Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.

The Law is Gone?


While Paul makes it very clear in these writings that only obeying the law, without faith, will not save anyone, he never says that the law does not apply to us anymore - though many people claim he does. If you accept the common modern interpretations of these books of the Bible, you must ignore the fact that they cause some glaring contradictions in Paul's statments regarding the law. To make them all fit to each other, thus resolving the contradictions, requires some concessions to recognize truth that contradicts today's popular opinions.


Galatians is a Biblical book written to the Galatians by Paul sometime between 48 and 57 A.D. Romans was written, probably by Paul, around 57 A.D. Ephesians, also by Paul, was written around 60 A.D. The book of Acts was written by Luke about 63 A.D. or later. All these books were written to inform people of God's will for people.


Truth: The Bible never claims that obedience to the law will save you - even in the Old Testament. In fact, it claims that obedience to the law alone will not save you.

"See, I told you..."

Now, here is where "everyone" translates this as meaning, "If you follow the law you cannot be in Christ", or something like that. The amazing thing is that most "Sunday" Christians think Paul stopped following God's law when He met Christ. They think he kept Sunday and not the Sabbath. They think he stopped participating in the sacrifices that were going on in the temple. They think this even though there is clear evidence to the contrary.

If they would just look a little closer, they would see that Paul stopped following the Jewish additions to the law of God. He still followed the real law, but discarded the tradtions of Israel. You will never find that he even implied, "You don't have to do what God said."

In Acts 24:14
14However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,

, Paul claimed that he does not break the law - any of them - and that he believes in the law.

Read Acts 21:26:

26The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

If Paul no longer believed that the law was necessary for Christians, why did he follow it for this purification? Because he believed that what he had learned all his life was still a valid part of the will of God. Partly because he was a Jew, but also that he now considered Christian Gentiles to be a part of God's people (Ephesians 2:19-22
19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

), they were included in His will. They were now heirs and children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7
7Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.

) and should act like it. Sounds like Paul was still doing the things required by the real law that really applied to all believers. He was just not worried about sacrifices for sin (Hebrews 10:18
18And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

), since Jesus had done that for us for our past sins if we repent and leave that life behind.

Falsely accused

Some had accused him of teaching Jews who lived among the Gentiles that "those Jews" did not have to circumcise their children according to the law (Acts 21:21
21They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their male children or live according to our customs.

). What he actually taught was that the Gentiles did not have to become Jews (i.e., get circumcised) in order to follow Christ. He was doing this purification process, with the accompanying sacrifices (offering), to show that he was still a law-abiding Jew, and encouraged other Jews to remain law-abiding Jews - abiding in God's law, not the add-ons.

So, if Paul was a law-abiding Jew, he also kept the seventh-day Sabbath according to the commandment which was still in effect for Christians after Jesus' death (Luke 23:56
56Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

). He said that the "freedom" we have in Christ does not allow us to ignore the real law (Romans 3:31
31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

), and he was speaking to Gentiles when he said it. And remember what Paul told Agrippa in Acts 26:19-20:

19So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.

But, the Bible also claims that disobedience will cause you to lose your salvation

This preaching was directed at both the Jews and the Gentiles. Note how he said that he preached to the Jews and the Gentiles to turn to God, repent, and then act on that repentance. He was saying that your works will demonstrate your repentance, faith in Jesus, and faith in His salvation, not that your works will save you. He knew that we are not actually saved until Jesus comes with His salvation (Hebrews 9:28
28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

). Everything you believe and everything you do up to that point will affect your salvation (2 Peter 2:20
20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.

, Hebrews 10:26-28
26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

). This is not the same message you hear preached in the "churches" of today.

So, Paul is a liar?

The same person who wrote Galatians writes elsewhere the New Testament:

12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (Romans 2:12-16, emphasis added)

So many people, especially pastors, read verse 12 and automatically assume that this is making some sort of allusion to the law being evil. On the contrary, this is merely a statement of fact. If you sin and do not follow the law, you will perish (1 Corinthians 1:18
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

). At the Coming of Christ, all living and dead will be judged by the law. Those found compliant will reign with Christ on earth for the 1000 years. But, those not compliant (deliberately broke the law) will stay either in the grave if they had died, or will continue their, hopefully newly changed, lives during the Millennium.

Note that it does not say that they will be judged apart from the law, but that they will perish apart from the law. If they respond to the "law written in their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33
33"This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people."

