“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.” (Galatians 3:19 NKJV).
Many religious folks today, like the Jews of old, are using the law wrongly for the purpose it was not intended for. The Jews stumbled because they were bent on using the law as a means of righteousness, to earn or obtain salvation from God.
Sadly, many religious people today are also stumbling because they are striving to keep the law in order to earn or merit God’s love, acceptance, favour, or blessing (Rom. 9:30-32, 10:1-4).
The Scripture clearly teaches that the law was given primarily to serve as our tutor, guardian or schoolmaster until the coming of Jesus Christ, the Saviour. The law was not designed to be our saviour, justifier or deliverer.
God does not intend for us to remain under the custody, tutorship or guardianship of the law He gave Israel through Moses after He had given us grace and truth through His Son Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
Paul aptly states this truth.
23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. Let me put it another way.
24 The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.
25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. (NLT).
The purpose or ministry of the law as our tutor, guardian or schoolmaster ended at the cross of Jesus Christ. God does not intend for the born-again believers, the new creations in Christ, to live under the burden of the Jewish laws, sacrifices, ceremonies or rites.
4 For Christ is the end of the Law [the limit at which it ceases to be, for the Law leads up to Him Who is the fulfillment of its types, and in Him the purpose which it was designed to accomplish is fulfilled. That is, the purpose of the Law is fulfilled in Him] as the means of righteousness (right relationship to God) for everyone who trusts in and adheres to and relies on Him. (AMP).
The believers in Christ are not expected to serve God in the oldness of the letter of the law but in the newness of the Spirit of grace. Why?
Because we have become dead to the law through the body of Christ and thus delivered from the law (Rom. 7:4-6)!
In the first part of this piece we began to explore from the Scripture God’s intentions or purposes of sending the law to be our tutor, guardian or schoolmaster until the revelation of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, Justifier, Redeemer and Deliverer.
First, the law is intended by God to show us His moral values and standards of holiness:
As our tutor or schoolmaster, the law is ordained by God to clearly teach, reveal and present to us God’s demands and standards which because of our inherited sin nature we can never keep or measure up to (Lev. 19:2, 1 Pet. 1:15-16, Matt. 5:48).
Not only does the law clearly present God’s demands and standards of holiness to us, it also clearly states and reveals God’s wrath and penalty for transgression.
While the law itself is holy, just and good; it cannot make any man holy, just and good. Why?
Because that is not the purpose of the law!
The Scripture amply attests to this truth.
19 For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. (NLT).
21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. (NKJV).
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. (NKJV).
Second, the law is intended to reveal to us our utter bankruptcy, sinfulness, or wretchedness:
God’s intended purpose of the law as our tutor is to expose the sin that is embedded in our fallen nature. While the law itself did not bring sin, however, it brings to us the knowledge or consciousness of sin.
Paul testifies to this truth.
20 For no man will be justified in God’s sight by works of the Law; for through the Law comes the consciousness of sin.” (MNT).
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” (NKJV).
Before God gave the law to the Jews through Moses, sin was already at work in them but they were completely blinded to their sins. It was the law that exposed their sins. It was through the law that sin became exceedingly sinful.
13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. (NKJV).
Although sin has already beaten, enslaved, and killed us, yet we didn’t realize it. Until the law came we never knew how depraved, sinful, wretched or bankrupt we were from birth. It was the law that exposed the sin that was embedded in our fallen nature from the womb.
This is why the Scripture states that the law was added because of transgressions and that the strength or power of sin is the law. Without the law, sin has no power to exert over us!
19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. (NKJV).
1 Corinthians 15:
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. (NKJV).
Lastly, the law is intended by God to humble us, shut our mouths and make us plead guilty before Him.
Before God gave men the law, men were proud, thinking that they could merit, earn or deserve God’s love, acceptance, favour, or blessing by their self-righteousness, performance or good works.
But, when God gave us the law and none of us could keep God’s law perfectly, completely and constantly without stumbling in one point, we all became guilty before God. It was the law that humbled us before God and placed us at God’s mercy.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (NKJV).
The law was given to us to stop our boasting about our self-righteousness, performance or good works before God. It was the law that made all men to become guilty before God, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23 NKJV).
The law was not given to help us in our struggle against sin but to give sin an occasion, opportunity or advantage over us. The law gives sin strength over us and brings all men under guilt, condemnation and death. You can never obtain justification by the works of the law!
Paul clearly reveals this truth in his epistles.
11 Sin took advantage of the Commandment to deceive me, and used it to bring about my Death. (TCNT).
1 Corinthians 15:
56 It is sin that gives death its sting, and it is the Law that gives sin its power.” (TCNT).
Beloved, the law was not given to help you to overcome sin, but to strengthen sin against you so that you may realize your utter sinfulness, wretchedness and helplessness, and then cry out to God, saying, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24 NKJV).
You can never overcome sin through the law, for “the strength of sin is the law.” (1 Cor. 15:56 NKJV). Neither can you ever be justified through the law, “for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” (Gal. 2:16 NKJV).
That is not the purpose of the law!
The law is intended to show you God’s demands and standards of holiness, to expose your inherent inability to meet God’s demands and standards, and to condemn you for failing to meet God’s demands and standards, so that you may humbly cry out to God for mercy and wholly put your trust in the Saviour, Jesus Christ, who God has sent to save you.
Has the law fulfilled its intended purposes in your life?
Or are you still striving to use the law for the purpose it was not intended for?
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending the law as my tutor to reveal my depravity and show me my dire need for a Saviour. Today, I put my whole trust in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ. I confess Jesus Christ today as as my Saviour and Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.