April 5: Union With Christ Frees Us From Bondage to the Law.

Galatians is a book all about the Law and the Spirit. We who have begun by the Spirit should not go back to the Law. As we move forward in Galatians 3, let’s take a look at a few more verses that explain the purpose of the Law.

Galatians 3:19a. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made

Remember, Paul just told us that we have been set free from the curse of the Law. Well if the Law brings a curse then why would God enact it in the first place? Paul says that it  was “added because of transgressions.” You see the Law (or law) doesn’t make you sin, it just reveals the Sin that is in you already.  The law does not reveal salvation, it only reveals the problem. The promised offspring (Jesus) revealed salvation.

Galatians 3:21-22. Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 

Did the Mosaic Law nullify or replace the promise of Abraham (justification through Christ)? No! So what was the role of the Law? In verse 22 Paul tells us that one role of the Law was to be humanity’s prison guard. The scripture (Old Testament) reveals that we are all locked up in the prison of sin.

Go back and read something from the Old Testament. You don’t have to read far before you find someone/everyone sinning. In fact in the Torah we see a distinct pattern of people sinning and then God adding laws, and then more sinning, so more laws, etc. The Law served to keep the people aware of their sin, and thus locked up in their sin. Again, it didn’t cause sin- the Sin is already in us. We are not simply sinners. We are prisoners to Sin and the law makes this clear.

Galatians 3:24. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 

The second role of the Law was to be our guardian or tutor. In the Roman family this was a slave that kept watch over the young children until they grew up. In a Roman household a young son had no rights. He was watched over and even beaten by the tutor. The tutor never took his eyes off of this child. Like the prison guard metaphor, under the tutor of the Law, we have no freedom.

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Tim Keller points out that this kind of “non-gospel religion” is characterized by a) a sense of bondage, b) an impersonal relationship with God, c) motivation of only rewards and punishments, d) anxiety about one’s standing with God.

Do these sound like you?

In Christ we are set free from the prison of Sin and Law. When the young son reached a certain age, they would be set free from the tutor. In a process called manumission, the young son would come of age and would be granted the name, honor and even clothing of the Father. He would no longer need permission for access to the Father, and he would inherit the wealth of the Father.

“To Live Is Christ” frees us from the bondage of Law, and the impersonal motivations of reward and punishment. And it brings us into a life of relationship with God forever by the indwelling divine life of the Son through the Spirit.

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