), they will be fine. Read the rest of the passage. You are not "under the law" until you break it and then owe the penalty required by the law. However, everyone will be judged based on the requirements of God's law.

Pay particular attention to his statement in verse 13 in the box above. Most pastors imply that this verse directly contradicts verse 12. How is it possible to interpret an honest writer in such a way as to insist that he contradicts himself? Essentially, that means accusing the writer of lying on at least one of his own points. Is Paul a liar? Nope. Does he tell different congregations different "truths"? Nope. Does his opinion differ from yours? If so, you should investigate your opinion.

Following God's rules is a bad thing?

Moving on to verses 14 and 15, does this then mean that non-Jewish people who "by nature" do what God says in His law are being "legalistic" accidentally, and are doomed to Hell because they obey Him? Or, does it mean that they are rightly following God's laws because He put it in their hearts to do so? We are all "under the requirements of the law", but following them does no good unless we have faith in Jesus. If we do something we "know in our hearts" is wrong, our consciences condemn us. That is the Holy Spirit reminding us that we have slipped up. If we ignore that reminding for too long a period, He will stop prompting us. That's when we expose ourselves to judgment and condemnation.

Show me where it says...

Another truth is that the Bible never claims that the law and faith are mutually exclusive. Oh, there are a multitude of believers and pastors who claim otherwise. How can this be? The only way this can happen is to make a claim about a passage that contradicts the word of God in other places. While this claim is often not intentionally obtuse, it seems that a more comfortable translation is often preferred over the truth, even when it causes clear contradictions with the words of the Bible.

Don't think so?

Rather than just say this, let's take a couple of examples. Most Bibles indicate that Luke 23:43 reports a statement made by Jesus to the thief next to Him at his execution:

Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."

Clear as a bell, right? Now, move the comma to after the word today, as in "Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise." Whoa! That changes the whole meaning of the statement!. But, anybody can move things around, like I just did, to change the meaning of something, right? Let me ask you something. If the original Greek had no punctuation, why was a comma put where it was? This is not necessarily an accurate translation of the verse, and leads many to a conclusion that contradicts the Bible itself.

It must mean this, so let's put it here

There is no punctuation in the Greek, but there is a comma before the word "today" in the translated phrase. That comma is placed in most translations so that Jesus' statement means one thing to most people - that Jesus will be in Paradise that same day with the thief. That concept contradicts Jesus' own statement to Mary on the day of resurrection, days later (John 20:17
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

). Notice that He said, "I am ascending...", not, "I have ascended...". How can He have gone to Paradise with the thief if He had not gone there yet?

However, if the comma had been placed after the word "today", then the statement would mean that the thief has, as of that moment (today), gained eternal life, and will be with Jesus in paradise when Jesus returns for His faithful. This second way of reading the statement causes no contradictions with other verses. More importantly, it agrees with the context of what the thief spoke to Jesus (Luke 23:42
42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

), as in "when you come into your kingdom" not "Take me to Heaven with you today when we die."

On the fence...

An interesting, but confusing, article on this subject can be found at Grace Communion International. It took a bit to assure myself that this site (GCI) is not the same as Grace Community Church where John MacArthur is the pastor. In essence, this site explains that Jesus was actually saying to the thief something like, "Consider it done.", rather than, "We'll be in Heaven today together.", as many think. However, after taking a long time to explain that very idea, the article ends with this compromising phrase:

Did Christ and the malefactor, then, go to Paradise on that day? We must say that, in light of the popular notion and the context explained above, they did, even though they were in the grave. The language is picturesque. It is beautiful. Above all, it conveys the best possible news that the repentant criminal could have hoped to hear.

So, because the idea is so popular, the language is so beautiful and we like the concept, some go on believing that they did go to paradise together that day - even if it may not even be what Christ said or meant.

Who decides?

Where does the comma go? The commonly accepted placement contradicts Jesus' own statement to Mary on the day of His resurrection - that He had not yet ascended to the Father. If He had not ascended to the Father, then where is the thief? That is, if he was supposed to be "with [Jesus] in Paradise" on that day?

"Well, if you look at it like this...leave out that...and add this... it could mean..."

Some will add a concept, not explicitly stated, that Paradise is another place, not Heaven, and Jesus could have gone there to be with the thief for a few minutes and had not ascended to the Father. We could just as easily, and as ridiculously, say that Paradise is a secret truck stop on Route 66 that only the dead can go to and only after they hop on one foot for the last mile on the way there. Hey, it could be...

