Day 29: By Law or by Promise

Galatians 3:17-18  :

Now I say this. A covenant confirmed beforehand by God in Christ, the law, which came four hundred thirty years after, does not annul, so as to make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no more of promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by promise.

Notice here that Paul says that a new covenant “does not annul” an older one. We should keep this in mind regarding God’s covenants. There shouldn’t be any talk of God changing covenants. It is clear, here, that God doesn’t do that. I am very concerned that attempting to say so would be to imagine a doctrine that is not in scripture. I am speaking to the popular idea that, somehow, the promises God made directly to the nation and land of Israel somehow apply to Gentiles. It is clear that God did not make these promise to Gentiles and many of them have not yet been fulfilled.

Specifically, we see here that, in this case, it is the Mosaic Law that did not annul the covenant made to Abraham and to his One Seed. The Law of Moses was given 430 years after God made the covenant with Abraham. Abraham didn’t have the Ten Commandments. He didn’t have to keep the Sabbath. The law was not yet given. What was given was a promise, and that promise is also ours as Gentile believers.

I want to spend some time considering the difference between a promise and a law. A law is the measure of a persons behavior. The intent of the law or a rule, is to determine what good work must be done in order to merit a particular reward. The law doesn’t promise anything. It just says if you pass, you will get paid and if you don’t you will be punished. You could call a law a promise, but it is really just a measure that depends entirely on you.

A promise depends solely on the one who makes the promise. When benefit is promised, the only thing a person can do is believe it. Believing that you will receive a thing that is promised, changes how you behave. For instance, if you believe you will be given 10 years pay tomorrow, you would respond by being extremely happy and relieved that your debts would be paid off. You would feel like thanking this person and showing them your great appreciation. This proves that you really believe the one who is going to give you the money. You didn’t have to do anything to get it, you just believed the one who promised. It is by believing a promise that we are saved and live the Christian life, not by a rule.

When we really believe that God gave us such great promises, we are filled joy, confidence and happiness about the future. Our immediate circumstances begin to fade away. We all need to concentrate on the promises so that we don’t lose hope. That is why it is so good for you to be reading the Bible, praying and listening and singing good Christian music.