It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important. — Martin Luther King Jr.
Before you rip out the pages of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, let’s wrestle with the biblical tension between law and freedom. If the law can’t save me, then why did God implement the law?
Let’s start with what God did not intend for the law to accomplish, as put forth in Galatians:
- The law can’t give you the Spirit of God. (3:2)
- The law can’t mature you in your faith. (3:3)
- The law can’t work miracles among you. (3:5)
- The law can’t make you righteous. (3:6)
- The law can’t justify you. (3:8)
So why did He give the law at all?
It was added because of transgressions until the Seed… had come. (Galatians 3:19)
Let that sink in. God gave the law because of our depravity—our deep-rooted inclination, before we were in Christ, to sin against the standard of God’s perfection. God added the law for a limited time while we were still in Adam.
Wait a second! How do we know it was for a limited time only? Look at the verse above once more:
It was added because of transgressions until the Seed... had come.
The law was confined by the limitations of time. It expired when the promised Seed of Abraham arrived. Abraham’s covenant has no expiration date. But the law? It expired with Jesus!
This tension would be a great mystery if Paul hadn’t solved it for us. Why did God implement the law? There are many reasons, and we will explore them over the next couple of days. But for now, realize that the law came because of mankind’s sinfulness, and for a limited amount of time in the past, so we can be free to dance with Jesus today.
Father of Time, my eyes are opened to Your Sovereignty. May Your Spirit slow me down this week, as I consider the weight of what it means to benefit from a plan of redemption that took thousands of years to unfold. I praise You that Your plans unfold throughout generations and centuries. Thank You for containing Your law by time, for the sake of preparation, as the time ripened for the coming of Your Son. Amen.