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Sabbath School Lessons on Galatians
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 4: Justification by Faith Alone *
Introduction: Let's review what we have learned so far in our study
of Paul's letter to the Galatians. Paul has a special gospel message
that he received directly from Jesus. The early church leaders
believed this, but there was a pitched battle in the Galatian
church, and among the early believers, over the message and
requirements of the gospel. This week Paul explains his gospel
message. As we study it, we need to ask if it is still in dispute
among Christians? Is it still in dispute in our own minds? Let's
dive into our study and examine again the heart of the gospel
- Paul's Gospel Message
- Read Galatians 2:15-16. What role does obeying the law
play in our salvation? (None. "By observing the law no
one will be justified.")
- Is this the message with which the top leaders of
the church agreed? (Yes. It might have been hard to
stay the course (see Peter's departure when the Jews
from the home office arrived in Galatia), but that
is the theology on which the leaders agreed.)
- What "law" is Paul writing about? The Ten
Commandments? The ceremonial law? All of the
writings of Moses? (It doesn't matter how the law is
defined if keeping it does not save us. If salvation
is a matter of faith alone, then whatever
requirement you try to add is contrary to the gospel
- The Obvious Problem with Paul's Gospel Message
- Read Galatians 2:17. This is the big question that is as
relevant now as it was then - "Does righteousness by
faith alone promote sin?" "How can you tell people that
the law does not matter - they will go wild!" What
answer does Paul give? (No, people should not go wild.
The gospel of righteousness by faith alone does not
- What if the question in verse 17 were applied to
you, how would you answer it? Is it evident to you
that while you seek to be justified by faith that
you are a sinner? (It is evident to me.)
- Have you run into Christians who say that they are pretty
much free from sin?
- If so, were they strong righteousness by faith
advocates? (I recall two people who told me that
they thought they were doing pretty well on
obedience to the law. One claimed to have been sin-free for two years. My judgment was that they
believed obedience was necessary for salvation.)
- My observation that those who think that they are
pretty good also believe in keeping the law to be
saved is not scientific. But, if you have seen the
same thing, why do you think that people who believe
that they are obedient believe their obedience is
necessary for salvation?
- And, if this is true, then it would seem that
salvation by works promotes obedience, right?
- Read Galatians 2:18-19. Why does Paul argue that
righteousness by faith alone does not promote the
violation of the law (does not promote sin)? (When Jesus
died in our place for our sins, we also died to the law.
Therefore the law no longer condemns us. But, if we
rebuild the law - by that Paul means that if we believe
that obedience to the law is necessary for salvation,
then our sins are held against us and we are violating
- Let's look at this again. Paul says that the charge
against my theology is that it promotes the
violation of the law. But, Paul claims the reverse
is true. Those who say keeping the law is essential
to salvation are making law breakers out of everyone
- even the most devout Christians!
- Is this just too "slick?" Is Paul's argument
like sleight of hand (magic)? If we nullified
the speed limit, then none of us would be
speeders. If we impose the speed limit, then
all of us are speeders. Nullifying the speed
limit makes us all law abiding citizens!
- Read Galatians 2:20-21. If my last question is creating
trouble in your mind, explain how eliminating the law as
the source of salvation produces more perfect people?
(Paul tells us that just as we died with Jesus in His
death, so we are to live with Jesus in His resurrected
life. We "live for God" and "Christ lives in me.")
- This seems so abstract. Let's say that tomorrow I
"died" to all of the traffic signs and laws. Someone
who is dead doesn't know anything. So, I know
nothing about the traffic laws. How is that going to
make me a safer, more perfect driver? (Obviously, it
is not going to do that.)
- What if I added the fact that the person who
designed all of the traffic laws "lives in me." What
kind of driver would I be? (If I was infused with
the Spirit of the person who was the master designer
of the highway design, the traffic laws and the
traffic signs, I would have a perfect understanding
of how to drive. I think that is what Paul is
- Let's go back to Galatians 2:19 and examine the phrase
"die to the law" in more detail. What does it mean to
"die to the law?" Does it mean that we are insensitive to
it? That we live as though it does not exist?
- Galatians 2:20 says "I have been crucified with
Christ." Why did Jesus die? (He died to pay the
penalty for violating the law. This means that
we, too, died with Jesus ("crucified with
Christ") for violating the law.)
- In what way did I die to the law? (I died
to the judgment of the law. I died to the
penalty for violating the law.)
- Does that mean that we no longer pay any
attention to the law? (No. God wrote the law.
The law is good. However, it no longer carries
the threat that if I do not obey it I will die.
I already died to the law through Jesus.)
- Let's go back to my original traffic question. Recall
that I asked that if all the traffic laws were nullified,
would that mean that none of us would violate the speed
laws? I think Paul is saying something a little
different: Jesus paid the fines for all of our traffic
law violations. Therefore, those laws don't make us law
abiding. What makes us law abiding is to have the road
designer and traffic law giver live in our mind!
- Read Romans 6:5-7. Paul again refers to us dying with
Jesus when He died for our sins. However, he adds
something more than the "fine being paid" for the
violation of the law. What does he add? (He says that
our "old self" died "so that the body of sin might be
done away with.")
- What do you think it means to have our body of sin
die? (This suggests that our old desire to sin
- What Paul writes here seems very clear, what
makes it unclear is that I know my old desires
are very much alive. What happened? Or, am I
just a very poor Christian? (Scan Romans 7:14-24. Paul has the very same experience that I
- How can your "old self die" and you still have
the struggle that Paul describes? (Let's turn
to that next.)
- Living By the Spirit of God
- Read Romans 7:4. If we have died to the law, what is the
goal of our life? (To "belong" to Jesus to "bear fruit to
- Read Romans 7:5-6. The law plus the old nature promotes
sinful passions. How does the Holy Spirit change that?
- Read Romans 6:11-14. How does this suggest that the Holy
Spirit can help us live? (Offering ourselves to God must
mean that we tell God, "Here I am, help me to live a life
pleasing to you!")
- Read Romans 8:5-9. How does this suggest that we should
live? (Again, Paul tells us that we must make a choice to
do what the Holy Spirit desires.)
- Our discussion seems so abstract. Let's look at a comment
by Jesus that might help us out. Read Matthew 5:27-28.
What would someone who believed in righteousness by works
do to keep this commandment? (Not have sex outside
- In one sense, Jesus makes the commandment much worse
for law keepers - He says you also have to control
your thoughts to avoid violating this command,
- What would Paul tell us that Jesus is teaching? (If
you want to walk with God, don't concentrate on the
anti-adultery commandment, instead, pay attention to
the attitude of your mind. Ask the Holy Spirit to
help you set your mind on what the Spirit of God
desires for you.)
- Is this walking in the Holy Spirit an essential for
salvation? (Read Romans 5:19. No. Only Jesus perfect
life makes us righteous. However, living in the
Spirit is the desire of those who are saved.)
- Now you know why Peter said (last week) that Paul is
difficult to understand in places! Friend, will you
repent of your sins and determine today to ask the Holy
Spirit every morning to help you set your mind on living
according to God's Spirit, and not set your mind on your
- Next week: Old Testament Faith.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.