Introduction: Have you ever wrestled with the question of why God
says “I the Lord do not change” ( Malachi 3:6), yet it seems that the
God of the Old Testament is a lot different than the God of the New
Testament? The talk of an “Old Covenant” and a “New Covenant”
surely sounds like a change. God has changed the terms of our
relationship! Paul argues that God has not changed His basic
approach to humans – and that approach is righteousness by faith.
Let’s plunge into our study of Galatians 3 and find out more!

  1. The Bewitched!

    1. Read Galatians 3:1. Assume you are sitting at the
      sidelines listening to Paul saying this to the Galatians.
      Should they be insulted?

      1. If so, why? (Paul says they are acting like “fools”
        and like those under the influence of evil. “You
        stupid devils.”)

      2. Is this how Paul would address those who today
        believe that they can be saved by their own actions?

    2. I’m reluctant to call fellow church members “stupid
      devils,” so Paul must have had a very good reason for
      calling them fools. What reason does he give in Galatians
      3:1? (They had seen him explain about Jesus being

      1. Think about this. Why does the crucifixion of Jesus
        make the Galatians’ position stupid? Or, demonic?
        (Why would God die a painful death at the hands of
        His creation? The thought is absurd on the face of
        it. Only when you see that we were crucified with
        Jesus( Galatians 2:20)to satisfy the requirements of
        the law, does it seem stupid and demonic to think
        that our efforts mean anything.)

      2. Let’s use an extreme example. You carve an idol out
        of a block of wood, then you bring it offerings
        every morning to have it forgive your sins. Is that
        stupid? (Yes! You made it.)

        1. Is that demonic? (Satan wants us to ignore or
          disbelieve that Jesus died for our sins. So,
          yes, this is demonic – especially it has us
          claiming to be doing God’s work.)

    3. Read Galatians 3:2-5. Okay, stupid people, Paul says, I
      have one question for you. We see now that Paul must be
      a lawyer, for his “just one thing” turns into several
      questions! Questions for which he would like smart

      1. Does the Holy Spirit come by obeying the law or by
        believing in what Jesus said?

        1. Let me ask my own question here. Has the Holy
          Spirit come into your life? If not, could it
          be because you are taking the wrong approach?

      2. After having the Holy Spirit come into your life to
        lead you, do you think that you can do a better job
        of leading yourself?

      3. If you have been persecuted for your faith, do you
        want to throw it all away?

      4. Do you see miracles in your life because of
        obedience to the law, or because of the power of God
        working through faith?

        1. Let me ask a couple of questions here. Do you
          see miracles in your life? If not, could it be
          because you have the wrong approach?

        2. When you talk to your children, are you focused
          more on the law or on the Holy Spirit?

          1. If you have teen-aged children, try
            sitting down with them and asking them
            these questions and how they would answer
            and how they think that you would answer.

          2. If you are not seeing miracles in the
            lives of your children, is it because you
            have been hammering the law rather than
            the power and grace of God? (I know I used
            to say to my children all the time “obey!”
            My father used to say, “You are Don
            Cameron’s sons, act like it!”)

      5. The previous four questions I have paraphrased from
        Paul are rhetorical questions – which means they
        have an obvious answer. The person asking the
        rhetorical question is not looking for your answer,
        they are looking for you to see the obvious point.
        What is Paul’s obvious point? (The power of God, and
        not observing the law, is the source of a powerful
        Christian life.)

    4. Let’s stop and review Paul’s arguments for righteousness
      by faith. His argument in chapter 1 is that Jesus
      directly gave him his message of righteousness by faith
      alone. His claim in chapter 2 is that the church leaders
      agreed with him, even though putting it into practice
      took a little time, and some, like Peter, would
      occasionally get off the right track. His argument at
      the beginning of chapter 3 is to consider how God
      operates in our own lives.

  2. The Abraham Example

    1. Read Genesis 12:1-3. What is Abram’s role in the history
      of our planet? (He is the beginning of a special group of
      people through whom God was going to bless all the people
      of the earth.)

    2. Read Galatians 3:6. Why would Paul turn to Abraham as an
      example? (Paul is saying that from the very beginning of
      God’s special relationship with a specific group of
      people (for the purpose of promoting God’s will),
      righteousness by faith was the rule.)

    3. Let’s look at this story just a minute. Read Genesis
      15:1-6. Is this a story about Godliness? About
      righteousness? (God told Abram ( Genesis 12:3) that he
      would be the instrument through which all the earth would
      be blessed. Part of the mechanism for this was (Genesis
      12:2) that Abram would have many descendants. If God
      told you that you would have the largest church in your
      neighborhood, and that large church would be the source
      of blessings for the neighborhood, what would you do?
      (Start a church!)

      1. Why does that not work for Abram? (Abram is probably
        working on having a child. But, the point is that
        Abram must first trust God to make it happen. He
        must realize that this is God’s work and God’s
        responsibility. Abram has no power on this own to
        do it. Indeed, when Abram and Sarai cook up a plot
        to do this on their own (Genesis 16) it is a

      2. Does this story of Abram help us to better
        understand righteousness by faith? (God is not
        asking us to go to sleep in our Christian life. He
        is asking us to put our confidence in Him. It is His
        work. It is His Spirit. We cannot do it on our

    4. Read Galatians 3:7-9. Is Abraham, the great father of the
      Jewish race, also our father? (This is Paul’s merger
      argument. The God of the Old Testament has this
      unchanging approach to humans. The scope of His special
      people has broadened – praise God for merging the
      Gentiles with His special people – but the basic plan has
      not changed!)

  3. The Curse

    1. Read Galatians 3:10. I don’t know about you, but I get
      worried when people start throwing around curses. Why are
      legalists not just wrong? Why are they cursed? (Read
      Deuteronomy 27:26. If keeping the Sabbath, refraining
      from stealing, killing, coveting and adultery are your
      key to salvation, then you are cursed. Why, because you
      cannot do these things. If you say that doing any of
      these things is necessary for salvation, then you have
      condemned yourself!)

    2. Read Galatians 3:11-12. Do the righteous live by
      obedience to the law? (No. They live righteously by

    3. All of this makes me squirm. I don’t want to be cursed,
      but I do keep a close eye on the law. Deuteronomy 6:8
      says “tie [the commandments] on your hands.” I recently
      started wearing a bracelet on my wrist that has the Ten
      Commandments on it. Read Galatians 3:13. Why is it that
      we must not rely on obedience to the law to be saved?
      (Jesus already did it for us. Jesus was cursed so that we
      would not have to be cursed for our failure to obey the
      law. Not only that, Jesus paid the penalty for His curse
      – and therefore for our curse.)

  4. The Old and New Order

    1. Read Galatians 3:14. Do we have to worry about keeping
      the law (including the Ten Commandments)? (No. Instead,
      we must have the Holy Spirit live in our life!)

      1. If you are also squirming now, notice that the
        parallel is to Abraham. Did Abraham have to worry
        about having many descendants? Did he have to worry
        about Jesus being born of one of his descendants?
        (No! All God asked of Abraham was to trust Him. To
        believe Him.)

      2. Has anything changed in the relationship between
        humans and God? (Not since Abraham! Abraham
        believed in the promise – which included Jesus
        coming to take our place. We believe that the
        promise has been fulfilled and we accept the gift by

    2. Friend, will you step away from the curse, and rest alone
      in the righteousness that comes to you by faith in Jesus?

  5. Next week: The Priority of the Promise.