One of the questions that I often get asked is why did God give us the Law of the Old Testament and then change everything with Jesus in the New Testament? Each time I teach Galatians, as I am doing this fall, I am reminded that Paul gives us the answer to this question in the 3rd chapter.
But it helps to understand the historical contest of what happened back in the day. When a child was born to a wealthy family, it was not uncommon for the child to be taught by the servants and those who reported to the owner of the estate. In fact, on many occasions, the child actually lived with the servants and learned everything they could. When the child reached the age of reason and had learned everything they could from the servants, they went back into the owner’s home where their education continued. In other words, when they had been taught everything they could learn from the staff, they returned to be taught additional things from their blood family.
Certainly, this must seem odd, but it would have had great meaning for the churches in Galatia when Paul was preaching and teaching in the area. And it was this example that Paul used to teach about the Law and then the New Testament.
Paul likens the Law to the education that children received as they were taught by the servants. In fact, Paul refers to the Law as our “schoolmaster” who taught us as much as possible. However, there was more to learn and when the children came back into the house of the owner, their blood relatives, more education was revealed.
Paul maintains that the Law was given to prove that mankind couldn’t be perfect and people could not earn their way into heaven. When this lesson was finally learned, God sent His Son, Jesus, to offer us a way to get back to God and spending eternity with Him. That is by accepting the free gift of eternal life as a result of declaring Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Some people go so far as to carry this illustration to the conclusion that we are adopted sons and daughters of the Creator and we have been invited into His care as we became aware of His Son, Jesus. In fact, we are called co-heirs with Christ! For adopted sons and daughters had the same rights and privileges as blood descendants in families.
The Law served its purpose for Christians but there was more that was to be revealed and that didn’t happen until the New Testament. Our verse for tonight is from the book of Galatians, Paul’s letter to the churches in the region of what is central Turkey today.
Paul tells his congregations, and us, in Galatians 3:23-26, “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (KJV)
My encouragement this evening is that we are privileged to live in the eternal house of the Creator and His Son. My prayer is that we will all appreciate the importance of the Old Testament Law and how it impacts the further revelation of Jesus and how our education continues as we become more and more Christlike, hopefully maturing in our faith. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…