NRSV- Galatians 3:23-29 - 23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Amplified: 23 Now before the faith came, we were perpetually guarded under the Law, kept in custody in preparation for the faith that was destined to be revealed (unveiled, disclosed), 24 So that the Law served [to us Jews] as our trainer [our guardian, our guide to Christ, to lead us] until Christ [came], that we might be justified (declared righteous, put in right standing with God) by and through faith. 25 But now that the faith has come, we are no longer under a trainer (the guardian of our childhood). 26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. 27 For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah] have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ. 28 There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ [are in Him Who is Abraham’s Seed], then you are Abraham’s offspring and [spiritual] heirs according to promise.
The Proof of What Faith Does for Us
Introduction: some in the churches of Galatia were spreading a false teaching. They were saying that a person is justified by works and law; that is, that a person becomes acceptable to God by subjecting himself to Christ, but he must also subject himself to the law and do the very best he can. Christ is important, yes, but a commitment to live by the law—a commitment to do the very best one can—is also essential in order to be saved and acceptable to God.
The false teaching sounds good, for a person not only should, but he must, do the best he can. Actually a person should not only do the best he can in seeking God, but in everything he undertakes. However, Scripture is very clear: man is not justified by being good and doing good. Man just cannot be good enough nor do enough good to become perfect. God is perfect; therefore, man must become perfect if he is to live with God.
How then can a person become acceptable to God? By faith in Jesus Christ. When a person believes in Jesus Christ, he honors God's Son, and God honors the person who honors His Son. God honors the person by doing the very thing the person believes. Therefore, when a person honors God's Son by believing in Him, God honors the person by doing the very thing for which the person trusted Christ. God counts the person righteous, credits his faith as righteousness. Note, however: belief does not mean mental assent, just believing in one's thoughts and mind that Jesus Christ is the Savior. True belief is spiritual commitment, the commitment of one's heart and life—all that one is and all that one has to Christ.
How do we know that we are justified by faith, and not by the law and doing the best we can? Because of what faith does for us.
1. Two pictures of the law (v.23-25).
2. Faith makes us children of God (v.26-27).
3. Faith in Christ makes us one: eliminates all distinctions and prejudices (v.28).
4. Faith in Christ makes us heirs of the promise (v.29).
Point 1. The law was a prison for man. Before faith came, that is, before Christ died, man was "kept under the law." The word for "kept under" (ephrouroumetha PWS: 2249) means to be guarded, kept in custody, imprisoned, held in bondage. Very simply, the law shuts man up under sin; it imprisons and holds man in bondage to sin.
a. The law shows man exactly where he fails—exactly where he comes short. There is no question about it: the law said to do this, but the man did that. He did not do this. The failure is clearly spelled out, just as clearly as a speed limit sign spells out the violation of the speeder.
b. The law accuses and condemns man. As soon as a person violates the law, the law charges him. The law is in black and white, written down, so there is no question about it having been broken. Therefore, it preys upon his mind, cuts and convicts his heart. Guilt and conviction take over and the man is troubled and vexed to varying degrees, all dependent on the seriousness of the violation.
c. The law has no life and no power to deliver man from the punishment due him for his violation. This is the whole point: the law reveals the violation and condemns man; it imprisons him. The law does not deliver man; it condemns man to bondage. It continues and continues to point out man's sins and failures. And the case of the law is endless: its finger of accusation points out the man's failure everytime he violates it. The bondage to the law is perpetual.b. The law was a guardian for man The law was a schoolmaster or guardian (paidagōgos PWS: 3388) for man. The law was man's guardian to lead him to see his need for Christ.
The paidagōgos was usually a trusted slave who was in charge of a child's moral welfare, but he had one particular duty to which Paul was referring. Every day the guardian took the child to school and delivered him to the teacher. And then at the end of the day, he returned for the child and brought him safely back home. This was what the law was to do. The law was to lead man to Christ, the true Teacher. The law does this by showing man that he is utterly unable to secure righteousness by himself. He must look to Christ, the real Teacher, for righteousness and acceptance by God, that is, for justification by faith. And once Christ (faith in Him) has come, there is no need for the law nor for any other guardian, for Jesus Christ brings us face to face with God.
Point 2. (3:26-27) Faith— Believers, Position: How do we know that we are justified by faith and not by the law and by doing the best we can? Because faith makes us children of God. As stated in the previous point, Jesus Christ bring us face to face with God. He stirs God to adopt us as children of God. How? by faith. Note two crucial points.
