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The Law as Tutor

The Law as Tutor

Words of Faith 5-29-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Galatians 3


     [19] What, then, was the purpose of the Law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The Law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. [20] A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one. [21] Is the Law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the Law. [22] But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. [23] Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the Law, locked up until faith should be revealed. [24] So the Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. [25] Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the Law.


     So how does the Law function in our lives? What is the purpose of the Law? We often say that the Law is like a mirror in which we look to see how we fall short of the glory of God, and how much we need His Grace. But Paul gives us an even deeper insight. The Law is our restrainer and our tutor as we grow toward Christ.

     If the first covenant was with Abraham as a promise of justification by faith, the Law had several functions in the purpose of God. First and foremost, the Law served as a restraint against sins by showing specific actions to be transgressions of God's Law, which would incur His wrath.

     This is clear in the way Paul wrote to Timothy. "We know that the Law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that Law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers--and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me" (1 Tim. 1:8-11). The Law shows us what is wrong in the sight of God.        But in this sense, the Law was a temporary device. It served only for a time until the Seed, the Messiah, came. After the coming of Messiah, the Law was no longer needed. In fact, Paul points out that the Law was actually inferior because of the manner of its giving. While God made promises to Abraham directly, the Law was established by a mediator.

       While justifying faith was operative in the Old Testament, faith in the person and work of Christ did not come until He was revealed. Before that, Israel was under a sort of "protective custody" of the Law. God was shielding His people from the evil pagan ritual practiced by those surrounding them. The Law kept them safe and separate.

     But there was a more critical function of the Law. The Law actually served as a "tutor" or "schoolmaster."  This is the language Paul used. In Roman culture, such a tutor was a slave who was assigned to a son from age six or seven to puberty. These tutors were severe disciplinarians charged with guarding the children against the evils of society and giving them moral training. Paul explains that this was the Law’s function until Christ came and people could be justified by faith in Him. The Law is to tutor people toward Grace.

     And how does the Law tutor us? It is better then to understand that the Law did not lead us to Christ but that it was the disciplinarian until Christ came. The reign of Law has ended, and faith in Christ has delivered believers from the protective custody and harsh discipline of the tutor.

     There is nothing wrong with being tutored by the Law. The Law will discipline us and guide us. But there comes a time when we need Jesus and His Grace. There comes a time when we need His mercy, and we trust it by faith. There is a time for the tutoring of the Law to stop so that we can find freedom.


     Father God, I want the freedom that is found only in Christ Jesus. As I trust in Jesus alone, show me the walk of freedom in Your Grace. In Jesus' Name.


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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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