The Law, our Guide

"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”  But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 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. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise." - Galatians 3:1–29

    The Law of God is immensely important to the Christian. As a reflection of the holy character of God, it is the guide for how men ought to treat each other, settling their differences fairly and loving each other appropriately. Scripture tells us in several places, not the least of which in the passage we are looking at here, that the law is designed to show us sin, to point us to Christ, and to tutor us in holy conduct. It was never designed to redeem, but to show us the mercy and perfection of the redeemer.
    The importance of the Law cannot be overstressed, but it can easily be misunderstood. From the Antinomian who believes that the law is completely invalid today to the Phariseeism found in some modern churches requiring near perfect law keeping to be considered a member in good standing, men have consistently misapplied and misunderstood the purpose and function of the Law of God. Paul here critiques the Galatian christians who had fallen prey to men who tried to sneak the requirements of the Old Covenant in under the guise of faith. These men misapplied the law and misunderstood its purpose.
    So what then is the purpose of the Law? Paul here does not give us a full answer, but much can be learned by the blessed Apostles teaching. We see that the law was not given to bring life, it can only bring death on those who violate it. The Law was given because of the sin of man, to curb evil until the promise given to Abraham could be fulfilled in the promised offspring. It was given to mankind as a guardian, a tutor, to show us the holiness of God and the horror of sin. A shadow of God Himself, it guided mankind and revealed the evil of our nature that is easily hidden from view.
    How can the Law be useful to us now? If it was given to curb sin between the promise given to Abraham and the coming of Christ, is a curse to us all who break it constantly, and was a guardian to the faithful until Christ (who has come in the flesh), then ought we not simply abandon the Law entirely? Certainly not! Christ Himself tells us that He came not to abolish the law, but rather to establish it. (Matt 5:17). Christ is not only the perfect Lawgiver, but He fulfilled it in His earthly life by His conduct amongst men. He was perfectly loving, just, wise, righteous, and fair. He kept the law in every way in His worship of God, perfectly loving and obeying His Father.
    As Paul confirms, the Law is not contrary to the promise of God. It is an intricate part of the work of conforming us to the image of His Son. In it's holy precepts we see the mind of God, how He intends us to treat each other and order our priorities. It guides nations in their execution of justice, holds men accountable for the severity of their actions, and shows men their sin and need for the perfect work of a Substitute. We, like our Lord and His apostles, ought to emulate the Law and write it on our hearts. Set it on our minds and use it as a guidepost to govern our conduct amongst our fellow sons and daughters of Adam. As we are ever more conformed to the image of Christ we will see our character change and mold until the law is built into our very being. May God continue to use His holy law to shape us and show us Christ.
Topics: Churchianity
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