63. What is the relationship between law and faith?

The Apostle Paul who had been a zealot – a Hebrew fanatical religious leader; like the modern day religious police, enforcers of religious duty and laws – writes from the freedom he has now experienced in Jesus Christ, reminding his audience that they are descendants of Abraham who was given a promise of blessing 430 years before the Mosaic Law was given. He contrasts the life he has experienced in the two religious paradigms (worlds).

Paul states in Galatians 3 verses 6-26, that the law was given to Moses (Musa) because of the sins of the people. Their specific sins were idolatry and unbelief. They did not trust God to take them into the promised land and give them victory over their enemies who were idol worshippers. Paul states that if the Law can save us then Abraham would not have been saved by God because he lived 430 years before the Law was given to Moses. So what is the purpose of the law? The law was a schoolmaster to teach us how inadequate our own efforts to be righteous are. The law was added because of sins. The Law could not impart life and those under the Law were being held in custody or prison, and kept from the faith that was to come later through the ‘seed’.

What is this ‘seed’ that would come later? This ‘seed’ would fulfil the Law and give us faith. The Law is a curse that stops us from being men and women of faith. Paul states that from his very thorough study of the Torah in the Old Testament, that Jesus Christ is the ‘seed’ who has redeemed us from the curse of the Law. The Hebrew culture taught that everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed.

The promises given to Abraham were given to his ‘seed’ and not ‘seeds’. This promise Allâh made to Abraham was to a specific ‘seed’ and not many people. Through the ‘seed’, the people of God, and the Gentiles would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith, trusting in God to give them the Spirit of God who would give them the gift of faith. Jesus Christ is the promised ‘seed’. Through His sacrifice the curse of the Law was broken forever through His act of taking the cursed position on the cross at Calvary. Jesus Christ set all those who would trust in Him free from their inability to keep the Law and stay away from sinning. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin so we will always turn to the sin breaker in faith (Jesus Christ) and trust in His atoning work.

The question then arises, Were Abraham and Moses unable to be saved by Allâh? God forbid that we should think or say such a thing. Abraham was saved by his faith in Allâh. Allâh made a way of escape for Abraham by providing a ram caught in a thorn bush for a sacrifice instead of His only son, Isaac.

Moses was saved by his faith to see God deliver the Hebrews from slavery in the land of Egypt, and so they escaped in due time.

Did the Law invalidate the Abrahamic Covenant? No! God gave his promise of blessing to Abraham and his descendants to make them a blessing to all future generations by a promise otherwise known as a Covenant. The Law was a tutor to show our need for faith in Allâh’s saving power. Jesus came to save us and that was why surah 3 ayah 45 states that Mary had to call her son, Jesus, meaning Saviour, and Messiah, meaning Anointed One. Jesus said in Matthew 5 verse 17: ‘I have not come to destroy the law but to fulfil it.’

Paul concludes that we are all sons of God/Allâh through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus wiped out the curse of the Law because we were unable to live up to its high standards because sin ruled over us. We had no option but to allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sinfulness and repent and turn to the Lord. When we do this the curse of death is broken over our lives and we will participate in the resurrection of the dead. What a blessing Allâh has given to us to pass on to everyone we meet.

The Qur’an teaches that faith is essential to a relationship with Allâh. In surah 2 ayat 26-28 it states: ‘Those who believe know that it is a truth from their Lord, but those who reject faith say: ‘What means Allâh by this similitude?’ By it He causes some not to stray except those who forsake the path. Those who break Allâh’s Covenant after it is ratified and who sunder what Allâh has ordered to be joined and do mischief on earth. These cause loss to themselves. How can we reject the faith in Allâh? Seeing that ye were without life. He gave you life; then he will cause you to die, and He will bring you back to life; again to Him will you remain.’