For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Abraham took God at His word to bring about the greatest blessing of all time. God promised that through Abraham, all nations would be blessed. God made a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15) to seal that promise. Covenants are binding promises. When two people in the ancient world made a covenant with one another, an animal would be sacrificed and both parties would pass through the divided animal. This was to effectively say, if I fail to keep the covenant, then may I face the same end as this animal. The covenant between God and Abraham had one significant difference. When God made His covenant with Abraham, only God’s presence passed through the divided animal (Gen. 15:12-20).
When God confirmed His promise to Abraham, Abraham believed God, and therefore God considered him to be righteous (Gen. 15:6). It is important to note that Abraham was not inherently righteous. His belief in God did not make him righteous, but his faith meant that he was credited with righteousness. This righteousness was never about Abraham upholding the law. If that were the case, God’s promise could not come to fruition. Instead, it was by faith that Abraham was credited with righteousness.
This remains true for us, as Paul reminded the New Testament believers. Our adherence to the law has no power to bring about the promises of God. It isn’t dependent on us. We follow the words and ways of Jesus because He has already proven Himself faithful to His covenant promises. Righteousness has always been a matter of faith. Thanks be to God that even when we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13).
● How does this truth challenge your view or understanding of God’s character? What is true about His nature—both for Abraham and for us?
● Is it hard for you to believe that God’s promises are fully dependent on Him and not our own efforts? Explain.
● Thank God for His covenant faithfulness. Thank Him that our righteousness is not based on our ability to uphold the law. Ask for the strength to remain faithful, even when it runs against our own nature.