Passage: Galatians 3:15-29
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
In Galatians 3:15-29, Paul “re-stories” the Galatians with the gospel, reminding them of the history of their redemption and the roles of God’s promise and God’s law in it all. He does this to help the Galatians—and us today—grasp that God’s blessing has always come to us through an unconditional promise, and not through our own works.
First, Paul reminds the Galatians of the timing of his unconditional promise to Abraham. God promised to bless Abraham’s distant “offspring” (Jesus), and to give him an inheritance, before the law was ever put in place. The law, which came 430 years afterwards, did absolutely nothing to change that promise which God had already made (3:15-18). We should rest, then, in the assurance that God’s desire to bless us, through our connection to Jesus, is entirely based on his grace. God promised to do everything required to give us this blessing, and this inheritance—and sure enough he did.
Second, we need to understand the purpose of the law. Why, we might ask, would God introduce a law at all, if he’d always promised to give us an inheritance by grace (3:19)? The law was given to us, both as guardrails—curtailing people’s worst tendencies until Jesus came—and as a mirror—showing us our own sinfulness and need for grace. The law, then, performs important functions, but it has no power in and of itself to transform our hearts, or make us into new people who truly obey God and love others (3:21).
What will transform our hearts? Only Christ. When we “put on” Christ by faith (that is, by relying on him in trust), and wear the new identity he gives us like clothing, being fully immersed in it, we will begin to see every area of our lives change (3:25-27). More than that, if we “put on” Christ by faith, then we belong to him, and we therefore stand to freely inherit all the blessing that God has promised to Jesus (3:29). What grace is ours!
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide:
Re-read the passage(s): Galatians 3:15-29
Take Hold of the Promise (3:15-18)
1) INTRO: Has someone you love ever given you a comforting promise that has stuck with you to this day? If you’d be up for sharing, what was that promise? What continuing effect has it had on you?
2) Re-read Galatians 3:15-18 and meditate on these verses together. Consider:
· What point is Paul trying to illustrate in this section about the promise vs. the law?
· How does the “human example” of a “man-made covenant” serve as an illustration of Paul’s point to the Galatians? (vs. 15)
· How does the timing of the promise to Abraham vs. the giving of the law also serve to highlight Paul’s point? (vs. 17-18)
3) Is there a time in the past few months when you’ve found yourself doubting one of God’s promises to you, or living as it he is not a gracious God? How so? What would it look like to trust God’s promise to you in this area?
Take Hold of the Purpose of the Law (3:19-24)
4) Re-read Galatians 3:19-25, where Paul seeks to explain the purpose of the law, and meditate on these verses together. Consider:
· What does it mean that the law was “added because of transgressions” (vs. 19)?
· How did the law “hold us captive” (vs. 23) and “imprison” us? What does it mean for the law to “be our guardian” (vs. 24-25)? What implications does this have for how we understand the purpose of the law?
5) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby said that the law works like a mirror, showing us how sinful we are and the true state of our hearts. Can you think of a time when this happened to you recently—when a specific command from Scripture, or description of how God’s people ought to live revealed to you the depths of your own sin and selfishness? What was it? How did this show you your need for God’s grace?
6) Re-read Galatians 3:21. In the sermon, Pastor Bobby made clear that while the law reveals our condition to us, and even acts as “guardrails” to curtail our worst sinful tendencies, it has no actual power to change our hearts. What are some of the subtle ways that we mistakenly believe, and act as if the law actually does have the power to change hearts? Where, for e.g., do we do this:
· In our church leadership?
· In the way we seek to make disciples?
· In our parenting?
· In our friendships?
· In our workplace?
Put on Christ (3:25-29)
7) Re-read Galatians 3:25-27. Why does the coming of Christ, and faith in him, mean that we no longer need a “guardian” (the law)?
8) Re-read Galatians 3:26-27. In the sermon, Pastor Bobby said that to “put on” Christ is to “dress ourselves up” in his work on our behalf, and to “wear him” as our character in every setting we’re in. What does the imagery of putting on clothes communicate about what it means to have faith in Jesus? How does this enrich our understanding of what it means to be a Christian? How does it enrich our understanding of how sanctification (growth in the faith) happens?
9) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby said that just as we wear our clothes everywhere we go, so we “bear Christ” with us in every sphere of life. Is there an area or sphere of your life right now where you have not been “putting on Christ”? What would it look like to “put on Christ” by faith in this area of your life? What difference would it make?
10) Re-read Galatians 3:27-29. What is the impact on a community when its members all “dress up” in Christ? When have you experienced a community like this? What is most appealing about it to you?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.