As silly as that may sound, why would that be any more outrageous than making up anything else to make a concept fit our own beliefs rather than read what the Bible actually says and leave it there? If you place the comma after the word today, allowing it to match the statements in the rest of the Bible, it contradicts many people's belief that we go to Heaven immediately when we die. That is the main reason for the "well, it could be this" scenarios. If the word does not support our theory, the common practice is "let's make it mean something else, but we have to ignore any conflicts." If you don't add the comma at all, since it wasn't there in the first place, and read what it says in context with the whole Word, there is no issue.

Bible versions misquoting Scripture to prove a point?

As a second example, one night a guest at our home objected to my pointing out that all of God's laws still apply, even to Christians. He brought up the example of Leviticus 19:19, saying that it tells the Israelites not to wear clothing made of two different kinds of material. He then asked me if we are to follow this rule. Since I wore blended materials, I could only say that God's word still stands, even if I did not follow it as closely as I could and should. His point was well made, since most of our clothes are made of a blend of different types of threads and most people do not seem to concern themselves with the issue. So, I decided to do some investigation.


Being lazy about it, rather than buy a copy of each different version of the Bible, I went to the internet and did a Google search for Leviticus 19:19. Sure enough, there at Bible Hub was a list of verses from 27 different Bible versions: NIV, NLT, ESV, Berean Study Bible, NAS, Christian Standard Bible, Contemporary English Version, Good News Translation, and 19 other versions. Now, all but five of these were quoted as stating some variation of the phrase "never wear clothes made from two kinds of material". Those five exceptions were the King James Bible, New King James Version, King James 2000 Bible, American King James Version, and Webster's Bible Translation. These all stated a variation of the phrase "neither shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you".

What!?! Wait just a minute!

This small but distinct difference in phrasing caused me to seek further clarification. When I get concerned about contradictory phrasing in different versions, I go to the interlinear translation - Hebrew/English for the Old Testament and Greek/English for the New. While this is not always a final solution, it is usually very informative and gives a truer picture of the actual words from which the English versions were supposedly "translated". Here is what the interlinear says about Leviticus 19:19:

"Linen and wool" means any "two different kinds of materials"?

Now, I don't know about how you see it, but it sure looks like someone took some liberties with the "translation". The actual Hebrew word used was shatnez, shaatnez, or sa'at-nez, which specifically refers to a blend of linen and wool. Wikipedia gets a lot deeper into the designations of identifying wool and linen, but the result is clear. A written version of the Interlinear Bible Hebrew Greek English that I have, published in 1986, translates the word shaatnez or sa'at-nez as the English word "stuff", but Wikipedia cleared that up by explaining further. Also, that article adds an important reason why God would issue such a command - the combination of linen and wool is only allowed on a priest's "girdle" or undergarment, and on the tzitzit (knotted ritual fringes) around the edge of a garment.

The common understanding that we don't have to worry about it is a lot like the use of the word stauros being translated "cross" when the word actually means "stake or pale". Not even close to reality, but that seems to be what everyone believes, so "Let's just change it a little bit. What harm could it do?" Well, it could do a lot of harm if it steers people away from following the decrees of God.

What the Bible really says...doesn't seem to matter?

This specifically says that the prohibition of mixing is limited to "linen and wool" and does not include the broad "two kinds of material". So, why would most of the versions of the Bible generalize a specific statement from God? Going back to my discussion with the guest mentioned above, his view of the law no longer applying to Christians is based on the actions of people today and the "accepted" practices of not following God's laws and precepts. Pointing to the fact that most Christians today wear clothing of mixed thread types "justifies", for him, his stand that the laws no longer apply to us. But, as usual, the common practice has become tradition so that people often violate the will of God without even knowing that they are doing so. However, in this case, the law did not say what my friend thought.

In the same way, the fact that most "Christians" today celebrate Christmas, Easter, eat pork and lobster, and do not observe the Sabbath, "proves", again, for them, that the statements of God do not apply to us. So, the final stand is, "Since 'no one else' follows those laws, we don't have to, either.", regardless of what the Bible actually says.

More of the same

A third example is the use of the entire book of Galatians as some sort of proof that we Christians are to have no part in the law. If you read what the book actually says, it constantly reiterates that no one will be saved by keeping the law. It never says that when you keep the law you will not be saved. It does imply that if you only keep the law, and do not combine it with faith you will not make it (Hebrews 4:2
2For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

). The only way you can get to another point is to add meanings that pervert the plainly stated intent of Paul's words.

