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Friday, October 16, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 14

In His Letter to the Galatians (continued)

The Situation Among the Galatian Christians (continued)

Well, first of all, take the anit-Paul party. What is their trouble? What is it that they are seeking to establish? In brief, in a word, their object is to establish the old, Jewish, religious tradition. They are standing vehemently for the permanence of that system. They are arguing that it came directly from God, and what comes directly from God cannot be changed or set aside. This thing has the support of antiquity. It is the thing which has obtained and has existed for many centuries, and therefore it carries the value of being something that is not, like Paul's teaching, something quite new. It is established in the ages of the past. They would go further, and say that Jesus did not abrogate the law of Moses: He said nothing about the law of Moses being set aside. Well, there is all this argument, and much else besides. Their position is that Judaism, the law of Moses, is binding upon Christians. 'Be Christians, if you like, but you must add to your Christian faith the Law of Moses, and you must come under the government of all the Thou Shalts and Thou Shalt Nots of that tradition and that system; you must conform to the teachings and the practices of the Jewish system, of the tradition of Moses.' That is their position in brief.

On the other hand, there is Paul. He is no stranger to Moses, no stranger to the Jewish system. Born, bred, brought up, trained and very thoroughly taught in it all, nevertheless here he is found directly and positively opposed to their position. He argues that the Law was given by God indeed, but it was only given by God to show up man's weakness. The real value and effect of the Law is to show what man is like - that he just cannot keep it. How hopeless man is in the presence of God's demands! How helpless he is before this whole system of commandments - Thou Shalt and Thou Shalt now! And though Christ did not abrogate the Law, set it aside, and say, "That is all finished", Christ Himself was the only One, the only One among all human beings that ever walked this earth, Who could keep it; and He did keep it. He satisfied God in every detail of the Divine Law; and having satisfied God and fulfilled the Law, He introduced and constituted another basis of relationship with God, and thus the Law is in that way set aside. Another foundation of life with God is brought in by Jesus Christ.

That is Paul's argument in brief. Of course, there are many details in it, but Paul comes to the opposite conclusion to that which these Judaizers had reached. The Mosaic law is no longer binding upon the Jews. The argument of Paul is that in Christ we are freed from the Law. The great word in this letter is liberty in relation to the Law.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15)

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