Under The Law?
Carlton Foster – August 21, 2017
The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Galatians, stated “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterward 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. For as many of you have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Gal 3:22-27)”.
He stated that “Before faith came”, which is the knowledge and the belief in Jesus as the Christ – the Messiah, the Jews (who believed in God), “were kept under the law”. That is, their way of life was according to the commandments given to them from God, Moses, and the Prophets to enforce the law with condemnations and judgments for the person who sinned and does not repent. The laws were a guardian – a schoolmaster, to guide them in living according to the dictates of God. For example, in Leviticus 1, here is an example of a law given to the children of Israel:
And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him (Leviticus 1:1-4).
These and other laws were a guide to living godly. The acts were to serve as atonement for the believers. If they break the law, then they are subjected to the consequences of the law, which is the same as living under the law, and following the instructions from God would make them right before God who said:
If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering (Leviticus 4:3).
The laws were a guardian to living Godly, but as Paul indicated that when Jesus came, the Jews were to look to Christ for instructions to righteousness, of restoring the sinner through acts of love and mercy. That they should exercise more love to each other, than focusing on the infractions of the law. Therefore, Jesus magnified the laws by showing them that he was the lamb that they were sacrificing as the sin offering for the atonement for their sins. No more should they physically do that, but they should believe that he is their Messiah. So, the ceremonials practices were abandoned, but the moral laws were magnified by Jesus. He said in Matthew 5:17-18, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Heaven and Earth have not yet passed away, so the laws are still applicable to us. Jesus has fulfilled some of the laws, but the second coming of Jesus is not yet, and Earth has not yet passed away, so there are more things to be fulfilled by Jesus. He said, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me (Luke 24:44).”
An allegory to what Paul is trying to show us is like a little child, who is not yet aware of the many dangers of life and behaviors. The child will put his or her hands on a hot stove, not realizing that it will burn the hand; the child, while playing, will run into the busy street, not knowing the danger of the traffic in the street. When you are a child, you are prone to live under the consequences of the laws of nature. The child lives under the law as Paul indicated, but as the child grew to be an adult, he or she now knows and understands the consequences and therefore does no longer purposely do the things that would cause infractions. The adult is no longer living under the law, which is, having numerous infractions.
So too it is with non-believers and young Christians, those who do not know the way of Jesus Christ. They need guidance to live Godly, but when they are mature in the ways of Jesus, His ways take more precedence in our lives than the ways of the law, which brings condemnations; however, just like the hot stove can still burn a child, it can also burn the adult who chooses to put his or her hands on it. So too is the law, if the mature Christian who chooses to break the law that God has put in his or her heart, he or she will be subjected to the consequences of that law. Remember, that the “wages of sin” is still resulted in death!
So Paul coined the words “Under the Law”, to refer to the Jews who prefer to follow the laws and the practices of the consequences, the infractions of the laws given to them by Moses instead of listening to Jesus. They believed that the carrying out of the consequences of breaking the law, executing judgments, will make them Godly, but Jesus emphasizes love over vindication or judgement. Paul said, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10).” Therefore, Paul will say, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14)”. This means that the infractions of sin, passing judgment, should not dominate our practices, but the acts of mercy and love are the grace under which we should live our lives. We should not take these merciful, gracious acts for granted: “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid (Romans 6:15).
In conclusion, if you practiced love over vindication, you are following the spirit of Jesus. You are no longer caught up with passing judgment but focuses on restorations of the individuals who committed sinful acts. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law (Galatians 5:17-18). The term ‘Under the law’, focuses on vindications and condemnation instead of love, mercy, and restorations, which is the spirit of Jesus.