An Impossible Annulment

MAIN POINT OF PASSAGE (in one sentence): Grace, not obedience, validates our faith in Christ.

APPLICATION FROM THE PASSAGE: If we put obedience before grace, we invalidate our faith.


At the Baptist university I attended, it was common practice to put on your “Sunday best” for lunch in the dormitory dining hall, even if you had not attended a worship service that morning. Sometimes after attending a Presbyterian service, I would change into shorts, a t-shirt, and a hat just to see who would accuse me of being a “bedside Baptist.” At times it seemed that the act, or at least the appearance, of church attendance was more important than one’s actual faith! But in my relationship with Christ, I, too, have allowed Christian traditions to validate my faith to others. In today’s verses, Paul clarified to the Galatian Christ-followers what truly validated their faith and why.

  • As you look back on your journey with Christ, what would you say validates your faith in him?


15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.


(Today’s questions focus on verses 15-18.)

  1. According to Paul, what could not happen to a human covenant that had been ratified (vs. 15)?
  2. In verse 16, what did Paul clarify about the promises God made to Abraham and his offspring?
  3. What summary did Paul make regarding the law (vs. 17), from the human example provided in verse 15?
  4. Why is it important that the inheritance given to Abraham came from God’s promise and not from the law (vs. 18)?
  5. Since God’s grace came before your obedience, how does that impact your relationship with Christ and those you share him with?

RESPOND TO GOD (115 words)

God’s promises validate our faith, not our obedience. If we place obedience before grace, we invalidate our faith. Attending a Sunday worship service, meeting with a small group, memorizing Scripture, and even serving others nullifies our belief when it is ranked higher than God’s grace. Our message to others about Jesus must start with God’s promise, or our message undermines the priority of God’s redemptive plan. When we allow grace to precede obedience, we realize God’s commands are for both his glory and our best interest. Others see God’s heart for them as we prioritize grace before compliance. Grace is what first validates our faith to a lost world.

  • Thank the Father that his promise takes priority over your obedience.
  • Seek his forgiveness for the ways you place your obedience before his grace.