Question:

You said in one of your articles, "He offers forgiveness of sins if a person submits to God's laws."

What about faith? Shouldn't we live by faith and not law (Galatians 3:12)? Also, what about Romans 7:1-6?

Answer:

The requirement for faith is a part of God's law. "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Those who believe are obeying God.

When looking at a passage, you need to understand both the passage and the context in which it appears. "However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, 'He who practices them shall live by them'" (Galatians 3:12). A key to understanding this verse is to ask which law is Paul discussing? For that, we must look back in the context.

"For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them.' Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, 'The righteous man shall live by faith.' However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, 'He who practices them shall live by them'" (Galatians 3:10-12).

The frequent quotations from the Old Testament show that Paul is discussing the Law of Moses. His point is that in order to be justified by the Law, a person had to keep all the laws perfectly -- something no one was able to do. Instead, even the Law of Moses points out that faith is required. Paul did not say faith was the only thing necessary. His point is that you can't be justified without faith and this was in accordance with what God commanded when Paul quoted Habakkuk 2:4.

"Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:1-6).

Here again, the context shows that Paul is discussing the Law of Moses. Here he is arguing that Christians are not under that Law. Those who were once Jews were released from the Law of Moses by the death of Christ, but that doesn't mean they were released to live without any law. They were released so that they might be joined to another law -- the Law of Christ. Notice how this section ends, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin" (Romans 7:25). He made the same point in Ephesians 2:11-18 and Colossians 2:8-14.

Paul argues that law-keeping without faith is useless because you will always fail. James argues the other side of the coin: faith without obedience is also useless (James 2:14-26). There must exist an "obedience of faith" (Romans 1:5).

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