The Apostle Paul had to answer one big question, “What then the law?” (Galatians 3:19).
This question had to be answered by any Jew who dared say that salvation is by grace through faith. Paul made it very clear that the law has great significance but that it cannot make one right before God.
What then is the significance of the law? What does it do, and why did God give the law?
The Judaizers misunderstood Paul and his position. “He was far from declaring the law unnecessary, for he was quite clear that it had an essential part to play in the purpose of God” (John Stott).
Paul showed that the law does not and cannot bestow salvation. The law convinces men of their need of salvation.
“Satan would have us to prove ourselves holy by the law, which God gave to prove us sinners” (Andrew Jukes). Through the law comes knowledge of sin (Galatians 3:20). It shows sin to be transgression, a breach of the holy law of God.
The law cannot justify us. Above all others, Paul knew that no one has ever kept the law of God. Paul tried and came up miserably short.
Martin Luther (the Catholic priest who started the Reformation) put it this way, ” The principal point . . . of the law . . . is to make men not better bur worse; that is to say, it shewethe unto them their sin, that by the knowledge thereof they may be humbled, terrified, bruised and broken, and by this means may be driven to seek grace, and to come to that blessed Seed [Christ].”
What a joyous day it is when we see ourselves for who we are, sinners in need of a gracious and kind God, people who cannot keep the law.
What a joyous day when having seen our sin we see God’s love and grace and repent of our sin and turn to Him.
We who were slaves to sin and transgression become free from sin and the law and become God’s beloved sons.
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:11-12).
The law shows us our sin in order to give us the hope that is above all hope.