Though Christians often think of the book of Romans when Martin Luther and the doctrine of justification by faith come to mind, Luther himself claims to have fixated upon Galatians, calling it his very wife. At the heart of this important letter, Paul quotes Lev 18:5 and says, “The law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them’” (Gal 3:12). In my latest article, I try my hand at explaining what Paul intends to communicate by quoting Lev 18:5. A summary of my conclusion runs as follows:
When Paul cites Leviticus 18:5 in Galatians 3:12, he is identifying how the Mosaic law-covenant, characterized as it was by “works of law” and not believing, brought death to all and that, therefore, “the law is not of faith.” The call to “do in order to live” set a context for Christ’s complete, whole-life obedience, even to the point of death (Rom 5:18–19; Phil 2:8), but that same call should have pushed sinful people to turn away from “doing” as a means to righteousness and life (see Lev 18:5; Deut 6:25; 16:20) and to start “believing” in the provision of right standing and empowerment God supplied through substitutionary atonement (see Rom 9:30–31; cf. 10:4). The Mosaic law-covenant bore a ministry of death and condemnation (2 Cor 3:7, 9), characterized as it was by a hard-hearted, faithless people pursuing righteousness apart from faith. All those in Christ must turn away from “works of law” to faith in Christ, because “it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law” (Gal 3:11; cf. 2:16).
To read the full article, click on this PDF, and enjoy knowing that both the Old and New Testaments agree that Christ, our righteousness, has fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic law.