There are several great sites that explain how to interpret the book of Galatians in a way that does not conflict with the rest of the Bible (Hoshana Rabbah Blog and are a couple). The two examples here are from the Jewish perspective, but isn't that fitting based on the fact that a Jew wrote the book? Of course, if you are looking for a Gentile perspective on the writings of a Jew, you can certainly find many that take the popular, but incorrect, view - but then how do you handle the contradictions? Many just deny that the contradictions exist, and that settles that.

Down to brass tacks

Let's take a look at the book of Galatians itself and see if we can see what Paul actually says. Chapter 1 essentially says:

1. Hi, I'm Paul. Jesus sent me. (vv. 1-2)

2. Grace and peace to you from the One who can save us all. (vv. 3-5)

3. I hear that you are giving up on Christ, the real gospel, and turning elsewhere. Who told you about some other way to be saved? I never said that and I told you the truth. Whoever said that is a liar and is not following God. (vv. 6-10)

4. Jesus Christ, and not any man, revealed to me the truth about salvation. Once, I was the best Jew you could ever find and I was beating up those who believed in Christ. Then, God showed me the truth and I got on the right side. I didn't have to consult with any "authority", I had it straight from God. For three years I was guided in the right Way. (vv. 11-17)

5. After that, I went to Jerusalem and did meet with Peter and James, but other than that, no one from the churches knew about me. Those that heard were confused by the reports that he who once persecuted believers in Christ was now preaching Him, and they praised God for it. (vv. 18-24)

Now, please show me in here where Paul said, "You either believe in Jesus or you follow the law, but you can't do both." He merely said that someone is trying to con you into thinking that you have to do things their way, perverting the gospel. Paul never even mentioned "law" in this chapter.

"But, I need it to mean law!"

The problem here is that the modern stand by most "Christian" churches is to interpret the word "law" as referring to every command that God ever stated - whether to the people directly or through Moses. Does that mean that they feel that they could have eaten of the tree in the middle of the Garden and remained in the Garden?

Of course, according to them, He supposedly never meant for those commands to cramp our Gentile style. If that supports the idea that we have no law left to follow, then supposedly you can just banish me, kidnap me, or even shoot me if you don't like my interpretations. Problem solved, and heaven awaits, right?

But, wait!

However, murder is against one of God's commandments, or at least it was until recently when the pastors reinterpreted Paul in this and other books of the love letter from God. Now, many say that the law does not apply to Gentiles, but somehow still applies to the Jews.

As silly as that statement sounds, does that mean that we Gentiles can now commit adultery, steal, or curse people using the name of God and remain assured that we will be in the Kingdom, even though the Jews can't? Also, now we Gentiles supposedly do not have to obey anything to get the very thing that the Jews could not get because of their disobedience. Make up your own mind about what that means, but I think it means that many of today's Christians are deluded (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
10and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.


Maybe in Chapter 2...

I know, you think I am getting ahead of myself. Paul speaks later about the law no longer mattering in the lives of Gentiles, right? Moving on to Galatians 2, we see a continuation of Paul's concern. Summarizing, he says:

1. Fourteen years after my education, I went to Jerusalem with some friends, and spoke to some leaders of our Way about the bad preaching that seemed to be coming from some zealots. But, even Titus, one of my friends, didn't fall for their teaching that circumcision is necessary for salvation.

2. These zealots thought they were important, but they didn't change my mind about anything that I had learned from Christ Himself, and they could see I was right. My friends and I were doing the same thing for the Gentiles that Peter was doing for the Jews. They shook our hands and encouraged us to continue teaching the Gentiles.

3. I reprimanded Peter when I saw him giving in to the Jews by not eating with Gentiles while the Jews were around. I reminded him that we know that only following the law will not save even the Jews, much less the Gentiles. Only if we truly believe in Christ can we be justified, and then we can accept the grace of God through His gift. If we try to justify ourselves by the law (as if by our own works), without Christ, then there is no reason for Christ's death. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (v. 2:20)"

Now, in Galatians, this means that the Gentiles did not have to be circumcised (Galatians 2:3-4
3But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. 5But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.

