Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 7
Thesis: Paul's exclusion of faith from "Law" is the exclusion of selfish "force" in a relational universe of "love".
Introduction: In our previous study we noted that Paul used Habakkuk 2:4 to validate his claim that it is "obvious" that a righteous standing before God is absolutely impossible out of a context of "law". In that study we attempted to show that God's faithfulness to His promise through Habakkuk was the catalyst for permanently eliminating overt apostasy in Judah. Thus, Paul chose to found his arguments for justification by faith on the text of Habakkuk 2:4. Clearly, the first stage of the establishment of justification before God has to do with identifying "God" in contrast to all of the pretenders (the point of Habakkuk and Daniel). Then, the very next issue is that God inhabits a relational universe (as opposed to a mechanical one) and that one of the fundamental issues of that universe is "trust" (the "abiding" principles are "faith, hope, and love, these three").
In our study this evening we are going to move into Paul's "proof" that "law", as a system, is completely outside of the boundaries of God's relational universe. We will do this by looking into Galatians 3:12 and Paul's declaration that "law" is not "of faith". What does this mean?
January 22, 2012
- I. What it Does Not Mean.
- A. Because every "system" has principles of operation, "law" and "faith" are not "exclusive" at this level.
- 1. There is a "law of faith" concept in Paul's thought: Romans 3:27-28.
- a. When "principles of operation", as a fundamental premise of "system", are in view "law" and "faith" are not exclusive.
- b. Paul's clarification is that there is a "system" wherein there exists a "law of works" and there is another "system" wherein exists a "law of faith".
- c. Paul never teaches that "faith" is without fundamental, inalienable, immutable "principles of operation".
- 2. Even within the distinct "systems", both the principles of faith and the principles of law function in each.
- a. In "law" as a system, it is nonetheless required that people "believe" the laws because there is no commensurate response without "belief".
- b. In "faith" as a system, it is nonetheless required that people "respond" (i.e., "work") according to the thing "believed" because that is the nature of faith exercised by persons.
- 3. Also, within the larger context of the physical universe, both "systems" continue to have an undeniable and inevitable impact.
- a. Paul told the Galatians that if they attempted to apply the "system" of Law to God's relational universe, they would come under a curse.
- b. Likewise he told them that if they attempted to ignore the "system" of Faith in God's relational universe, they would reap corruption.
- B. At the "principles of operation" level, "law" and "faith" coexist without conflict.
- II. What it Does Mean.
- A. At its most basic level, what Paul meant is that the "systems" are mutually exclusive.
- B. The "system of Law" is declared.
- 1. "Life" arises out of the performance of individual laws that exist within the system.
- 2. But, the critical issues are two: first, the meaning of "the one doing them"; and second, the meaning of "shall live by them".
- a. In regard to "the one doing them" the issue is also bifurcated.
- 1) One of the issues involved in "doing them" is the issue of motivation: why is one doing them?
- a) Paul argues that one of the motives of "doing" is to "glory".
- b) He also argues that one of the motives of "doing" is to "escape" persecution.
- c) His arguments assume the root: "doing" is, by design, an exercise of "sovereign control".
- d) His point is one: no one escapes the selfishness of the motives for taking action.
- 2) The other issue is whether, in fact, the one "doing them" is actually "doing them" in a way that can stand the scrutiny of Justice.
- a) Since the "law" is an expression of the essential character of God, it has to go without saying that no one can actually "do them" as long as the motives are ungodly.
- b) Thus, Jesus felt it necessary to eliminate the distinction that the Jews had created in their minds between the "act" and its essential nature (He said, "You have heard it said ... but I say unto you.").
- b. Then, in regard to "shall live by them" there also exists a couple of qualifiers.
- 1) The first issue is how a person defines "shall live".
- a) Those caught up in "law" as a system invariably define "life" in truncated, transitory terms.
- i. There is a temporary pleasure in the body.
- ii. There is a temporary sense of security in the soul.
- iii. There is a temporary sense of esteem from others.
- b) But "living" from a biblical sense stands above and outside of these truncated and transitory terms.
- i. Everyone has been exposed to the fact that there are some who have a sense of personal joy even in pain, danger, and humiliation (humans usually turn such examples into "testimonies of the potency of the human spirit").
- ii. The fact is, "joy", as the essence of the Life of God, depends entirely upon God; thus removing "joy" from the transitory setting: He is beyond and outside of His creation and that "joy" is communicable to anyone inside of His creation who has a "trust" relationship with Him (which assumes the John 17:3 "knowledge" and the James 2 "genuine faith" concept).
- 2) The second issue is whether anyone can actually "get there from here".
- a) Obviously, Paul's "shall live by them" is tongue in cheek since he just got through saying everyone of that ilk was "under a curse".
- b) Not only can no one ever do all of the commandments perfectly (James' "keep the whole law but offend in one part": James 2:10), no one can ever do any of the commandments perfectly (perfection begins with perfect love which no man has reached).