Justice or Mercy

We like to feel that we have a hand in earning our rewards. We like to feel that we deserve the good things that we get.  However, the Bible is clear that the laws of cause and effect would leave us all impaled or immolated.  The Bible is strict with regard to God’s righteousness. He is good and nothing that humans do can be said to be good in the way that God is.  In this way there is nothing that we can do to contribute to our acceptance by God. We are not cute, lovable, fluffy little bunnies that deserve petting.  We are not fine upstanding members of the community.  We are refuse and garbage.  We were designed for grand purposes, but we lost our way.  The ideas that we can behave our way into God’s good graces needs to be left behind.

Galatians 3:1-14

1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?[a] 4 Have you experienced[b] so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[c]

 7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[d] 9So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[e] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[f] 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[g] 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[h] 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.


  1. What is Paul’s concern?
  2. How does he make his case?
  3. Why does Paul say, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree?”
  4. How would we live if we truly thought that our actions did not have value of themselves?
  5. What then should be of ultimate value to us?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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