Thursday, September 03, 2020

Galatians and Righteousness (4) Law

People who worry about being right with God have missed the point. Those who rely on the works of the law to be right with God are totally wrong. Paul explained that the Torah cannot make people with right with God (Gal 2:16,21). That was not its purpose.

The Torah provided spiritual protection for the people chosen and called by God. The Torah also provided a way for them to live close together in relative peace in the promised land. The Israelites needed spiritual protection and guidance for living together because they were not righteous. If they were truly righteous, the spiritual powers of evil would not be able to attack them, and they would not need spiritual protection. They would be able to live in unity without needing laws to resolve disputes and deal with crime. They needed the Torah because they were not righteous.

The law put people under a curse because it gave the spiritual powers of evil authority to attack anyone who disobeyed God (Gen 3:10-11). It does not make people righteous but exposes their unrighteousness. Fortunately, it also puts in place protection for those who are sinful, so the spiritual powers of evil could not destroy them.

Paul explained the law cannot make people righteous, because that was not its purpose. People who are worried about being righteous should rely on Jesus’ death and resurrection (Gal 2:21). The only way to be righteous in God’s eyes us to be united to the Messiah through faith, so that when God looks at us, he sees him. His righteousness becomes our righteousness, but it is his, not ours.

Abraham did not worry about trying to be right with God (Gal 3:6-9). I presume that he knew he had faults. Instead, when he heard God telling him to move to a new land, he obeyed that call, even though he did not know where he would end up. He trusted the God who spoke to him. That faith is what was counted to him as righteousness.

The law was provided for sinful people living before the time of Jesus to keep them safe from evil. It was not intended to make them righteous. Those who are looking for a demonstration of their righteousness, either in the law, or the gospel, are on a wild goose chase.

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