Last week I shared with everyone how the covenant of grace actually preceded the law of Moses with Abraham and the blessing of Abraham. This week I am continuing my series on the book of Galatians by talking about the purpose of the law of Moses and how it fits into the covenant of grace. When the law of Moses is used properly, it fits in with the covenant of grace, but when it is used improperly then it becomes the wrong tool for the wrong job and can cause more harm than good. So let’s take a look at the passage in Galatians 3:15-26
The Law And Grace
Galatians 3:15-26 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of s one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
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. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
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. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
If God started the promise of grace with Abraham and if grace was His final plan for mankind then why did He give the law to Moses? Paul answers this question in verse 19. Paul says that it was given because of man’s propensity for transgression. He gave it to keep man in check until Jesus came. In essence it was a stop-gap measure until the solution was able to be implemented.
God’s plan all along was that relationship with Jesus would be the solution to man’s transgression problem but until that relationship could be established, the law would keep man from going off the deep end. That is why God gave the law to Moses.
Is The Law Contrary To Grace?
So if grace was and is God’s plan for man, and that relationship with Christ is the way to be right with God and grow in God, is the law somehow contrary or against grace? Paul answers this question in verse 21. He tells us that the law is not a replacement covenant to grace and the promise given to Abraham. He tells us that no one can receive life from following the law. Because no one can receive life from following the law, then it cannot be a replacement covenant to grace. Instead it is a tool that brings us to the realization that we need grace.
Here is where most people get confused or do not understand concerning the purpose of the law. They try to use the tool of the law improperly. They use it to bring conformity to an accepted pattern of behavior and a litmus test of spirituality. They believe that the closer someone conforms to the law, the more spiritual they must be. The law cannot bring spiritual life. In fact, the law brings the realization that we are spiritually dead. (Romans 7:10)
This is why most churches and most pastors are not filled with life. They are using the law improperly. They are using it on those that have already been made to realize that they are sinners in need of grace and have placed their faith in Jesus and have relationship with God. They are the ones that the law has already served it’s purpose with.
The Right Tool For The Right Job
The Apostle Paul in verses 24-25 tells us that the purpose of the law was to be a teacher that leads us to faith in Christ. It’s purpose was to reveal to us that we are sinners that are unable to be holy enough to be in relationship with God and that we need Christ to be our holiness for us. The law drives us to relationship with Christ. It leads us to Jesus. After we are led to Jesus, the law has served its purpose. From the point that we became those that trust in the promise of grace, we have graduated from the school of the law. We have our diploma.
So the law is for those that have yet to come to Christ, accept relationship with God, and have faith in the promise that God made to Abraham and fulfilled in Jesus. The law needs to be used on the unsaved and unbelieving. It is the tool that God uses to bring people to Christ. They still need to be reminded that they are guilty of their sin. They still need to realize that they need a savior. They still need to be kept in check so that our society does not run amok.
I believe that when we use the right tool for the right job, we will see much more effectiveness in our churches and our lives where we are trying to reach the lost for Jesus.