Example of a promise- If someone offered you a million dollars and you could have it by one of two methods, which method would you choose?

1. I will give you a million non-transferable dollars now, if you believe that I will actually do it.
2. I will give you a million non-transferable dollars at the end of your life if you never do anything wrong, and always do everything right, for your entire life.
3. The choice is obvious. The promise must be received, but it is received as a promise, not a reward.
4. If I change the rules/conditions after making the promise, then I am untrue to my word.

I. A Promise Is A Promise Vs. 15-18

A. Everyone Understand That

1. V. 15- Brethren, I speak in the manner of men-

a. Paul used a well-known civic truth to illustrate his point.
b. Once a legal agreement was made from one person to another, it couldn’t be cancelled or added to.
c. If that was true with men, how much more true was it with God?

B. God Made A Promise

1. V. 16- God’s promises to Abraham and to his “Seed”.

a. The promises made to Abraham seem to be on two levels: Physical and spiritual.
b. We see promises made to give land to Abraham’s descendants.
c. We also see promises made to Abraham and to his “Seed” to bless the whole earth.

i. If blessings to the entire earth were to flow from all of Abraham’s descendants, then this would have included Ishmael, the first son of Abraham.
ii. Instead, the promise to bless the entire earth would come from one branch of Abraham’s offspring, Isaac. Then thru Jacob and not Easu. Then through Judah and not the other 11 sons, etc. Later on thru Jesse, David, then Solomon, etc., until you come to Jesus.

d. Promises made to Abraham alone: Genesis 12:3; 18:18
e. Promises made to Abraham and his “Seed”: Genesis 22:15-18; 26:4; 28:14 (repeated to Jacob)
f. This promise was made not only to Abraham, but also to/about Jesus the Messiah. The Father made a promise about/to the Son about his future mission.
g. There were no “ifs” in the promises made to Abraham and his “Seed”. Unilateral.
h. Guzik- This means that promise of a land (Genesis 12:1; 13:7; 15:18-21), a nation (Genesis 12:2; 13:16; 17:4-6; 22:17) and of a blessing (Genesis 12:2-3; 22:18) stands eternally to Abraham and his descendants, though spiritually the promise of a blessing comes to every nation through Jesus, by faith.

2. Vs. 17, 18 – Abraham was called righteous in Genesis 15:5. 14 years later, the rite of circumcision was given. 416 years later the Law of Moses was given.

a. A promise is a promise. God didn’t cancel or add conditions to His promises.
b. So then, Abraham was justified by faith, and thru Christ, blessings would come to all nations of the earth. All this would happen apart from the Law.

II. If The Law Can’t Save, Then Why Do We Need It? Vs. 19-22

A. To Retrain Man From Sin

1. V. 19- The law was given to restrain man from sin, not to bring justification.

a. It is a written code that outwardly declares that which man knows in his conscience

2. V. 19- till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made-

a. Man unsuccessfully sought to approach God through the Law, but now man can approach God through Jesus, who kept the Law, and assigns His righteousness to those who believe in Him.
b. Mankind can now approach God through the imputed righteousness of Jesus.

B. The Promise Was Definitely Not The Law

1. When you think of mediation in business or in a court setting, you think of two parties trying to come to an agreement. They are trying to settle on what they will both agree to do regarding an agreement, and there is a mediator to help them reach an agreement
2. When God gave the law to Israel, he did it through a mediator: Moses

a. The law is always an “if/then” type of agreement.
b. Obedience=blessings; disobedience= cursings.

3. But when God made a promise to Abraham, it was one sided; unilateral.

a. It just needed to be believed, not earned.

4. V. 20- Guzik- “The law was a two-party agreement brought by mediators. Salvation in Jesus by faith is received by a promise”.

C. The Law Is Not Against The Promise Of God

1. V. 21a- The law doesn’t work against the promise of God re. justification.

a. The law doesn’t oppose the promise of God.

2. V. 21b- If the Law could have provided a way from man to be saved, then it would have stood as God’s option to man.

a. The problem is that man cannot keep the Law of God, therefore the law cannot bring man into a righteous standing with God. It only leaves man guilty.

D. Rather, The Law Leads A Man To Believe The Promise Of God

1. V. 22a- Confined all under sin-

a. When man understands the requirements of God’s perfect, holy law, he will understand that he is guilty before God.
b. He will no longer seek to come to God based upon his performance.
c. He will understand that his failure to obey God leaves him “confined under sin”.
d. He is trapped in his predicament, with no self means of escape or rescue.
e. Not only is man trapped in his guilty situation, he is trapped in his guilty condition.
f. Morris- “Sin is personified as a jailor, keeping sinners under its control so that they cannot break free.”
g. Guzik- Some protest, and say “I’m not a prisoner to sin.” There is a simple way to prove it: stop sinning. But if you can’t stop sinning, or ever have a record of sin, then you are imprisoned by the law of God.

2. V. 22b- “…that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe”.

a. Martin Luther- “When the Law drives you to the point of despair, let it drive you a little farther, let it drive you straight into the arms of Jesus who says: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’”
b. Only faith can break us out of our confinement to sin. The Law of Moses can show us clearly our problem and God’s standard, but it cannot give us the freedom that only Jesus can give. The freedom is given to those who believe.