The Consequences of Relying on the Law for Salvation
The Apostle Paul's writings in the book of Galatians highlight the critical distinction between salvation through faith in Christ and attempting to achieve righteousness through adherence to the law. This article examines the profound implications of relying on the Law for salvation, drawing insights from various passages in Galatians and other related scriptures.
The Curse of Reliance on the Law
Galatians 3:8-14 CSB
Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and proclaimed the gospel ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you.  Consequently, those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith.  For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed.  Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.  But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them.  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.  The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Falling from Grace and the Importance of Faith
Galatians 5:1-6 CSB
For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.  Take note! I, Paul, am telling you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all.  Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to do the entire law.  You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace.  For we eagerly await through the Spirit, by faith, the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.
Justification Through Faith in Christ
Galatians 2:14-21 CSB
But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews?”  We are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners,”  and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.  But if we ourselves are also found to be “sinners” while seeking to be justified by Christ, is Christ then a promoter of sin? Absolutely not!  If I rebuild those things that I tore down, I show myself to be a lawbreaker.  For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God.  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.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
Staying True to the Gospel
Galatians 1:6-9 CSB
I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—  not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!  As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!
The Severity of Disregarding Christ's Sacrifice
Hebrews 10:28-30 CSB
Anyone who disregarded the law of Moses died without mercy, based on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, who has regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know the one who has said, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge his people.
The Only Choice is the Gospel
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 CSB
It is clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering,  since it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you  and to give relief to you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels,  when he takes vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  They will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from his glorious strength  on that day when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at by all those who have believed, because our testimony among you was believed.
The writings of Paul in Galatians, coupled with related scriptures, emphasize the pivotal nature of faith in Christ for salvation. Relying on the law, seeking justification through rituals, or deviating from the true gospel can lead to falling from grace and facing eternal consequences. The message is clear: salvation is attained through faith in Christ's redemptive work, and any attempt to substitute it with legalism or distorted teachings risks severing the divine connection.
Questions that Challenge Your Current Understanding
- Galatians 3:10 says "all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse." How does this challenge common perceptions about achieving righteousness through adherence to the law?
- Galatians 2:21 raises the idea that if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ's death was in vain. How does this emphasize the importance of Christ's sacrifice for our salvation?
- Given that there were those trying to distort the Gospel even during Paul's time, how can contemporary believers discern between genuine teachings and misleading interpretations?
- 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 warns of eternal punishment for those who don't obey the Gospel of Jesus. What does it mean to "obey the gospel," and how does this differ from simply adhering to the law?
- In light of all the passages studied, how can believers guard against the temptation of legalism or ritualistic practices, ensuring that their salvation is rooted in genuine faith in Jesus Christ?