What then is the Purpose of the Law?

I have been singing “Praise God who came to the earth, whose love is like a mighty flood”.I have a picture in my mind of a flood, water pouring down everywhere – covering everything – out of control. what is a flood? I ask myself. A flood is where something is given in superabundance – in water it covers everything, apparently out of control.

“My love is like a flood, only in that it covers everything in superabundance – washing away all evil and opposition.” I see the world in the time of Noah – water covering the world in judgement. “Yes My love includes judgement – my love covers everything, but it is only apparent to those who have a spiritual perception – even in the evil of the world I am there controlling it – for the purposes of My love. So receive My love and perceive it everywhere around you in what you can see – But remember it is not only for you, it is for you to pass it on and share it – My community should show each other love so that they are bound together -inseparably – setting aside and forgiving all differences – everyone in My kingdom has a different personality – so these differences have to be overcome through the power of My Spirit – in the full expression of My love.”

In Galatians 3:19 Paul asks a vital question “what then is the purpose of the law”? He feels it is necessary to set the record straight, because up to now he has been making a strong case that we are under God’s promise and not the law and the reader may be asking himself this very question, if the law is ineffectual or even harmful what then could the purpose be in God giving the law which dominates the Old Testament? So in 3:19 – 25 Paul seeks to answer this question. This is a vital part in understanding Paul’s argument in Galatians and the rest of ch 3 and ch 4 go to illustrations which are intended to enable the person who is steeped in the Old Testament to understand what he has said in these few vv. So why don’t you read these vv and ponder over them, asking Jesus to help you understand them completely.

So here are a few comments to help you think. The words of John Stott are helpful: “The function of the law was not to bestow salvation, however, but to convince men of their need of it. Satan would have us prove ourselves holy by the law, which God gave to prove us sinners”.

In short we would not know what sin is if it wasn’t for the law (Romans 8:7). So once the law was given we were held prisoners by it, locked up until faith should be revealed. Gal 3:23.

What does that actually mean practically? When we are under the law we are constantly being made aware of the need to obey it perfectly. So for instance, as Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount: If you so much as look with lust at someone you have already committed adultery, if you say something bad about someone, you have actually committed murder etc. so in vs 24 Paul says the law was put in charge of everyone like a school-master to lead us to the realization of the need for believing in the promise given to Abraham and put in effect through Jesus’ death on the cross, so that when we believe we are no longer slaves but heirs to Him and His inheritance, like true sons and daughters.

So from a practical point whenever we go back to trying to please God by obeying the law we are putting ourselves back into prison. The Christian now sees each law as a promise, so when the law says “Thou shalt not commit murder” the promise says “Though will no longer commit murder”. Paul is going to emphasize the real freedom that comes with the gospel later, but this is the basis of it. The end of the letter gives much more practical advice as to how we should live this freedom, but now we need to realize the reality and the mechanism of it.

So what is Jesus saying to you? What is your relationship with the law?

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