). Many will try to turn this into a statement that we should not follow any law, but that contradicts other statements by making them contrary to Paul's own words, and even the words of Jesus Himself. Look at the last line in the box above and remember how sin is determined (1 John 3:4
4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

). If Christ lives in us, would He keep sinning in us if He never sinned in life? If you have any doubts about the subject matter in Galatians, jump ahead to Chapter 5. This is not abrogation of all law, but references to get rid of something that some men (Jews) require in order to be saved (circumcision). The subtitle in my NIV Bible version for Chapter 5 is Freedom in Christ, not Freedom From All Law.

Note that the words of the passages in 2:17-21 speak of how one is justified. This means that we are justified by faith and not by the law. It never says that we now no longer have to obey the law. It is a reference to the fact that obeying the law without that justification by faith will do us absolutely no good.

Not there, maybe here...

Let's move on into Chapter 3. Paul's points here are:

1. Who is confusing you? You didn't have to obey the law in order to receive the Holy Spirit, but you received Him because you believed and had faith! God doesn't save you because you follow the law!

2. Just believe and have faith, as Abraham did when he was ready to follow God's orders and sacrifice Isaac. Obey God, and you will be blessed.

3. Without that faith, you will not be justified by the law, no matter what you do. Be like Abraham - have faith and obey God. Then you will receive the promise.

4. The law does nothing but point out sin, but it is not opposed to the promise of God as it keeps us in line with the will of God. The law leads to the promise, and without faith, that promise does no one any good. The law merely shows us how we should act when we accept the promise of God and Christ. Until Christ came, the law was our guide. But now, Christ in us will guide us and if we follow Him, we no longer need to worry about the law, as we will keep it naturally because it is not opposed to the promise.

5. If we remain in the promise, we are all one body: Jew, Greek, male, female. We all belong to Abraham as heirs according to the promise.

Again, Paul is making it clear that obedience to the law will not save us, but it is not against the purpose of God, as many pastors will lead you to believe. The law is a guide. If you remove it, there are no guides to follow, so each will follow a path of their own choosing. If you doubt this, look at the number of churches with beliefs that clearly oppose each other, all claiming to be the "one true church of Christ". Are you in the right church? How can you tell? The only real way is to follow what the Bible says.

Ah, we must be getting close

Moving on to Chapter 4, Paul's main topics are:

1. As children and heirs of our human fathers, we are supervised until we come of age. During this supervision, we learn the right thing to do in the world. When we become of age, we are ready to go out into the world and act as we were taught with all the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood. This is what a father teaches his sons. Now that we have the Holy Spirit, we have come of age as Christians and ought to act like it as we are no longer in training.

2. Until I came along, you Galatians had been following the false pagan gods and activities around you and had not been paying attention to the real God. Now that you have been introduced to the real God, why do you want to go back to those pagan practices you followed before? Have I wasted my breath? You are good people, but you are being deceived by those trying to pull you back into your old ways. And don't listen to those who are trying to make you into Jews. In fact, if you give in and try to save yourselves by acting Jewish, you will be slaves of their oral law forever. Those who are under the law do not believe in the Christ. Choose whether you will be forever a child of slavery to the Judaizers, or a child of faith.

3. As it was with Hagar and Sarah, one was a slave woman (Hagar) and one was a free woman (Sarah). When I met you, you did not even believe in God, but worshiped beings that are not gods. You were slaves to rituals that meant nothing. You seemed to get my message and believed in the real God. What happened? Why are you returning to those things you believed before? And worse, listening to Judaizers who want to take you away from Christ.

But, you are children of the promise now that you have met Christ. Keep your faith and you will receive the gift of God - eternal life. If you go back to life without Christ, and follow only the law, you will lose that gift.

Slave vs. free

Both Sarah and Hagar had children by the same husband, Abraham. Both were trying to accomplish the word of God in their own way, but God worked out His own plan. The child of the slave woman became the father of what became twelve Arab tribes that included today's Muslims. Sarah's child Isaac started the line that became the twelve Israel tribes. The Galatians, when Paul came along, worshiped pagan beings "that were not gods", so they could not have been believing in the God of the Jews. They were in the middle of pagan Asia Minor. When the "Judaizers" learned of Paul's teachings, they came to try to convert these people to follow their oral and circumcision laws. That was Paul's complaint.

