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Lesson 7: The Road to Faith *

Introduction: Let's review for just a minute. Last week we learned that the original contract between God and Abraham was that Abraham would believe God (trust God) and God would credit righteousness to Abraham. These were the promises between Abraham and God. This contract was operative even though Abraham was a sinful man. We also learned that we inherited Abraham's side of this contractual agreement between God and Abraham. After the original contract, God gave humans the Ten Commandments (and other laws), and after that, Jesus came to make good on the contract between Abraham and God. So, where does this leave the law? Is it a relic of the past? If so, why was it given after the original contract? If it is not a relic, what role does it play in our day to day lives? Let's wade into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Law Versus the Promise?

    1. Read Galatians 3:21. What do you think Paul is really asking the Galatians? On the face of it, Paul seems to be asking if the law in some way nullifies God's side of the contract. Is that correct?

    2. Look again at Galatians 3:21. What answer does Paul give? What does this answer tell us about the question Paul was asking? (Paul essentially says, "What would make humans righteous? Would the law do that? No!" Since the law cannot make us righteous, Paul tells us that the law cannot be "opposed," or be a substitute, for our inherited contractual agreement.)

    3. Read Galatians 3:22. What is your relationship with sin? (If you are a part of the world, then you are "a prisoner of sin.")

      1. What is Paul's authority for saying that the "whole world is a prisoner of sin?" (Paul tells us "the Scripture declares." The Bible tells us that we are prisoners.)

      2. What does common sense tell you? (As we discussed when we studied Galatians 2, Paul argues that we inherently know that we have a continual problem with sin - a problem that the law cannot cure.)

    4. Look again at the last part of Galatians 3:22. What is the cure for our continual sin problem? (God's promise is that if we trust Him, which means believing (trusting) in what Jesus has done on our behalf to give us righteousness, we will be righteous.)

  1. The Law

    1. Read Galatians 3:23. Wait a minute! Paul has been arguing to us that the promise (the contractual promise of righteousness) came before the law. How can he now write that the law "locked [us] up until faith should be revealed." (The fulfillment of God's side of the promise was Jesus coming to earth as a human, living a perfect life, and dying on our behalf to pay the penalty for our sins. Before that we were "locked" into eternal death because of our sins.)

    2. Read Galatians 3:24. Paul states the purpose of the law. What is it? (To "lead us to Christ.")

      1. How does the law lead us to Christ? I thought Paul previously told us ( Romans 7:7-12)that our sinful reaction to the law caused us to do the very things we are not supposed to do. Just like the "do not touch" signs in a car museum make you want to touch the cars! How does this lead us to Jesus? (We realize that we cannot keep the law. The law is the standard, and the only way we meet its perfect standard is through what Jesus has done on our behalf.)

      2. Instead of "lead us to Christ," the King James Version translates Galatians 3:24 as "the law was our schoolmaster." What additional insight does that provide? (When you look at how different translations render the original language, it is like looking at a gem from different angles. We learn something when we find ourselves in violation of God's law. We learn His law is right, and we learn that we are lousy at keeping it. That teaches us that the law is good and we are not. We need to claim Jesus' perfect substitute on our behalf.)

    3. Read Galatians 3:25. What does it mean that we are no longer "under the supervision of the law?" The law no longer has anything to teach us? How can that be?

      1. Is there a difference between a teacher and a supervisor? Is there a difference between a school teacher and a police officer? (This would be a great distinction based on the way this verse is translated into English. But, when I looked this up in Strong's, the same Greek word is used in verse 24 (teacher) as is used in verse 25 (supervisor).)

      2. This puts us in a logical box. Galatians 3:24 tells us that the law leads us to Jesus. Galatians 3:25 says we no longer need the leading of the law. Can you explain this?

    4. Read again Galatians 3:24-25. If the role of the law has changed between these two verses, has anything else changed between these verses? (Verse 24 says that the law "lead[s] us to Christ." Verse 25 says, "now that faith has come." On the face of it, I would have thought that "faith coming" meant "Jesus coming." But, if you read "faith coming" as your faith in Jesus arising, then we can see a reasonable distinction. The law supervised us (taught us) about our need for Jesus. When Jesus came, and we believed He is our perfect substitute, then the Holy Spirit becomes our primary teacher, not the law.)

    5. In case you are doubtful about this explanation, let's review what Paul says about the law in Romans. Read Romans 8:1-2. What does Paul say has changed here? (He says that the "law of the Spirit of life" set us free from "the law of sin and death." This sounds like a life led by the Holy Spirit has set us free from a life led by the Ten Commandments.)

    6. Read Romans 8:3-4. What does this tell us the law is powerless to do? (It cannot save us because we are "sinful man." However, in Jesus "the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met.")

      1. What is the qualifier here? (That we live "according to the Spirit.")

      2. Does this now make sense to you? Before Jesus came, the law taught us about God and taught us about our inability to live a perfect life. Since Jesus came, He fulfilled our obligation to the law (if we accept His sacrifice on behalf of our sinful life), but Jesus has done more than that. Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to be our life guide.)

    7. Read John 16:5-7. Who comes after Jesus departs to heaven? (The Holy Spirit.)

    8. Read John 16:8-11. What is the job description of the Holy Spirit? (Exactly what Paul is telling us! Just as the law revealed to us our inadequacies, the Holy Spirit convicts us of guilt. He convicts us of "sin and righteousness and judgment.")

      1. Do you think that the Holy Spirit has a different standard for living than set forth in the Ten Commandments? (Read Romans 3:31. There is nothing wrong with the law, there is something wrong with us! That is why we need grace. The Holy Spirit is God. It is most illogical to think that the Holy Spirit would lead us to do things that the law identifies as sin.)

    9. Read Romans 8:5-8. What does Paul say is the relationship between the leading of the Holy Spirit and the law? (If the "sinful mind" does not "submit to God's law," this suggests that the mind "set on what the Spirit desires" does in fact submit to God's law.)

      1. Is "submitting" the same as "obeying?" (If we make a loop here and end up saying that we must obey the law in order to be saved, then we are just like the "bewitched" (see last week's lesson) Galatians! As Galatians 3:3 warns, we must not begin with the Spirit and then return to trying to attain righteousness by our human effort.)

    10. Read Hebrews 8:10. What does it mean to have God's law written on our heart? (This is the place we want to be. The Holy Spirit lives in us and brings us to the point of wanting to do God's will. We are no longer rebels, we are grateful followers of God.)

    11. Friend, do you want God's law written in your heart? Do you want a living relationship with God, and not a relationship with a relic (human obedience to the law)? Why not ask the Holy Spirit every day to lead your life?

  2. Next week: From Slaves to Heirs.
* Copr. 2017, 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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