AA (17 March 2011)
"RE: to Barry Amundsen"


 
Hello chaver (friend),
 
You mention several things in your letter dated March 15th concerning the value of keeping the commandments according to the book of Galatians and several of Paul's writings.  Let me begin by first saying that we must know that Paul does not contradict himself.  Paul states:
 
Rom 3:31  Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. 
 
Galatians as a whole book must be read in context.  First, it should be noted that Galatia was a nation of primarily pagans.  So at the beginning of the chapter you cite, these are not former Jewish believers of God who are again looking to the 'law' to save them.  Rather these were Gentile pagans who believed by faith unto salvation the Word of God who are now being taught by 'religious' people that they must add to that faith, Circumcision in order to guarantee their salvation.  It is the 'circumcision to be saved' issue that is being addressed by Paul as an effort to be 'made perfect' in the flesh.  This is not Paul dismissing obedience to the commandments of God, but rather Paul is assuring them that salvation is made perfect by faith alone.  Obedience to the commands follows salvation naturally, but salvation cannot be obtained by obedience to the commands.  Even the Jews knew this.  They knew it was a 'free gift' that they received because of God's faithfulfness to the covenant made due to Abraham's faith only.  They never thought that obedience to commands is what saved someone.  They just thought you had to be Jewish to be saved which is why they errantly taught that circumcision was necessary for salvation as being circumcised was a ritual act that made a non-Jew a physical descendant of Abraham, thereby guaranteeing them salvation in the Jewish mindset.  It was THIS doctrine that Paul warned the Galatians so strongly against...NOT the obedience to the commandments of God. For to do so would have made Paul an enemy of the Messiah as someone who practiced and taught lawlessness.
 
The 'Law' of God is not in opposition to our faith.  We know this because Paul himself said:
Rom 7:14  For we know that the law is spiritual.....
 
God is not contradictory either.  We know that Jesus is God in the flesh. (John 1:1)  We know that Jesus is the Word and that the words he spoke were LIFE.
 
Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
If all of this is true as the New Testament gospel makes clear, then we must remember that Jesus, being God, is the same who spoke the WORDS of the Law to Moses.  That means that people can LIVE by believing those words too. 
 
Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
 
If Jesus is God and God spoke the Law, then man can live through believing those words too! Notice that man is supposed to live by EVERY word that comes from the mouth of God.  So to make the Law something that we are not to believe and obey anymore means that we are not living by EVERY word that came from the mouth of God.
 
We must be careful to understand the culture, language, primary issues, etc. of the time in which Paul was writing or we will be easily misled into thinking that Paul contradicted God in many ways.  We must not think that Paul says there is no value in the Law for us today.  Rather we are to establish the Law. We must not think that the Law brings death, because as it is the Word of God, it brings life to those who would internalize it. It has always been our refusal to believe God's Word that brings death (our unbelief manifested as disobedience), NOT our obedience to His Words. 
 
Our efforts to obey the Law (Word of God) is no longer capable of making us a debtor when we fall short because Jesus paid our debts.  It is THIS penalty as recorded in the Law that we are freed from, but not because it was free.  Jesus very much paid a high price for us so that the Law would be 'satisfied' where sin is concerned.  Jesus did not do away with the Law, rather He obeyed and upheld the Law by paying the ultimate price that is required for those who err in keeping the Law.  But to then conclude that because we no longer have a penalty where we fall short in the eyes of the Law means we don't have to obey it is a grievous error that has been mistakenly taught for too long. We now are able to walk in obedience without fear, not because there is no Law to obey, but because it has no threat or power over us when we fall short.
 
That, my friend, is as James calls it...the PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY!
 
Shalom
~~A.A.