Paul associated New Testament believers with the covenant God made with Abraham. He said, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:6-7). The importance of Paul’s connection was that it meant Christians would inherit the blessings that were originally intended for the nation of Israel. The blessing Paul was referring to can be found in Genesis 15:4-7 where it talks about God’s promise to Abraham. It says, “And behold, the word of the Lord came unto him saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now towards the heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD: and he counted it to him for righteousness. And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.”
Paul’s declaration of the Christian’s expected inheritance stressed the importance of faith. Paul used the word faith, or pistis in the Greek, 20 times in the book of Galatians and the word pistis appears 13 times in the third chapter of Galatians alone. The Greek word pistis is derived from the verb peitho (pi’-tho) which means “to convince” (G3982). Therefore, having faith is really just about being convinced that something is true. Genesis 15:6 says that Abraham believed in the LORD, meaning Abraham was convinced that God was telling him the truth. The truth that Christians have to be convinced of is that Jesus died for our sins. Paul stated, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14).
A critical point in Paul’s explanation of justification by faith was his statement, “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Galatians 3:22). What Paul was getting at was the requirement for a person to be a sinner in order to be saved. Some people do not believe they are sinners and therefore, cannot be saved. This was particularly true in Jesus’ day because the Pharisees had led people to believe that it was possible for them to keep the Mosaic Law. Jesus repeatedly pointed out that God’s standard was perfection. In one of his encounters, a young man claimed to have kept all of God’s commandments since he had reached the age of accountability. “Jesus said to him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:21-26).