"Is the law, therefore,opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe."
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ releases prisoners from the chains of sin. The Law offers no help in releasing those held imprisoned by sin. In fact, the best the Law can do is stand by and watch, condemn, and impair any escape by guilty sinners. Furthermore Paul clearly states that the Law's greatest failure is that it cannot give dead men life, "For if there had been a law given which could have given life truly righteousness would have been by the Law" (3:21b). Faith in Christ moves beyond the visible barrier of the Law and unlocks the chains of guilt and sin.
This amazing transaction takes place when guilty sinners put their trust in the work of Christ alone as the One who completely obeyed the Law, paid the penalty for those who broke that Law, and rose again in victory over the death for sin that the Law demanded.
This is the heart of the Gospel. That's why Paul and Peter came to verbal blows. Much more was at stake than eating rights at the table; at the center of this seemingly innocent controversy rested the full truth of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- How does teaching salvation by works or keeping the law pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
- What place did the law have in Paul's life before his conversion?
- What is the root of hypocrisy/legalism?
- Why does Paul confront Peter?
- What does Paul unequivocally teach about the law/faith in Christ?
- How does anyone possess or gain righteousness?
- Who does Paul use from the Old Testament to teach salvation by faith?
- Since keeping the law doesn't save what is the purpose of the law?
- What does the law actually do to a person? How is anyone freed from sin?
- What does the Holy Spirit do within every believing heart?
Thank God that salvation comes through Jesus Christ and not by keeping the law. Ask the Lord to help you appropriate the truth about sonship and the Holy Spirit's presence in your life.