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Thursday, October 31, 2019

2019.10.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:23-26

Questions from the Scripture text: Before faith (here meaning “the One believed in”) came, what kept the believers under guard (Galatians 3:23)? For what were the believers being kept? What is the law called in Galatians 3:24? To Whom was it making sure to bring us? How must one be justified, who comes to Him? Now that the One believed in has come, what are believers no longer under (Galatians 3:25)? What are the people in Galatians 3:26 called? How did they come into this status?
Last week, in Galatians 3:19-22, we learned that the law (the Mosaic administration) was necessary because of  transgressions, but that it could not deliver us from those transgressions. That’s what it couldn’t do. So what’s the one thing that it did do? We learn in Galatians 3:23, the Mosaic administration “kept us under guard” until the time that “the faith” (the one in Whom we believe—Jesus!) would “afterward be revealed.”

The word translated “tutor” here helps us understand the role that the Mosaic covenant played in the history of the covenant of grace. The “tutor” was a teacher and guardian, assigned to an heir, to teach and prepare him for the day that he would come into his inheritance. He was already guaranteed that inheritance, of course. But, he was given a tutor for his own help, so that he might learn more about who he is, what his inheritance is, and how to conduct himself once he had come into it.

The Mosaic administration did all these things. It kept believers mindful of their sin (reminding them who they are), but also held before them the reality of the covenant of grace and God’s determination to set apart to Himself a people to whom He would be committed (also reminding them who they are!). The Mosaic administration also described for them what Christ’s perfect obedience would look like (especially by the moral law) and what Christ’s sacrifice would look like (especially by the ceremonial law). Finally, the Mosaic administration presented obedience not in the context of “how to get saved” but rather as instructions for “how the saved behave” (cf. Exodus 20:2).

With the “tutor’s” help in pointing forward to Jesus, being made right with God has always been by believing—even before the believed-in-one (“the faith” in Galatians 3:23Galatians 3:25) came. But, now that Jesus is here, there is no reason to continue the Mosaic administration. Christ’s moral law, of course, remains the same. It has never been how we were made right with God or qualified to inherit. And, now, it doesn’t even have that role of pointing us forward to Jesus. He Himself has come, and He has given us better things that point back to His finished work on earth and point us up to Him Himself in glory.

What this passage is warning against is coming to the Old Testament in a way that forgets that Jesus has come. It’s His book, and we must read it as those who have Him as our righteousness, and Him as our blessing, and are employing His book to whatever extent it helps us to know Him and serve Him better—and never to supplement what Christ has done. What did the Mosaic administration teach in its time? The same thing that the New Testament teaches us now: trust only in Jesus!
What do you do, that you are tempted to think improves your standing with God?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

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