Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Galatians 3:23–29 Law’s Supervison Has Ended with Christ

KEY TEXT: Galatians 3:24-28 Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (NET)

KEY THOT: The law acted as a temporary guardian (NIV: supervisor; NASB: tutor; RSV: custodian) for the Jews who were under law’s tutorship. Its role was to protect Israel from moral and spiritual corruption and prepare Israel for Christ's coming so that they might be justified by faith in Christ. Now that Christ has come, the law’s function as guardian, tutor and supervisor is over. Christ Himself is now our Guardian, Tutor and Supervisor. Believers who have received Christ by faith and are baptized have “clothed (themselves) with Christ” (v.27). The law was never given to justify anyone for that is not its function; its main role was to protect, prepare and point people to Christ, so that they might be justified by faith in Christ.

So, is there now any more role for the law? 

An analogy might help. Consider the traffic law in our country Singapore. Singapore is a small place and the law places a speed limit of 90 km/h for our highways. We will be fined if we drive beyond 90 km/h on the highway. The law is here to guard and protect us from self-destructive and harmful behavior. However, when we cross over the Causeway into Johore, we are free from the jurisdiction (supervision) of Singapore traffic law. Some Singaporeans think that "freedom" means they can drive recklessly. For believers, it doesn't matter if we are in Singapore or Johore, for sitting in our car next to us is the Commissioner of Police. 

With him in the car, we are unlikely to drive in ways that are reckless and self-destructive. We may even keep to the speed limit of 90 km/h, not because we have to (for fear of punishment) but because we want to. We recognize the law was given to protect us from ourselves and from others from injury and death due to reckless driving. The Commissioner of Police is unlikely to encourage us to break the Singapore traffic laws despite being in Johore because he himself was the one who proposed the traffic laws for Parliament to enact. Though Singapore's jurisdiction may no longer apply in Johore, the purpose of the law has not changed--to protect and preserve our lives. 

In the same way, we new covenant believers are in a different territory (kingdom of God) and no more under Satan's kingdom. The realms have changed, but the Law-giver has not. We are now under the direct personal rule of Christ, no longer through the law He enacted by Moses. Christ the Law-Giver now lives within us to direct our lives. And it's unlikely that He will contradict himself by violating his own laws which are simply expressions of his inward identity of holiness and love. He has given us the Spirit as the new law in our hearts: and the Spirit is holy and will not lead us to contradict the moral standards expressed in Moses' law.

So we now live by faith and by the Spirit. Many aspects of the Moses' Law are specific to the Jewish nation and no longer applicable to us as Gentile believers: e.g. circumcision, Sabbath & festivals, dietary laws, tithes, sacrifices, etc.: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” In Christ, we have the substance, not the shadow.

Jesus Christ is our new Guide and Supervisor. It therefore behooves us to take his teachings contained in the Gospels seriously, for in them he has defined the attitudes, motivations and conduct expected of people who will receive His Spirit by faith. This new covenant attitudes are found especially in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) which begins with his famous 8 Beatitudes (Billy Graham calls them "Beautiful Attitudes"). 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus as the new Shepherd of our souls has given us the new covenant approach to OT laws, particularly the Ten Commandments. Our relationship with God as sons and daughters in the new covenant is not based on keeping the Law of Moses but on our obedience to the Law of Christ. This new Law is also called the "law of the Spirit of life" for the Holy Spirit is now our Counselor and Guide to knowing the truths and living according to the truths. This new covenant law of Christ is consistent with the holy character of God. 

Jesus Christ never changes: he is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Heb. 13:8). His holy character is unchanging, though the expressions of it may change. In the new covenant, the change is from outward conduct to inward character; from rules and regulations to relationships; from death to life.

Father God, thank You that the Law’s temporary role is over. Now that Christ has come, we are justified not by works of the law but by faith in Christ with Your Holy Spirit as our internal law. Amen.

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