TO CHEW ON: "What purpose then does the law serve?" Galatians 3:19
Paul attempts to dissuade the Galatians from reverting back to living by the Jewish law. His argument includes some facts about the law. Embedded in those facts are ways that the law is inferior to faith.
1. The law makes us aware of sin (without giving us a way to deal, finally, with sin). I love how clearly the Amplified puts it: "It (the Law) was added—later on, after the promise, to disclose and expose to men their guilt…" - Galatians 3:19 AMP.
2. It was given by angels and Moses (while faith came through the "Seed," Jesus). The Amplified again: "…and [the Law] was ordained through angels and delivered to Israel by the hand of a mediator [Moses, the mediator between God and Israel, to be in effect] until the Seed would come to whom the promise had been made" - Galatians 3:19 AMP.
3. The law was complementary to the promises of God, not contrary to them. Though it couldn't give life, it led to Jesus fulfilling it and offering His life in our stead - Galatians 3:21,22.
4. Paul pictures the law as a set of rules that has people under arrest, in jail to sin, guarded by the law, which no one could ever completely live up to: "But the Scripture has imprisoned everyone [everything—the entire world] under sin..." Galatians 3:22 (AMP); " But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law" - Galatians 3:23 NKJV.
5. The law is also a tutor or trainer to prepare its adherents for full privileges as sons: "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ..." Galatians 3:24
What do these things have to do with us who have never struggled with the pressure of living under the Jewish law? Some things that come to mind:
- Viewing the Galatians' struggle between law-based versus faith-based righteousness helps us understand God's plan and His gradual revealing of it.
- The contrast between law vs. faith helps us appreciate the immensity of what Christ did on the cross.
- The comparison between the two also gives us an understanding of how living by faith is better than living by law.
- We are warned of the danger of getting enslaved by any set of laws.
I love the way Paul concludes his thought, one verse beyond today's prescribed reading: "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ" - Galatians 3:26.
By faith we're not guilty and helpless to change, not jailed as prisoners to a set of rules we can never fulfill, not students under discipline and training, but have the privileges of family, called God's very sons (and daughters)!
PRAYER: Dear Father, help me understand at a life-level how Your death and resurrection has set me free from earning my salvation by fulfilling any set of law requirements. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)