14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
1901 ASV Translation:
14 For if they that are of the law are heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of none effect:
15 for the law worketh wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there transgression.
I. Paul's Argument For Faith.
A. The principle of "Law" is the principle of human fulfillment of a requirement that has been established by God in order for the human to obtain the result that is in view.
1. Inclusive in the issue of "requirement" is the issue of established specifics: what is actually required?
2. Inclusive in the issue of "requirement" is the issue of penalty for failure.
a. Involved in the issue of penalty is, at a minimum, the lack of acquisition of the objective in view.
b. Further, the issue of penalty may also include the imposition of consequences beyond the simple denial of the acquisition in view.
1) There almost has to be more involved than simple "denial" of the objective.
a) Most "objectives" are put forward as a means to some end. This is what I call a servant objective. All objectives are servant objectives except the "final" one -- the absolutely ultimate objective.
b) The denial of any servant objective means, therefore, that the "end" is also denied.
c) If the "end" was another "servant objective" rather than the ultimate one, everything downline from it is also denied...including the contributions that those objectives make to the accomplishment of the ultimate end.
2) There is also the possibility that the failure will be responded to by God with the active imposition of more than simple withholding: He may not just deny a privilege; He may impose additional punitive consequences. Not only will He refuse the wicked servant the position of honor over the household, He may also have him lashed with lashes.
3. Inclusive in the issue of "requirement" is the question of capability: can the person upon whom the requirement is laid actually meet it?
B. The principle of "Faith" is the principle of divine fulfillment of a promise that has been made by God to provide the result that is in view.
1. Inclusive to the issue of "faith" is the requirement that God does that which is necessary to accomplish the desired objective.
a. There are only two ways God can do "necessary" things: He can instantaneously act without instrumentality; and He can act through instrumentality by making sure that the "required" parts of the process all fall into place.
b. "Promise" does not specify how God will accomplish; it only establishes that God will accomplish.
2. Inclusive to the issue of "faith" is the requirement that man believes God.
a. There are no "promises" for those who do not believe.
1) Hovering in the background of all communication between persons is the issue of the purpose for communication: the establishment or destruction of relationships between persons.
2) Promises made are relationally significant and faith is the only way they can establish/maintain a relationship.
3) Promises fulfilled to an "unbeliever" do not enhance a relationship because there is no relationship where there is no trust.
4) If one does not come to faith, there can be no ultimate realization of relationship and that makes fulfillment of promises impossible since destruction is the only option to distrust.
b. The promises to those who do believe are, however, on a divine time table and not on a human one.
c. The timeframe is not the only issue for faith; the setting of fulfillment is also in view. Most of the promises of God are not going to see fulfillment in the physical lifetime of the believer. Most of those promises are going to see fulfillment in the eschaton.
3. Inclusive to the issue of "faith" is the fact that only God can empower a man to believe Him.
II. Paul's Argument that Law and Faith are Exclusive.
A. The "exclusivity" is not total: Ephesians 5:2.
1. There were "promises" in the "Law".
2. There are "good" and "better" promises involved in the covenants: Hebrews 8:6.
B. If law is in the picture, faith is not in the picture.
1. Paul's argument is "historical": "Promise" was given 430 years before "Law" was imposed (Galatians 3:17 and context).
a. If a thing is "promised" without the imposition of qualifications, any later imposition of "requirements" has to be outside the boundaries of the "Promise" and has to have a reason for the imposition that does not compromise the "Promise".
b. Paul's argument in Galatians 3 is that the imposition of "Law" was not "against" the "Promise" and was "added" because the "Promise" was not being believed.
1) The purpose of "Law" was to generate an awareness of one's sinfulness (note Romans 7:7) by generating an explosion of offences (Romans 5:20) as a child-trainer to bring a person to "Promise" as the effective methodology (Galatians 3:24 and 4:1-5).
2) There is nothing in the Law that will kill ofitself (Galatians 3:21 and 5:14, 23) but Sin uses the Law to kill (Romans 7:11) through deception because of the weakness of the flesh (Romans 7:14).
3) "Faith" will keep a person "on target", but the person who is not occupied with the promise(s) will go astray and will need something to redirect his focus. The Law is that "focus-generator".
2. "Law" is a principle of condemnation -- which cannot be operative under "Promise".
a. Law fundamentally works condemnation ("kata" plus "ergadzomai") so as to eliminate "hope" from that direction.
b. But, where no "Law" has been imposed, there cannot be the imposition of condemnation (where there is no law, sin is not imputed: Romans 5:13). Paul says "for where (adverbial use of "hou") Law is NOT, neither [is there] transgression (the crossing of a known boundary)."