Sorry I'm starting in the middle here, but I don't want to go back through the rest of what I've already studied (hmm, wasn't I saying something earlier about being lazy?!). Anyway, so today I was studying about the promise and the law in Galatians 3:1-14. I was amazed the first time I read this section of the Bible because it points out that the Law was created 430 years after the promise was given to Abraham (that all people on earth would be blessed through him). So the law wasn't supposed to be the way to God. This time, when I tried to study this section, I got a little stuck on what exactly the promise is and how we're supposed to handle the Law now. Let me preface this by saying I'm a rules-oriented person. If I'm given a rule to follow, I will - the sillier, the better (I'm sure I'll give some examples at some point here! But, as my husband tells me, all I have to do is tell people I actually did all the summer readings assigned in high school, and people will get the picture! So there you have it - I'm that girl!). So, my point - if I can find some freedom from laws in the Bible, I'm jumping at it! I need freedom from myself!!!
What I got during this reading was this - the promise was originally directly given to Abraham on the basis of his faith (he BELIEVED and it was credited to him as righteousness). Then, 430 years later, God gave the law through a mediator (Moses). The law was given to "tutor" the Jews, to guard them until Christ came, to point the way, and to help them see their need for a savior so that when that Savior appeared, they would recognize their need for Him and receive Him. Now that faith has come (in Christ), we no longer need the law to tutor us. God puts His Holy Spirit inside us and He convicts us and guides us. Romans 7 talks about how we have been released from the law (SIDE NOTE: I didn't find this connection myself. My Study Bible has a cross-reference to Romans 7 . . . don't give me too much credit here!) because we are dead to it. Before, when we were under the law, we bore fruit for death - because the law points out our sin, and the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23). When we have faith in Christ, we are united with Him - in His death (so we die to sin - meaning it is no longer our master, and the law - meaning it no longer condemns us) and in His life (so we now bear fruit for Him).
What does all this death talk mean, anyway?! This takes me back to Galatians 2:11-21. Again looking back at Romans 7, you can see that we died to the law through the body of Christ (vs. 4). We are, then, no longer held accountable to the law. God is our accountability (?) - or perhaps the standard the Holy Spirit sets within us. By accepting that Christ died for me, I am accepting His fulfillment of the rquirements of the Law - so, the law no longer has any hold on me. More than that, as Galatians 2:20 points out, I have been crucified with Christ and no longer live. So, basically, I am dead - I have surrendered my rights to my life - and Christ lives in me. Knowing this, I live my life by faith in God. It is by faith because we canno see our death - but we believe what Christ told us is possible, that by believing in Him, He lives through us. That's encouraging, then - that the law no longer applies to me because Christ died to it for me. But there's an even better part . . .
Gal. 5:24 points out that, by accepting Christ's death and dying to ourselves, we have also crucified the sinful nature. Christ CANNOT live again to sin, having died to that life (Romans 6:10 - The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.) - He now lives to God. By accepting Christ as our Savior, we are asking Him to live within us. So we, too, can count ourselves death to sin (Romans 6:11 - . . . count [ourselves] dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus). So, while sin may TEMPT us, it cannot MASTER me because my master is God. I live for Him now, NOT sin. Just like Christ was tempted in the wilderness, we can be tempted - but we no longer have to give in to that temptation because we are dead to sin. That's the real freedom - sin no longer has any control over us once we give our lives to Christ. The Bible says we can only serve one master (sorry, I can't remember where that one is off the top of my head!) - we either serve God or we serve sin. By choosing Christ, you have made the decision to serve God. Sin has no control because it cannot control what it does not master. By faith, we accept all of this. Ah-ha - so that's what faith means!!!