Starting by the Spirit, but Continuing in the Flesh
Our obedience to God is important, but it could never make us more acceptable in His sight. From his teaching series No Other Gospel, Derek Thomas shows how the book of Galatians helps us understand the relationship between the law and the gospel.
The law on Mount Sinai played no part in Abraham’s justification. It was over 400 years into the future. Well, the law coming after cannot change then the provision that God made, the promises that God made in the covenant with Abraham. You understand why he’s taking us down this road because on the one hand he’s got Jewish Christians who are now beginning to insist on obedience to the law in some form or fashion in order to be justified, and he’s got Gentile Christians who have no relationship, historic relationship, ancestral relationship, genetic relationship to Abraham. And he wants both sides to understand the significance of the promise that God made to Abraham, the promise that eventually leads to the giving of Jesus. To seed, not seeds in the plural, but seed as of one, meaning Jesus, that all of this comes to pass in Jesus Christ. The law cannot undo justification by faith. Your obedience to the law cannot make justification by faith more certain. We do tend to default that way, don’t we? When things are not going well, when we’re in periods of non-obedience, when we’re backslidden, a whole multitude of pastoral conditions. And we sometimes say to ourselves, “If only I did a little bit more, if only I prayed just a little bit more, if I was sweeter or kinder or nicer or something, that I would be more justified.” And Paul is saying when you do that you’ve turned the gospel on its head. And there is a tendency, there is a proclivity, it’s here in Galatia, but there is a default mechanism within all of us to start with the gospel and to continue in the flesh, to receive the Spirit by faith but to continue in the flesh. And Paul says no, that cannot be.