Schoolmaster

Galatians 3:24. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

I love this verse, maybe because I was a teacher, and still am teaching in a different setting than the classroom.

The Greek word  here for schoolmaster is paidagogos, which gives us our word pedagogue. The paidagogos was a servant whose job it was to care for the children as a guardian.  One of his jobs was to take the children back and forth to school.  He wasn’t a professional teacher, but he made sure the children in his charge were being schooled, and, as I understand it,  also reviewed their lessons and helped them in memorization of the Law.

Once the children in the family reached the age of becoming legal sons, official heirs of the father, they no longer needed a schoolmaster. It was something to be celebrated, a kind of coming of age.

Once Jesus came, once His sacrifice was made, we were no longer under the authority of a schoolmaster. We were set free, by grace through faith, to become joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to all that heaven has to offer.

Think about that!

Kept Under the Law

Galatians 3:23. “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”

Before the Law was fulfilled, in the Person of Jesus Christ, we were held in custody under the Law, waiting for that Faith to come which would free us from the Law and give us the freedom of faith in Christ. The Law was put in place to  protect, to instruct, to get us ready for the greater Grace that would come.

The Old Testament saints lived, under the law, with the hope and expectation of the coming of Messiah, Who would fulfill that Law. The Law was not considered a burden by the faithful. It’s ceremonies and rituals were a constant, comforting reminder that Messiah was coming.

Friday Counseling Issues: My Friend is Driving me Crazy!

enmesh

verb en·mesh \in-ˈmesh, en-\

: to wrap or tangle (someone or something) in a net

At one time or the other during our lives, most of us find ourselves involved in a friendship that seems wonderful at first. There are lots of common interests,  and spending time with this new friend is lots of fun. But after just a few weeks, or maybe months, we realize that the new friend has attached herself in a way that reminds us of barnacles, or sucker fish, or some other life form that grabs hold and will not let go. 

You can’t do anything with other friends.  If your new friend is not included, she will call you, text you, leave you long emotional messages while you’re out without her.

You find that you have become responsible for  your new friend’s happiness and peace of mind. She tells you, “No one has ever understood me like you do,” or “I just don’t know what I’d ever do without you. Promise me you’ll never leave me!”

If you’re married,  your new friend is critical of your husband; or perhaps she praises him to the skies until it’s really pretty embarrassing. She manages to insinuate herself into your family, becoming friendly with your children in a way that makes you more than a little uneasy.

She may start dressing like you do, or fixing her hair like yours. She may ask you to help her pick out some new clothes for her because you have such marvelous taste.  She wants to know what shampoo you use, what perfume–you always smell so nice!–and what you’re making for dinner that night.

At first, all this devotion may seem sweet, even make you feel very special. It isn’t long, however, before you realize you’ve become entangled with an emotionally unhealthy person, and you desperately want to get out of the friendship. Trouble is, you’re a really kind person and you don’t want to hurt her feelings.

Or maybe there’s a person in your life who loves to call you every day, keeping you on the phone for hours at a time to talk about HER problems–never yours.  You make suggestion, but nothing ever changes.  How do you stop the calls?

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Okay, I’ve set the scene.  I’m going to try something different this week and ask you: “What would you do?  How would you extricate yourself?”  Let’s talk about this, see if we can come up with some ways that will really work.

And please be kind.  This is not a place for name-calling or foul language. Let’s just get a good conversation going!

By Faith of Jesus Christ

Galatians 3:22. “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”

This verse draws a dire picture of all mankind being imprisoned by sin, for we are all sinners. Romans 3:10 and 3:23 tell us that all have sinned.  Jeremiah 17:9 makes it clear that the human heart is deceitful and incorrigibly wicked, and that we don’t even know the depth of our own depravity.

No one is above the desire to sin. No one escapes the imprisonment of sin. Sometimes we try to categorize sin:  “Really, really bad,” “not quite as bad,” “bad, but understandable,” “mildly bad,” and “just a little bit bad.”  And then, of course, we reassure ourselves that our own sin isn’t nearly as bad as so-and-so’s sin, so  getting to heaven won’t be quite so difficult for us.

