Exposing Our Needs
- Saturday, March 01, 2003
Certainly the law of Moses did regulate the lives of the Jewish people. But it did not, could not, and never would provide spiritual life to the people. If life and righteousness could have come through the law, then Jesus Christ would never have had to die on the cross. It was the "worship of the law" that led Israel into the self-righteous religion of works which led, ultimately, to the rejection of Jesus Christ. Paul writes, "Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law" (Galatians 3:21).
Statement two: The Law was given to reveal sin.
Paul writes, "But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe" (Galatians 3:22). Law and grace cooperate, helping the lost sinner come to Jesus Christ. The law shows the sinner his guilt. Grace shows the sinner the forgiveness which he can have in Jesus Christ.
Do you get the picture? That's exactly what the law is. It is a mirror which shows us a picture of ourselves. We look into it and we see our ourselves. Our face is dirty. But if you look into a mirror and see that your face is dirty, you don't then wash your face with the mirror, do you? The cleansing comes through the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.
The law is useful to reveal our sin to us. The law is useless in providing salvation. All of us have sinned. And all of us may be saved by grace. It's not a matter of pick or choose. The law shows us our need, and it points to Jesus Christ.
Statement 3: The Law was given to prepare the way for Jesus Christ.
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Galatians 3:23-27)
Perhaps there's a practical way to try to explain this. It comes out in the phrase of Galatians 3:24, "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith."
In the Greek world there was a household servant called the paidagogos. This person was not the schoolmaster. This person was usually an old and trusted slave of high character who had long served the family. This person was in charge of the child's moral welfare. It was a duty of this person to see that the child of the family stayed as much as possible out of temptation and danger so as to have the opportunity to grow up into a fulfilled adult. Each day this person accompanied the child to and from school. He didn't actually teach the child. It was his duty to get him to school, delivering him safely to the teacher.
Paul is saying that the law has this kind of a function. The law is there to lead us to Christ. It is not there to take the place of Jesus. The law shows us that we are incapable of righteousness. Our very sense of failure leads us to Jesus in awareness that we are not dependent on law but on grace. To push the analogy a bit farther, the slave was not the child's father. He was a child's guardian and disciplinarian. He was a kind of custodian or high class babysitter.
The law did not give life to Israel. Instead, it regulated the life of Israel. The Judaizers taught that the law was necessary for life and righteousness. Paul is saying that they are in error. The work of the guardian was preparation for the child's maturity. Once the child came to maturity, he no longer needed this guardian. For the law was a preparation for the nation of Israel until the coming of the promised Seed, Jesus Christ.
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