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Galatians 3

We become right with God only because we believe him

1 You Christians in Galatia are fools! Someone has taught you to believe crazy ideas! I showed to you so very clearly how and why Jesus Christ died on the cross. 2 I want you to think about the reason why you received God's Spirit. You did not receive him because you were trying to obey the Jews' rules. No, instead you received him because you believed the good news. You heard the good news, and you believed it. 3 You have begun by God's Spirit. So, you should not try to continue by your own human power. You should not be such fools! You can never become completely as God wants you to be by human power. 4 You have had so many difficulties and troubles that have taught you so very much. You should not throw away what you have learned as a result of all these troubles. 5 God gives his Spirit to you. And he does special things among you that surprise people. But he does not do these things because you obey the Jews' rules. No, he does them because you believe the good news. You believe the good news that you have heard.

6 Think about Abraham. ‘Abraham believed God. As a result, God accepted Abraham as right with him’. 7 So, the people who believe God, they are Abraham's children. This is what you need to understand. 8 In the Bible it says that, at a future time, God would make the Gentiles right with himself. He would make them right with himself if they believed him. And so, the Bible told this future good news to Abraham. ‘I will be good to people from all countries because of you,’ God said. 9 So then, God will be good to all those people who, like Abraham, believe him.

10 But God will punish all those people who believe only in the Jews' rules. Those people think that, by those rules, they can become right with God. But those people will have to be separate from God. It says in the Bible: ‘God will punish everyone who does not always obey all the rules completely. Everyone must be careful always to do everything that is in the book of the Jews' rules’. 11 It is clear that nobody can become right with God by the Jews' rules. It is clear because it says in the Bible: ‘The person that I have accepted will live. Those people will live because they believe in me.’

3:11These words from Habakkuk are also in Romans 1:17 and Hebrews 10:38. It is very important to believe God. See also Hebrews 11:6.

12 But the Jews' rules do not make it important to believe God. Those rules are not about that. No, instead it says in the Bible: ‘The person who obeys all these rules completely will live by them’. 13 As a result of the Jews' rules, God would have had to punish us. God would have had to make us separate from himself. But Christ bought us, to make us free, because God punished him on our behalf. It says in the Bible: ‘When people hang someone on a tree to kill him, that person must be separate from God.’ 14 Christ did this so that the Gentiles could receive good things from God. They could receive, by Jesus Christ, what God had promised to Abraham. So then, if we believe Christ, we can receive God's Spirit. We can receive the Spirit that God promised.

The difference between the Jews' rules and what God promised

15 My friends, I will use an example from what people do. When two people make a proper agreement in the correct way, nobody else can change that agreement. Nobody can take away the power of that agreement, nor can anyone include any extra words in it. 16 In the same way, God promised things to Abraham and to Abraham's grandson. It does not say in the Bible ‘to your grandsons’. That is, it does not mean ‘to many people’. No, instead it says ‘to your grandson’. That is, it means ‘to one person only’. God promised those things to one person, and that person is Christ. 17 What I mean is this. God had made an agreement. He had promised to do what he had said. Then, 430 years later, God gave his rules to Israel's people. But those rules could not finish the power of God's agreement. Those rules could not stop what God had already promised. 18 We can receive what God gives to his children. But it is not as a result of the Jews' rules that we receive it. If that were true, then we would not receive it as a result of God's promise. But God gave it to Abraham because he had promised to give it.

3:16See Genesis 13:15 and Genesis 24:7.

19 So we could ask: Why did God give his rules to his people? He gave those rules to them to show them which things were wrong. God gave those rules until Abraham's one special grandson came. That was the grandson to whom God had given his promise. God used angels to give his rules to a man, Moses. God spoke to Moses, and Moses gave God's message to the people. He was between God and the people. 20 But God gave his promise to Abraham by himself alone. It was not necessary to have somebody in between like Moses.

3:19The Jews believed that God sent angels to Moses at Mount Sinai. See Exodus chapters 19 and 20, and Acts 7:38, 53.

The purpose of the rules that God gave to Israel's people

21 So, perhaps someone could say that the Jews' rules are working against God's promises. No, certainly that is not true! If any rules could have made people alive to God, then God would have given those rules to people. Then those rules would really have made people right with God. 22 But it says in the Bible that all the people in the world are like people in prison. Sin keeps all people in prison. So then, we can only receive what God has promised by Jesus Christ. God gives what he has promised to every believer in Christ.

23 But before we believed Christ, the Jews' rules kept us safe. Those rules kept us safe, like people that someone had locked into a safe place. Those rules kept us safe until God showed Christ to us. God showed us that we must believe Christ. 24 So, the Jews' rules were like our teacher, who kept us safe. Those rules led us to Christ. So then we could become right with God because we believed Christ. 25 But now that we do believe Christ, the Jews' rules do not have authority as our teacher any more.

Sons of God

26 All of you are God's sons because you believe Christ Jesus. 27 All of you that God baptised into Christ have put on Christ. You have put on Christ, as someone puts on new clothes. 28 You are not different from each other any more, because you are all united together in Christ Jesus. Whether you are Jews or Gentiles, men or women, slaves or free people, all of you are united in him. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's grandchildren. So, you will receive everything that God promised to Abraham.

3:29When God ‘baptises’ us into Christ, he ‘puts us into’ Christ. He makes us completely united with Christ in our spirits. So, in our spirits, we die with Christ and then we rise again, to live with him. So we have a new nature, a new life, because of Christ. See also Romans 6:1-4 and Colossians 2:12.