What we miss is that even the tiniest, “not bad at all” sin nailed Jesus to the cross just as surely as the worst sin we can think of. We have completely lost sight of the absolute holiness of our God, Who cannot tolerate even one tiny, tiny little sin in His presence.  And those “tiny” sins imprison us just as much as the “really, really bad” ones do. Without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we could not come to God by faith and be reconciled to Him.

You know, I can remember when the lines were very clear between right and wrong; all my friends knew it was wrong to lie, to cheat, to disobey parents. Today, we laugh at things we used to be ashamed of. We’ve lost our way, and we don’t even know it.

The truth is, no one will come to salvation through grace by faith until there is once again a clear understanding of sin, of what offends a pure and holy God.  Until we understand that our own righteousnesses are like polluted, filthy rags in God’s eyes, we will not see our need of a Savior.

The Case against Salvation by Works

Galatians 3:21. “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.”

If law could bring righteousness and life, then justification would be by the law. But the scriptures of the prophets as well as the law declare all to be sinners (Rom. 11:32), imprisoned under sentence of death until the sentence should be carried out upon those sinners; that the promise of life by faith might be given to those who believe when Christ paid their penalty (vv. 22-23).

The law did NOT replace the promise. It only taught us how to live until the promise was fulfilled in the Person of the spotless Lamb of God, Who would fulfill the law and provide salvation  BY FAITH, not by the works of the law. There is no law that could give life, eternal life, to anyone. If there were, then righteousness would have been by the law, and not by grace.

Paul seems to be saying the same things over and over, doesn’t he?  That’s because he is carefully building an unassailable case against salvation by works.  Every detail had to be covered, every possibility explored.

One Mediator

Galatians 3:19-20. “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made: and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.  Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.”

Image result for the law was added because of transgression

(Image from StephenRicker.com)

If the just shall live by faith, then what purpose is there in the Law?

I suppose this is a somewhat crude analogy, and I am sure there are better ones out there, but I like to think of the Law  as the “skin” that held everything together.

The human body is made up of hundreds of different parts.  Bones, organs, arteries, muscle, zillions of cells.  The skin, also an organ, covers all the parts of the body and keeps them neatly contained.  That’s kind of what the Law did for Israel. It kept God’s  standards of cleanliness, holiness, purity, and protection all neatly contained and accessible.

Of course, man went on to complicate God’s Law by adding myriads of details,  Man always does that to religion, constantly refining and perfecting so it is more acceptable.  To whom?  Well, they would tell you, “To God, of course!” The problem with that is that God’s Word nowhere asks us to improve upon that which is already given. But man needs to meddle, and he needs to control.  He can’t just leave well enough alone.

The Law was given to teach people how to live until the Seed that was promised should appear.  It was “ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”  What is that all about?

Every source I checked supports the idea that the Law was given to Moses by God, through angels, and that Moses was the mediator at that time between God and the people. Now, we know that Christ is the One mediator between God and Man. We have no need to seek priests or other clerical people to go to God in our behalf. We have the privilege of approaching Him through the One Mediator, Who is Christ Jesus (I Tim. 2:5).

The Law does not Replace the Promise

Galatians 3:17-18, “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundread and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise”

First, God made the promise to Abraham that he would be the father of a countless number of people, and that Abraham and all his seed could cling to the promise that the just shall live by faith.

430 years later, God gave Moses the Law on Mount Sinai. The Law was not given to replace the promises.  The Law was not given as a way for man to work his way to heaven.  It was given as a schoolmaster, to lead us to Christ. It was given to show us the importance of the holiness of God, and of our need to model ourselves in His ways.  It was given to protect the people and help them guard against the evil influences of the idol worshippers that surrounded them.

The Law does not make the promise null and void.

The Law does not replace the promise.

The Law served as a guide for the people of Israel until Messiah would come to take away the burden of their sin, and the sin of all mankind.

Because of Christ, we are no longer bound to live under the law.