Does Galatians 3 teach that the Law of the Ten Commandments is abolished?


Even though many professing Christians believe that the Ten Commandments are no longer binding on us today, and although some Biblical “scholars” quote, amongst other Scriptures, the book of Galatians as evidence for such assumptions, the Bible totally rejects and disproves such ideas.

In fact, if you are a truly converted Christian, you have received the Holy Spirit of God, dwelling in you, and through the Holy Spirit, you have received the love of God (Romans 5:5). The love of God is defined as keeping the commandments. 1 John 5:3 says: “For this IS the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” Paul tells us that “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). Love does not do away with it; quite to the contrary, it FULFILLS or KEEPS it. Rather than thinking that the Ten Commandments have been abolished, God’s Holy Spirit in you reveals to you that they are still binding for you, and God’s love in you will motivate you to KEEP them.

One good way for a person to determine if he has really responded to his call to repentance and conversion, is to analyze and examine himself to find out whether he is willing to keep ALL of God’s Ten Commandments–including the Seventh-Day Sabbath. If a person believes that these laws are no longer required and that he is “free” to ignore or break them, then it is extremely unlikely that he is truly converted, and that God’s Holy Spirit dwells in him. If this applies to you, then you need to pray to God that He may open your understanding to the truth, REPENT of your errors and sins; ACCEPT and BELIEVE IN the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ; understand that Christ DIED for YOUR transgressions of His LAW; and become baptized to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. To help you, please read our free booklets, “And Lawlessness Will Abound” and “Baptism–A Requirement for Salvation.”

Some teach and believe that you will automatically do what is right, if you have God’s Holy Spirit living within you–and that you do not need “rules” to tell you what to do. First of all, this concept is a contradiction in terms. If God’s Holy Spirit “tells” you to do what is right and how to live a “holy” life, then it tells you to keep God’s Law of the Ten Commandments, as God’s Law is “holy, just and good” (Romans 7:12). For instance, Paul explains to us in Ephesians 6:1 that it is “right” that children obey their parents, continuing that such conduct is in conformity with the “first commandment with promise” (verse 2).

Secondly, you don’t know, by yourself, what is right. In fact, God chides those who live by their own standards, doing what is right “in their own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8; compare Judges 17:6; 21:25). You might think, if you “love” your neighbor, you won’t do him any harm, but that is a false assumption. With that rationale, people have killed others in war; they have aborted their unborn children; they have engaged in “alternate lifestyles”; and they have committed fornication and adultery (after all, isn’t it “love” to have an “affair” with a “misunderstood” or “unloved” woman?). Without God’s love in you, you don’t really love God, either. People may think they do, but, again, they are wrong–and so, they have created idols for themselves, believing they serve God thereby; they have created their own weekly “day of worship” and their annual religious holidays; and they have trampled God’s Sabbath under foot, thinking that God does not care whether we keep it or not. Man’s “love” is a misguided counterfeit of the true love of God, which, we repeat, is DEFINED as KEEPING the commandments of GOD!

The apostle James silenced those who claim that we today do not have to keep all of God’s Ten Commandments. We read in James 2:8–12: “If you really fulfill [that is, keep] the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep [or, fulfill] the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.”

James tells us that we sin if we break just one provision of the “whole” law. He makes it clear that the “law” he is talking about is, in fact, the Ten Commandments. He illustrates this point by selecting two of the Ten Commandments—the law against murder and the law against adultery. He explains to us that, if we violate even one of the Ten Commandments, we are still a “transgressor of the [entire] LAW.”

How, then, are we to understand Galatians 3?

In Galatians 3:17–19, 22, 24–25, Paul states the following: “And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator… But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in [of] Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe… Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

Does this passage teach us that the Ten Commandments have been abolished, as some claim? Does Paul even have the Ten Commandments in mind when he talks about the “law” that “was added because of transgressions”?

In order to understand this passage properly, we must recognize that the Bible sometimes uses the word “law” for just a portion of the entire law system. We must consider the context of the particular passage in order to ascertain whether the word “law” refers to the entirety of God’s law system, or just a portion, and if just a portion, which portion. We do the same today in human affairs. We might say, “the law requires you to do this or that,” and we may be speaking about a particular provision in the Civil Code, or the Criminal Code, or some administrative law.

We learned from Galatians 3:17 and 19 that “the law” was “added” “four hundred and thirty years” after God’s covenant with Abraham. This “law” was added “because of transgressions.” We also learned in verse 22 that the Scripture confined everybody “under sin.” Sin is the transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4, Authorized Version). The physical law referred to in Galatians 3 was added because people had sinned—because they had transgressed God’s spiritual Law (Romans 7:14) of the Ten Commandments.

Paul’s use of the word “law” in the third chapter of the book of Galatians then does not relate to the Ten Commandments at all, but to an altogether different set of rules–the sacrificial law SYSTEM which was added some time after Moses had brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt (compare Jeremiah 7:21-23).

Paul uses the same language in Romans 5. A careful analysis shows that he speaks there, again, about two sets of law–the Ten Commandments and the sacrificial system which was ADDED because of sin. In Romans 5:12-14, Paul says: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin [death came through sin, because death is the penalty for sin, compare Romans 6:23], and thus death spread to ALL men, because ALL SINNED–(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. NEVERTHELESS death REIGNED from Adam to Moses…).”

Notice carefully, and don’t be deceived by those who teach falsely that the Law of the Ten Commandments has been abolished. Paul says here that ALL sinned; that all incurred the DEATH penalty BECAUSE they had sinned; and that there is no penalty if there is no law. THEREFORE, SINCE there was a death penalty, there had to be a LAW. But then, Paul says that that situation already existed before the “law” was in the world. How clear–he is talking about TWO different sets of law! The law which came into the world had to be different from the law which already existed from the time of Adam.

Paul continued in verse 20: “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound.” What law entered? What law was added? NOT the Law of the Ten Commandments, which was in force and effect since Adam, but the sacrificial law system which “entered” or was “added” more than 430 years after Abraham’s covenant with God.

The Bible does not contradict itself. One Scripture does not “break” or “make of no effect” another Scripture (John 10:35). A law was added because of transgressions. This law cannot be the Ten Commandments. Rather, because people had transgressed the Law of the Ten Commandments, an additional law was given to the people. Paul’s statement that the law was added because of transgression (Galatians 3:19), and that a law “entered” the world AFTER sin and death were already in the world (Romans 5:12-14, 20), refers to that part of the physical law which has to do with sacrifices and other rituals. Because the people had sinned by transgressing the spiritual LAW of the Ten Commandments, as well as those statutes and judgments which embellish those righteous commandments, ANOTHER “law” was ADDED and came into the world — the temporary physical law dealing with sacrifices and other rituals.

Professing Christians are deceived, as is the rest of the world (Revelation 12:9). If you think you are free to break God’s Law, you ARE deceived–no matter what Christian group or denomination you may claim to be a member of. “Christian” commentaries of worldly scholars add to the deception, by concocting ridiculous “explanations” in their terrible desperate attempts to contradict the clear and timeless message of Jesus Christ, which is beyond debate for those who are willing to believe and OBEY their Master. Read for yourself Christ’s words in Matthew 19:17: “But if you want to enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS.”

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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