The Word for today:
mark this: Galatians 3:24
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
“The law” is a big subject in the Bible and it can be confusing. But it doesn’t have to be.
First, let’s boil “the law” down to the 10 Commandments. They are immutable (unchanging) standards. It doesn’t matter what century or culture or church you’re in; they’re the law.
God often demonstrates his spiritual precepts in the physical realm, because a picture is worth a thousand words. Thus God has ordained certain immutable physical laws, as well. Let’s take gravity, for instance.
You may go ahead and test gravity. Gravity will pass the test. You may defy gravity, and for a while you might seem to get away with it. (Witness the long jump in a track and field meet.) But…
The story is told of a man who jumped off the Empire State Building. When he went by the 50th floor, a man looked out the window and asked, “Well, how is it?”
The falling man replied, “So far, so good.” That’s because the 50th floor is not where the law enforces itself.
So in the end, we don’t break the law; the law breaks us. Fifty more floors and the man found out that so far wasn’t so good.
Our voting rights might engender the delusion that “law” respects our opinions. This is as much a madness as if we were to vote to suspend gravity. As the kids say, “Good luck with that.”
God doesn’t care what the USA, or Lithuania, or Argentina, or Peewee’s Playhouse decide about the law. We can all draw up a constitution, but His Law is The Law of the land whether we acknowledge it or not.
That may sound harsh, as if God is interested in showing us who’s boss. But that’s not the point at all. The law wasn’t given to show us who’s boss; it was given to show us who’s Savior:
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
The law expresses what man ought to be. Man was weighed in the balances by the Ten Commandments and found wanting. Then–as if the 10 Commandments needed emphasis–our gentle Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, ratcheted up their severity to the nth degree:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-29)
Was Jesus condemning us to hell? Absolutely not! He was revealing to us that we sin, that we fall short of the glory of God (1)–that there is a wide gap between God and us. But he doesn’t present a problem without a solution. He goes on to show us the bridge over the chasm:
I am the Way…
Jesus the Lawgiver in the Sermon on the Mount was pointing to Jesus the Savior on Mount Calvary. The law, then, did not pronounce my death sentence. Jesus’ plan, from the foundation of the world, was to stand in our stead. Thus he was pronouncing his death sentence, instead.
The Law was never meant to save. James tells us that the law is just a mirror; it shows our faces are smudged. But we can’t wash our faces with a mirror.
The Law was never able to save. Paul tells us the law is just a tutor, taking us by the hand to lead us to Christ.
So I thank God for the law, because I would never have found the cross without it.
(1) Romans 3:23