Faith Justifies; The Law Condemns (3.6-14) 2/3
"So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.'" (). These verses speak of two classes of religious people; one class is "of faith" and the other class is "of the works of the law." One class is blessed with believing Abraham and the other class is "under the curse." We will look at these two classes of people, and the nature of their beliefs.
The phrase "cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law" is taken from Moses' words as recorded at . These are the closing words of the "Curses Section" of Moses' instructions to Israel which were to be spoken by Joshua at a future time at Mount Ebal. The words of this section of the book of Deuteronomy contain sobering and ominous warnings regarding disobedience. The law itself had no provision for real justification; it only had a means by which someone could be declared unrighteous. No man could keep all the law, try as he might! Every would-be law keeper sooner or later became a lawbreaker. Hence, Paul's words of warning had real meaning to those who were "of the law." Their religious system, by definition, could not make one righteous.
On the other hand, those who were "of faith" were blessed with believing Abraham. To be blessed with Abraham is to receive the blessings reserved for Abraham and his spiritual descendents. Those who saw their bankrupt conditions as they stood before an unyielding law were children of Abraham. Their confidence was not placed in the law, but in the willingness of God to forgive their transgressions of the Law when they met His conditions of forgiveness.
There is a world of difference between these two positions though from the outside they might appear strikingly similar. People on both sides of this aisle demonstrate a great respect for God, for His authority, and for the Law. One side places its confidence in their ability to keep the law while the other side recognizes from the outset their inability to remain on the right side of the law at all times. Though those who are "of faith' know that they will sin from time to time, they take nothing for granted; they dare not sin just so grace can grow larger (cf. ). The side that is "of the law" has confidence in their own ability to walk flawlessly; they have little or no room for grace and mercy: their confidence is in themselves!
Those who place their confidence in their abilities to live sinlessly are not at risk; they are doomed. Fifteen hundred years had elapsed since Moses had received the law and not a single person had succeeded in keeping all it tenets. On the other hand, since the beginning of time, God had been willing to show mercy toward those who recognized their inability to live flawlessly; His system of faith had always made provision for them. Cursed or blessed it all depends on how we see ourselves, how we see God, and how we respond to the law of faith!
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