1. Faith causes us to focus upon God's Son, Jesus Christ. Man can rest upon one thing: God will accept anyone who focuses upon His Son Jesus Christ, for God loves His Son to the ultimate degree. God is no less than any normal father who loves his son. In fact, God is much more than man; He is perfect. Therefore, God loves His Son, Jesus Christ, with a perfect love. This simply means that God will honor any person who honors His Son by believing and trusting Him. If a person believes in Jesus Christ for righteousness, then God will honor that man by counting him righteous.
The point is this: the person who tries to become acceptable to God by the law and by doing the best he can—the man who focuses upon the law and good works—that man keeps his mind upon the law and struggles to be good. God is not the center and focus of his thoughts and life; the law and works are.
But the person who has faith in Jesus Christ focuses upon Christ. He honors God's Son; therefore, God accepts his faith, the focus of his life, as righteousness. The person becomes acceptable to God. God actually accepts the person as a child of His. How is this possible? The answer is the subject of the following point.b. By clothing us with the righteousness and Sonship of Christ
2. Faith clothes us with Christ, with His righteousness and Sonship. This is a most wonderful truth, for it tells us that we can actually "put on" Christ—a glorious revelation! The phrase "put on" is the picture of putting on clothes, of covering oneself. All that Christ is can cover us. Christ is two things that hold great significance for us.
a. Christ is the very embodiment of righteousness. He is the Son of God who came to earth to secure righteousness for us. He lived a sinless and perfect life; He always obeyed God, never violating the law or will of God—not even once. Therefore, He was the Perfect, Ideal Man; He was the Pattern of what every man should be. As the Ideal and Perfect pattern, He could represent all men; and this is exactly what happened. Jesus Christ is our righteousness. When we believe in Him, God clothes us with Christ, with His righteousness. And, because we are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, God sees us in His Son and accepts us.
Picture this illustration. If my left hand wraps itself around the index finger of my right hand, what is seen? My left hand, not my index finger, for my left hand covers my index finger. Now, let my left hand represent Christ, and my index finger me. When Christ covers me, who is seen? Christ, of course, not me; for Christ covers me. So it is with faith. When I believe in Jesus Christ, my faith covers me with Jesus Christ and His righteousness.
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21).
"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
"And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:39).
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).
Christ is the Son of God; therefore, to be clothed with Christ means that we are covered with His Sonship. When God looks at the believer, He sees His Son Jesus Christ covering him; therefore, He counts the believer as a son of His. This is the way we become children of God: by faith in Jesus Christ, God's Son. When we believe that Jesus Christ is God's Son, God takes our faith and places us in Christ, and to be in Christ is to be in the Sonship of Christ. God actually sees us in Jesus Christ, in His Son. Therefore, he accepts us as children of His—all because our faith has covered us with Christ.
Point 3. Faith in Christ makes us one: Eliminates all distinctions and prejudices (v.28)
3. How do we know that we are justified by faith and not by the law and by doing the best we can? Because faith in Christ makes us one, eliminating all distinctions and prejudices."There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
This is a startling truth: Jesus Christ is the answer to all the prejudice, bitterness, hatred, oppression, and inequalities of earth. Every believer stands on an equal footing before Jesus Christ: the footing of faith. No person is accepted for any other reason than faith. All persons who come to Jesus Christ come...
because they are ever so short of Christ.
because they are ever so different from Christ.
because they are ever so imperfect.
Yet, Jesus Christ accepts them. Jesus Christ reaches out and embraces all believers despite their being so much less and so different from Him. Therefore, when we look at another believer and he differs from us, we do just what Jesus Christ did for us. We love, accept, and embrace him; Every true believer loves and stands in Jesus Christ. Therefore, when we look at another believer we see him in Christ. We do not see the believer, but we see Christ covering the believer. We pay no attention to his color, nationality, sex, social status, or any other differences. Differences just do not matter. All that matters is that we all grow into the image of Christ—love, accept and become more and more the brothers and sisters of God.
Point 3. Faith in Christ makes us one: Eliminates all distinctions and prejudices (v.28)
4. Faith in Christ makes us heirs of the promise (v.29)
4. (3:29) Faith— Inheritance: How do we know that we are justified by faith and not by the law and by doing the best we can? Because faith in Christ makes us heirs of the promise.
Remember the promise made to Abraham: the promise of God's blessing, of God's presence and leadership, of being accepted by God and given the privilege of living forever in the land of Canaan (the type and symbol of heaven, of the new heavens and earth). The point is this: Jesus Christ is the heir of Abraham; therefore, if a person is in Christ, then he inherits the promise made to Abraham. He inherits the promise of God's acceptance, of righteousness, and of living forever in the new heavens and earth as a son of God.
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:15-17).