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Friday, May 19, 2006

The Law Our Schoolmaster

THE LAW – OUR SCHOOLMASTER
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Galatians 3:24


The objective of the law is clearly set forth in Scripture. Both its function and its purpose are identified. Those who believe in works for salvation have a skewed view of the purpose of the law much like the Jews of the first century. Really the only difference between the two groups is the Jews (ancient legalist) emphasized circumcision while the modern day legalist emphasizes baptism. In both cases there is a tragic misunderstanding of the purpose of the law. They both believe to one degree or another that obeying the commandments can merit salvation. To this premise the Scripture lends no support. The law was never intended to be an instrument of salvation. To the contrary the law was provided to reveal our need of salvation through the commandments. It was provided to manifest the consequences of not having salvation through the judgments. And it was provided to point the way to salvation through the statutes.

The important thing to keep in mind is that although the ultimate purpose of the law was to bring us to Christ and as a result we no longer live in fear of the judgments and have no need of the statutes, the commandments remain an accurate and relevant expression of God’s will concerning what is right and wrong, evil and good, righteous and unrighteous.

The law is in every respect our schoolmaster. A schoolmaster was one who was charged with the rearing of a child. He was responsible for the child’s development intellectually, socially, and religiously. The schoolmaster was constantly watching over the child that had been committed to their stewardship. It was the schoolmaster that was responsible for the development of the child. Likewise the law serves the same function in the hearts of men. Where the law is not preached it cannot fulfill its function. How can it serve as a schoolmaster when it is relegated to a dusty shelf as unnecessary and offensive? Of course it is offensive, just as the ancient schoolmasters undoubtedly made them selves offensive to those under their care. Yet the law is instructive in the hearts of men when preached with vigor. It teaches us that we are sinners. It teaches us that we are condemned and judged. It teaches us that there is a savior.

There are two areas that are worthy of our attention in light of these thoughts. What is the function and purpose of the law?

Function and purpose do not address the same areas. Function has to do with the act of executing or performing activity, duty, office, or calling; performance. Purpose has to do with that which is the end or aim to which the view is directed in any plan, measure, or exertion; end, or, the view itself; design; intention. The law has a function in that it performs a certain duty, or office. The law has a purpose in that it is aiming at something; it is given with intention.

The purpose is to direct us to Christ. The function is to identify sin and its penalty. It fulfilling its function it achieves its purpose. It is the purpose and function of the law to which we will direct our attention over the course of this chapter.
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