Friday, September 21, 2012

The Purpose of the Law

Sometimes the scripture raises more questions than answers. When a question jumps out at me it turns me into a detective and I pull out my concordance and the cross references in my Bible get a workout. I love that because it helps me to look past the immediate verse to the whole scripture.
This verse started one of those searches and I’m not sure I’ve found a correct answer. But it’s a start.

Jesus said the law of Moses won’t disappear until its purpose is accomplished. So what is its purpose?

In Galatians 3:19, Paul writes that the law was given to show us our sin. Okay, I get that. I know I’m a sinner because I know the law, which gives me something to measure my actions against. The better I know the law, the more clear it is that I break it.

But Jesus also said the purpose of the law won’t be accomplished until heaven and earth disappear. So until Jesus returns, the law will go on showing people their sin. Here’s where it gets confusing. Paul said the law was designed to last only until the coming of Jesus. In Galatians 3:25, Paul says that we no longer need the law.

Obviously I need to do more research. What he actually says is that we no longer need the law to be our guardian. 

It’s not the purpose of the law to make us right with God. It can’t because we can’t keep it perfectly. But it is part of the Good News. The law and the promise of a savior go hand in hand. The law shows us our sin; the promise frees us from it. 

In Galatians 3:23 Paul says that the law put us in protective custody before Jesus came. It put a guard on our actions to restrain us. Now that Jesus has come we no longer need the restraint because He has freed us from sin. 

So why did Jesus say the law won’t pass away until He comes back? 

This is where I might be stretching my understanding, but I think that the law helps us to live the way God wants us to. In Galatians5:13-14 Paul tells us not to use our freedom to live however we want. Instead we are to serve each other with love. That’s the royal law we read about in James2:8. Jesus said that all of the law and prophets hang on this commandment and the about loving God with all our being. (Matthew 22:38-40

So . . .

Because I’ve been saved, I’m no longer slave to the law. But the law is still there to show me how God has intended me to live. It shows me how to love God and my neighbor. 

God wants me to use my freedom to live the intention of the law.

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