Jesus Christ… they would not be saved.
Here is a modern day example: Someone drives 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. They obviously broke the law by doubling the speed limit. But, will they be judged of that by God? No, because they have not broken God’s law. If that person pays the ticket and goes on living a good life following the law of God, they will be saved. Let’s say that same person decides to speed down the sidewalk with the intent on killing someone. Now that person has still broken the law, but they have also broken God’s law by murdering someone. God will judge them now, and the chances of them being saved and returning to live with God has drastically gone down. However, we cannot say for sure what will ultimately happen to that person… because God will judge them in the end, and only HE can decide.
Paul goes on to explain that because we ALL are part of the Covenant, the same one made by Abraham we all have the potential to return to our Heavenly Father. This is so, because we can; “…receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14)
Justified by Faith Alone?
Some argue that it is by faith alone that we can return to live with God. Is it really that simple? Paul points out that “…the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24) Paul is saying that we are given commandments and laws to guide us so that we can not only have faith, but live by it. If someone has faith in Jesus Christ, they also have faith in His teachings. Jesus Christ taught that we are supposed to live a good life, filled with service, love and joy. Can someone truly have faith in Jesus Christ if they don’t live by His teachings? No, and that is why faith and works go hand-in-hand. In the very next verse Paul states; “…after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Galatians 3:25) Does that mean we no longer need to live by His laws? Absolutely not, but now that we have obtained our faith… we know how to live without someone having to tell us. The laws and commandments are known and our disobedience and lack of discipline will distant us from Him. True DISCIPLEs of Christ, are DISCIPLined in Christ’s teachings.
Paul ends this chapter by explaining how we are all counted under the Abrahamic Covenant; “For ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)