Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. Galatians 5:1 MSG

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What is Paul talking about here?

Remember that in Genesis 17:10, God gave circumcision to Abraham and the generations after him to establish His covenant with them. God went so far as to say that if anyone refused to be circumcised, he was to be cut off from his people.

God’s laws were before their time, since He knew all things, and wanted to protect His children. Laws about not eating pork, hand washing, and circumcision as well, helped keep them healthy in a time when there were no refrigerators or freezers; there was the risk of contagious disease in primitive living conditions especially. We have become all too familiar in the current pandemic. Today, it is known that a woman is more likely to have certain diseases when married to an uncircumcised man.

But the apostle Paul was saying that circumcision, as the sign of a spiritual bond, was no longer necessary or desirable. With the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, the covenant of law established with Abraham made way for the most excellent covenant of grace, bought with Jesus’ blood.

The law brought death, in that it was impossible to keep perfectly. God provided a way of forgiveness through the blood of a perfect lamb without blemish, sacrificed at various times, and once a year at Passover. This was looking toward the time when Jesus, God’s perfect Lamb without blemish, would purchase forgiveness, once and for all, for those who would believe – also at Passover.

Faith is always required. Abraham, under the covenant of law, believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

Paul is admonishing the Christians in Galatia not to fall back into a system of laws for their salvation – a way of turning their backs on the awful price Christ had paid to free them. If they could be made right with God by keeping the law, what was the point of Christ’s death? As Jesus Himself said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” They either believed Jesus, or they didn’t. And the way they lived would prove what they believed.

It is the same with us today.

Categories: Bible study

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