I have been making the point that when God speaks, what He says is law. Faith comes by hearing, therefore, faith establishes the law because faith carries out what God said.
But what about Galatians 3:2, 5, 12?
In verses 2 and 5, the same point is being made–do you get spiritual blessing by “the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
The main problem with Israel’s failure is that they didn’t think keeping the law had anything to do with faith. First, they thought that being given the law was already proof they were God’s people. Therefore, they assumed they were going to heaven just because God gave them the law.
Second, when Israel did pay attention to the law they felt they could do it just fine. They went about to establish their own righteousness by attempting to keep the law without any aid from God. In other words, why bother with faith when we can do it ourselves just fine?
One of the law’s main points is to demonstrate our failure. The law’s insatiable appetite for pointing out failure is to drive us to faith, the schoolmaster that brings us to Christ. Israel didn’t think they needed a suffering Messiah who would be wounded for their transgressions. We have the law, we don’t need God!
Galatians 3:12 says, “And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.” Doing the externals of the law doesn’t require faith, even heathen scum can do law-abiding, good-looking things. Just because you nailed a couple law points means nothing.
We don’t live by doing the law, as Paul says in the phrase right before this quote, “The just shall live by faith.”
Faith is living on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. It’s a dependence upon Him for sustenance; not an “I aint hungry, I already ate.”
I think the confusion arises when people depend more on the words themselves rather than the One who spoke them. Israel boasted in the law and forgot who spoke the law. They got so enamored with themselves and their abilities, they forgot God.
Gentiles do the same, as we’re all cut from the same cloth, we all have feet of clay, we’re made from the same pile of dirt. We boast about our religious looking, good deed affirming duties and never think of God at all.
The dependence is on us rather than God, and this is the opposite of God’s point. The people of Galatia missed this, as they emphasized their external duties they thought made them look good.
We mess it up today in the opposite direction–making it about us and our non-law-keeping, do nothing Christianity. We prove our non-dependence on God by not adhering to what He says.
We’ve swung from one stupid extreme to another. Both are wrong. We are justified by faith and the just live by faith and faith comes by hearing God’s Word, which results in His gracious provision to form us into the perfect man Christ Jesus and creating us as new creations to do good works. It’s a beautiful thing when understood.