They were already completely pagan when Paul came

Consider the second point listed in the box above. Galatia was located in the middle of very pagan Asia Minor, where Turkey is today, nowhere near Israel. Paul journeyed to the western coast of Asia Minor to establish the churches we read about in his letters. The furthest was some 350 to 400 miles from Jerusalem. It was some 2500 miles from Jerusalem to Rome. The entire world outside of Israel was pagan before the apostles got there, including Rome.

The sea you see at the bottom left is the Mediterranean (Mare Nostrum), and Jerusalem was in the lower part of the area called ARABIA (the left coast on the lower right of the map). Their old practices were pagan and not related to anything remotely Jewish. Therefore, "those weak and miserable forces" (Galatians 4:8-11
8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But now that you know God - or rather are known by God - how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

) were not Jewish practices, regardless of the hype your pastor gives you. The Jews did know God, even if they weren't following Him closely, and these are the same pagan practices that they fell into when they were in trouble with Him centuries earlier.

Paul followed the real law of God

The claim made by modern pastors that they were returning to the Old Testament laws of the Jews just does not fit the situation. The "Judaizers" were now trying to get them to start following the oral law in order to save themselves without Christ, but they were also mixing worship and pagan practices. Paul, a self-proclaimed good, law-following Jew (Acts 25:8
8Then Paul made his defense: "I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar."

, Acts 24:14-15
14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. (Acts 24:14-15 NIV)

), was fighting this action, but never says that anyone should ignore the real law (Temple law from God) - they just needed to stay in the will of God (God's real law, not the oral, modified law of the Jews) and follow Christ (Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."


Paul believed in the law

In fact, in Acts 21:21
21They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.

This is stated better in the Berean Study bible:

21But they are under the impression that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe our customs.
, Paul was accused of telling Jews that they need not follow the law. He very quickly had the whole matter brought before Felix and made the statement that he believed "everything that is in accordance with the Law", which is pretty odd for a man who was supposed to be opposed to the law. He reiterated his stand before Festus in Acts 25:8
8Then Paul made his defense: "I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar."

. Galatians is one of the main books used by these pastors to discount the value of the law for today's Christian. But if you add Paul's statements in Acts, their whole foundation is on shaky ground.

Paul uses the law to identify error, as we should

In fact, if Paul was saying the law is no longer in effect, especially for Christians, what was he talking about in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5
1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father's wife. 2And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

? Do you know where this complaint came from? Look at Leviticus 18:8
Do not have sexual relations with your father's wife; that would dishonor your father.

. If Paul goes back to Leviticus to explain to the Gentiles why something is wrong to do, why would he then complain if others obey the same laws? He was speaking of those who were using the law (usually the oral, tradition, law) instead of believing in the salvation of Christ. He was not telling people to ignore the law that points out sin. When he mentions sexually immoral people in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11
9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people- 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

, he made it clear that he was speaking to Gentile believers who were disobeying God's laws - those same laws that guide the Jews, guide us.

Take it wrong, and then you can do anything you want

Many take these words about the oral law to mean that no law is acceptable and that we answer to only the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Have you ever considered what that means in terms of actions taken? I know "faithful" people who indulge in adultery and claim that the Holy Spirit and Jesus actually approve of the activity because they have no prompting to stop the activity. To them, that is their only guideline, since the "law is gone and we have Jesus in our hearts". If this is what you think we should be teaching the world, then we have a fundamental disagreement. We need rules - not for salvation, but for guidelines to keep us in the will of God (Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."


Drat, running out of Chapters

Moving on to Chapter 5, Paul reminds us of the topic of the letter to the Galatians:

1. Take a stand for the freedom you now have in Christ. Don't go back to the old pagan practices I just mentioned - and do not let yourselves be circumcised! If you do, Christ is of no use to you.

2. You were doing so well, what happened? I have never preached circumcision to you! Treat others as you have them treat you. That is the whole meaning of the commands of God.

3. Live by the Spirit and you will no longer want to do those things of the human nature, sinful things, and will thus stay out from under the law. If you break the law, then the Spirit cannot help you if you continue without repenting.

4. These things include sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. They are against the will and law of God. No one who practices these things will inherit the kingdom of God.

5. Do not revert to denying Christ by being circumcised. Instead you should act to produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Since there is no law against these things, you will then not be breaking the law. Encourage others to do the same.

Again, the base theme is circumcision. That is a symbol that if they feel they can save themselves by following that "law", then they deny their faith in Christ. There is no intimation here that they have no law to follow, as some hold. They are admonished to live in the Spirit and that will keep them in the will of God.

