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Covenant Versus Law

Galatians 3:18
For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. (NIVUK)

Jewish-background Christians found it difficult to believe that the Law given to Moses was not God’s ultimate authority: they could not see how Jesus had greater authority. Paul explained that God’s promise to Abraham was an unconditional covenant which would be fulfilled by Jesus, whereas the Law came about 500 years later and was a conditional covenant. The condition was that God would bless His people if they were obedient, but would curse them for disobedience.
God’ Law given to Moses was a temporary way of enabling people to know what pleased God: it told God’s people how to live harmoniously and not get entangled with the false religions around them. But the unconditional covenant came first, and pointed to Jesus who would fulfill all God’s promises for His people (because they could never satisfy the demands of the Law themselves). That covenant was given because of God’s grace. It is the difference between working hard to get paid, and receiving a gift which has been given in love.
Many people today still believe that they have to earn God’s favour; thinking that unless they are good enough, God will not bless them. Those people need to discover the grace of God. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Eternal life can never be earned, but it is freely given to those who believe in Jesus (see the video at www.crosscheck.org.uk). If you are already a believer, choose to thank God today for His grace, marvel at His love, be comforted by His forgiveness, be strengthened by His presence in your life and live to please Him to show that you are truly grateful.

Covenant-keeping God. Thank You that all Your promises are perfectly fulfilled in, and through, Jesus Christ. I am so grateful to You for welcoming me, not because of my faultless law-keeping, but because I truly believe that Jesus Christ died for me. But I am sorry that I easily revert to thinking that You will love me more if I try harder. Please help me to delight in Your love and be eager to please You – not to gain Your favour but to express my gratitude. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams