Galatians – A Call To Freedom –
7. The blessing of Abraham
Key Text: Galatians 3:6-14
Galatians 3:6-14New International Version (NIV)
6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a]
7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[b]9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[c]11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[d]12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[e]13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[f]14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
We are in week 7 of our study through Galatians. Due to the main theme of the book we have spent 7 weeks establishing and defending the gospel. We have focused on the heart of man to make the gospel more than it is and we have seen that the gospel is actually what we deeply need.
This week we will go back to the OT to see that faith is always how God has established righteousness and how those who are declared righteous walk in that righteousness. And essentially this is what I want to really nail down tonight.
We kind of touched on it last week; that the way we walk in the Christian faith is the same as how we start in it. Both happen not through works but through faith. How Paul achieves this in this passage is by contrasting two historical realities to every Jew; Abraham and the Law. And tonight I want to get us to the place of freedom in Christ, where we walk by faith and not by Law.
So let’s get into this;
Paul’s argument goes to the father of faith; Abraham. Paul starts here and says in verse 6;
6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a]
The NIV translates the word her well, the term used in the Greek for credited to him as righteousness. This word is an accounting word literally meaning counted to you. Or credited to you.
To put it in the way the text puts it; Abraham was not righteous so God said okay you are righteous. God credited righteous to Abraham. It was God’s righteousness and he deposited it against Abraham’s name.
It is like if I decide to give you a million rand; the second it clears into your account it is yours; even though you didn’t earn it. You would be credited as a millionaire.
So it was like this with Abraham; God declared him to be righteous! And what was the reason for this crediting Abraham as righteous?
Now I need to justify this; it wasn’t a blanketed belief as I have heard some people say; I believe there is a god out there.
The word used here is Abraham trusted God; he believed in Him and because of that trust God credited him as righteous.
There is a great difference between believing in something and trusting.
I can believe in Santa Claus, but if I trusted Him to bring me presents – without someone actually playing his role I will be disappointed in it.
We can say we believe in God, but in fact out trust – our dependency is actually in our salary, our relationships, our abilities, our networks.
The reality is we believe in him but that doesn’t actually change us; if we claim to trust in God; it affects our actions; it means that our hope is in Him, our deliverance is in him and our strength for being is in him. Do you trust him? Do you trust in the gospel; that if you put your faith in Christ He is able to save you from the judgment of your sin?
You see church; Abraham didn’t just trust God; Paul looks back to the call of Abraham and doesn’t say it was a loose trusting in God; it was the gospel. Read vs 8;
. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[b]
Now there is so much just in this verse that we could literally spend two weeks here; but just to go over the meat:
Paul runs to the heart of the issue; God would justify the Gentiles (that’s us) by faith; and so announced the gospel to Abraham.
The Gospel was announced to Abraham? How is that possible; Jesus is nowhere in that passage; there is no understanding of Propitiation. How is this the gospel. Well let’s look at it.
Now there are two passages essentially, we have to look at however they exist on the same narrative arc in the Bible. Gen 12 and Gen 15.
In Genesis 13 we have the messianic hope announced; that through the faith of Abraham out of his decedents all nations of the earth would be blessed. And in chapter 15 we have God declaring to Abraham that He and He alone is Abrahams reward and that indeed He would deliver the promise of descendants to Abraham and in chapter 15 we get the passage; Abraham believed God and God credited it to him as righteousness.
Abraham had a profoundly loose understanding of Messianic salvation; yet it was enough! And as soon as Abraham believe God about the gospel; he was counted as righteous.
He did not earn it or deserve it; yet when he believed he was saved.
And I would argue that throughout the Old Testament the same idea is repeated; people were saved by one means and one means alone; faith in God’s salvation!
It was never earned; and the law was never ever a means to salvation. Which leads to point 2 tonight;
2. Consider the Law
Paul contrasts this reality of faith with the one of works. From verse 10-13 Paul argues that the Law always has been and always will be the opposite to faith.
It is an OT and NT heresy that the Law can save - I would argue it is the natural sin tendency of man and it is the very thing that we always fall to in the rejection of God.
You see this in verse 10;
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[c]
Now we might not be trying to earn our salvation from obey the mosaic Law; but we might be trying to earn our worth through some level of effort and the same curse relates to us.
If you are trying to win your salvation; the very means that you are trying to win your salvation with will become in itself a curse to you. Because it is insufficient to save you.
It will burden you to the point of death; if it is the law – trying to be good enough – you will live constantly dying to know how good is good enough! This will curse your very existence.
The reality it no matter what it is if it is not Christ it cannot give you what your heart is truly longing for so you will end up destroying that thing and it will definitely become a curse to you.
I would argue that the single greatest need our nation has and the people of this nation have is to recognizes that nothing in this world will bring them the release and satisfaction that they want.
We have a people who are chronically trying to seek salvation and worth through stuff; through success through fame; through personal emancipation.
And I would argue it is a curse to them, for when they get it they will discover that it is hollow and is not what their heart was truly longing for, this is the curse of our land.
Church the way we overcome our doing; our hope in trying to win our worth and significance from anything other than Christ is to live as Abraham did: by faith!
Now this is far easier said than done. Because our hearts are so naturally bent towards creating our own salvation! We, because of our sinful nature, are continually replacing our need for God with other things.
And essentially this, church, is where Abraham becomes our real example. The gospel needs to become everything to us. Jesus needs to fill our hearts and our lives in order to fix our hearts.
Augustine, a Church father from the fifth century, who is probably one of the churches greatest thinkers. Came up with the idea that all sin is disorder love.
He stated that we are created to love things in a certain order. His basic understanding was that we should love God then others then self, and all our problems come when something we should love becomes something we love supremely.
The only way to reorder these loves is to replace the false love with real love, the love of God in Christ Jesus; Augustine calls the believer to reorder our love and then love others in the light our of love for God (not as an end or love in themselves) and to love ourselves and by that the things we desire in light of our love of God.
We can only overcome our sins, and find freedom, when we find ourselves satisfied in God’s love in Christ. It is only when Christ and His love for us is enough for us that we begin to see our sins as they are cheap imitations of that real love that we are longing for in Christ.
It is like when Nats and I went on Honeymoon, we took 3 weeks honeymoon, which was awesome, but one of the stints was 10 days at a “self-catering” place in the wilderness. And by self-catering they meant it had a fridge and microwave. So Nats and myself literally ate out for 10 days in a row. Which was nice for like the first 4-5 days. After that you kind of get sick of the constant overly rich food. And after 5 days of very little veg and far too many chips I was starting to not enjoy food any more.
I remember we went to a restaurant after a movie the one night and I was so over chips and fried food I just ordered a steak and veg, Nats likewise also being over the fried food ordered the veg platter. Well I got a beautify steak and some nice veg, Nats got this platter of deep fried mush; to say that I won that decision was an understatement. However, to bring my point in at the end of those 10 days we craved home cooking; why because we are not made to live on all that junk.
Just as this you were created to only be satisfied in Him and so you will be starving for that satisfaction and so seeking it in junk until you actually satisfy yourself fully in Him
So, church learn to satisfy yourself in Christ and the sufficiency of His death for your sins. nothing else will come close.
Live in the blessing of Abraham; live by faith!