Last chance

Finally, we get to Chapter 6. Ironically, the first sentence refers to actions to be taken if someone is caught in a sin. Well, first off, if you are caught in a sin, then you have broken some kind of rule. That rule is called a law. That is, unless you have a different way to twist 1 John 3:4
4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

, written well after the death of Jesus, so that it means something less offensive. I'm pretty sure that John and Paul are on the same team. Since we can still sin (break the law), Paul speaks of how to handle the sin within the community. If the law has been removed, how can Paul and John say these things? Why would it matter if we sin?

Moving on, Paul's points here are:

1. Be gentle when you handle someone's sin to bring them back into the fold, and don't get caught up in it yourself.

2. Learn from what you are taught by a brother and share the results.

3. You alone are responsible for your actions. Act like one who believes.

4. Don't listen to those trying to get you to move away from Christ. They are only trying to stay popular with those of their group. They don't even do what they preach.

5. Nothing matters to you except being true to the gospel of Christ, and He created the law. If you stick to this rule, you will have peace and mercy. I know because I too have the marks of my love for Him.

Oops, the law is still out there

So, for those who say that Galatians proves that the law is gone and has no effect on Christians, how do they handle Galatians 6:1
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

? If there is no law for us, how can anyone sin? If there is no danger for us, why warn us not to be tempted? What was Jesus talking about in John 5:14-15
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

when speaking to the cripple from the Bethesda pool in Jerusalem? This man was definitely a Christian, yet Jesus warned him to stop sinning or something worse may happen!

How do you sin if there is no law?

One final point before you make up your mind. At the end of time, there is an individual who is supposed to be the wonder of the world, will lead the entire world astray, and will persecute the saints who remain alive at that time. Of the many references to the identity of this individual, the two main ones are "Antichrist" and "the lawless one" (NIV, NLT, ESV, NKJV, NAS, BSB, etc.). Now, what would "the lawless one" mean but that this person did not follow the law of God? (1 John 3:4
4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.


Now, if you are also one who thinks the law does not apply to the Gentiles, then you will be "lawless" yourself, and much more likely to follow what this Antichrist recommends. That's how this guy sets things up so that "The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast." (Revelation 13:3
3One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast.


One concern...

There is a verse that caused me enough concern to do some extra research into this whole matter of the law. Ephesians 2:15
15by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,

sounds very much like a statement clearly saying that the law is indeed set aside. Now, as you can see in the FACT box above, Ephesians was written around 60 A.D., after both books of Galatians and Romans. We have seen how Galatians (discussion above) and Romans (Romans 2:12-16
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

, Romans 3:31
31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

) explain the law, so how does that match with Ephesians 2:15
15by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,

, which was written after both Galatians and Romans? How can Paul say, "For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." and then tell us that the law is gone? Does he change horses in mid-stream? What about Matthew 19:16-19
16Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments."

18"Which ones?"" he inquired.

Jesus replied, " 'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.' "

? Do we just ignore the words of Jesus?

Well, the study notes in my NIV show how one set of translators interpreted this statement in a way that conforms to the rest of the Bible:

2:15 abolishing...the law. Since Mt 5:17 and Ro 3:31 teach that God's moral standard expressed in the OT law is not changed by the coming of Christ, what is abolished here is probably the effect of the specific "commandments and regulations" in separating Jews from Gentiles, whose nonobservance of the Jewish law renders them ritually unclean (cf. Col. 2:13-14). in his flesh. Probably refers to the death of Christ (cf. note on Ro 8:3). one new man. The united body of believers.

What was eliminated by Christ was the dividing wall between the Jews and the Gentiles. Not doing away with our only guide to the will of God, but the Jewish 'add-on' laws that told Jews not to associate with Gentiles. This was to eliminate the need for the Gentiles to act one way and the Jews to act another. They are now the same in that they both follow the will of God in order to be accepted into the Kingdom.

Now, for those who hold that the law is no longer in effect, they must take this explanation to mean that the Jews are now like the Gentiles and no longer have to follow the law. However, that makes the statements in Matthew 5:17
17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

and Romans 3:31
31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

a point of contradiction.

I was told the other day that the Matthew 5:17 fulfilling of the law by Jesus means that the law is now gone. Well, the speed limit on Mill Plain Boulevard near our home is 35 mph. Does that mean that when I drive the speed limit one time, fulfilling the law, that following it once nullifies the law so that it now no longer applies to me? As Paul says in Romans 3:31, "Not at all!"

