The third chapter of the Book of Galatians is particularly powerful for me. In particular, in this chapter, Paul explains the place and purpose of the law in God’s plan. It was not to bring righteousness through obedience to requirements. If the law could not make one righteous, then obedience could not either. Paul goes on to explain that righteousness would come because God had promised as much to Abraham and by extension all of humanity. What God had promised was assured by God’s capability and faithfulness; it was independent of man’s obedience to any requirements whatsoever, because obedience only applies where there is law. Given the ineffectiveness of law keeping as a route to righteousness, God promised grace. Grace has no requirements. It cannot be earned, made effective, or nullified by man. What God promised to Abraham is irrevocable, based exclusively on the power and faithfulness of God alone.
This picture of the law accords perfectly with the entire tenor of the OT scriptures. The Jews under the law sought righteousness by obedience, and they failed miserably despite being nurtured directly by God. If we are to learn anything from the Bible, surely one lesson is the inability to be righteous by obedience. I can rely on being faithful, or I can simply trust in God’s faithfulness. One I know is a sure miss; the other is a sure thing.