The law is also a prediction of God's plan for us and that plan included Jesus. The fact that He came fulfills the prediction that let us know that He was to come. There are still predictions that He will come again. Should we forget them as well? No, the law still reminds us that we have a way to act (in the will of God), and we cannot ignore that. The only way to handle the supposed contradiction here is for the Gentiles to recognize the law's guidance as part of God's plan and become "spiritual Israel" (Romans 9:23-33
23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory - 24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25As he says in Hosea:

"I will call them 'my people' who are not my people;
        and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one,"


"In the very place where it was said to them,
        'You are not my people,'
        there they will be called 'children of the living God.' "
27Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:

"Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
        only the remnant will be saved.
28For the Lord will carry out
        his sentence on earth with speed and finality."
29It is just as Isaiah said previously:

"Unless the Lord Almighty
        had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom,
        we would have been like Gomorrah."

Israel's Unbelief

30What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33As it is written:

"See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
        and a rock that makes them fall,
        and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame."

) and heirs (Galatians 3:29
29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

). That is the meaning of doing away with the dividing wall that separated us from the Jews. True heirs inherit what their parents passed down. If the disobedient Israelites "lost" their inheritance because they would not obey God, shouldn't we do what they did not do, yet combine our obedience with faith (Hebrews 4:2
2For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

) and become those who obeyed?

"I'm still confused..."

If all this reasoning is confusing, there is an article at Desiring God called Justification by Faith Establishes the Law that covers some reasons why Paul was addressing a question posed in Romans 3:27-31
27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

. He outlines how some people will argue that this issue is all one way or the other without listening to the real meaning of a passage that includes valid points for both to exist in harmony. Paul said that the law will not save you, but he also said that those who obey the law will be declared righteous (Romans 2:13
13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

). Both faith in the plan of God and the guides He gives to steer us are required. Remove one or the other and you are lost. He combines the issues into harmony with each other.

The law still applies, even to Gentiles

You can't sin if the law no longer applies to you. Yet Jesus, Paul, and James all speak warnings to their brothers in the faith about continuing sinning! This was before and after Christ's death. The constant presence of the law of God is supported by a multitude of other passages in the New Testament. (Acts 24:14
14However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,

) To deny it is to cause contradictions in the word. To ignore the contradictions makes God out to be a Liar. He is not a Liar:

9Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9, emphasis added)

How many is that?

A thousand generations of "commandment-keeping" people is a long time when no one wants to keep them. How many generations have kept them? Notice that it doesn't say, "who love Him and keep His commandments until the time comes when your pastor says they don't matter".

It's all well and good to take a stand, but using a Biblical reference to a book (Galatians) that does not support your claim is deceptive and disingenuous. Most know that a statement about "only following the law will not get you saved" is not saying that we no longer have to follow any law. Also, the converse, saying that you can be saved "only if you have faith in the Lord" does not mean that you can then disobey God and be saved anyway. If you have faith, you will obey. If you claim faith, but then do not obey, you are answering the Lord's question in Luke 6:46
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"

, with the statement "Because I don't want to do what you say, but I want you to save me , anyway."

Go ahead, try to spin it for the rest of us.

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Law Discussions ::

Response to the Law discussion


After reading all the main pages from this site, one pastor responded with the response below.

If you have faith in Jesus, the law has no use for you. The law is gone for the Christian.

Response from a Baptist pastor:


I, along with the Apostle Paul, uphold the law. Rom 3:31

And how does Paul say to uphold the Law? He says the law is good IF we use it lawfully, properly. 1 Tim 1:8-11

The Law was given to make us aware of our sin. Rom 7:7
It was also given, having made us aware of our sin, to point us to the answer. Gal 3:23-26

Having then come to the answer, He, Christ, has become our sin and we have His righteousness. 2 Cor 5:21

Since we have died with Christ, Rom 6:3,4, we have died, and have been released from the Law, Rom 7:1-6, to serve in the newness of the Spirit. 2 Cor 3:3-11

We who are righteous (in Christ) now operate in the (Holy) Spirit by faith. Rom 8:1-8; Gal 5:16-25; Eph 2:11-18; Rom 8:26-29; Eph 5:1,2; 15-18.

This response was followed by a five-hour verbal discussion of these and other points. To see the results of the discussion, and my responses, see Response to the Law discussion, listed in the menu at the center of this page.