Galatians 3:19-25 “The Purpose of the Law” (Sermon text and audio)

Posted on February 19, 2012


This is my sermon on Galatians 3:19-25. This message was delivered on Feb 19, 2012 at Hillcrest Baptist Church. This is a verse by verse exposition which deals with the purpose of the law. You will find the text of the sermon, the audio, and a downloadable study outline. Please note that the sermon text is NOT a full transcript. Typically, as I preach, I add to what is in my notes. So, for the full sermon, please listen to the audio version.


Gal 3_19-25 outline

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Gal 3_19-25


Galatians 3:19-25

19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.

20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.

22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.

24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor

The purpose of the law was to bridle our sin.

Because of man’s sinful nature, we needed rules to guide us. It should be clear to any of us that our own wisdom is insufficient for the task.

The law was given “till,” meaning that it had a specific purpose which would eventually be fulfilled.

The fulfillment would happen at the coming of Christ, the “Seed. . . to whom the promise was made.”

The coming of Christ did not eradicate or change the law, we need to understand that the coming of Christ fulfilled the law.

Matthew 5:17-20

17 “ Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven

Notice that both the people who break the law, and the people who do the law are in Heaven.

As we can see from Jesus’ statement in v.20, obedience to the law does not bring righteousness. If it did, the scribes and the Pharisees would have had a monopoly on righteousness. Nobody kept the law better than them. The problem was that they lacked faith.

As we’ve seen throughout Galatians, and is evident throughout Scripture, faith is the starting point. It is faith that justifies.

God used Moses as a mediator between Him and the Israelites, as He gave the law. He chose a mediator, a single spokesman. When dealing with groups, mediation always avoids unnecessary confusion.

They, like all of us needed order, structure, and direction. This is what the law provided.

In contrast to the law, when the promise of grace was give to Abraham, it was one on one. No mediator was needed.

Christ, as the fulfillment of both the law and the promise, acts as our mediator today.

1Timothy 2:5-6

5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time

Jesus sits at the right hand of the father, making intercession for us.

Romans 8:34

34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us

Jesus is our High Priest, representing us before the Father.

Hebrews 2:17

17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people

He is our mediator!

The law is not at all against the Promise of God, the law is simply different from the promise.

Only Jesus Christ, who is the promise, can give life. If the law could have done that, it would have, and the sacrifice of Jesus would not have been necessary.

However, the law was never intended to give life. On the contrary, the law does exactly what God designed it to do.

Paul paints a picture of everyone being trapped in sin. In fact, Scripture clearly teaches that we are all sinners.

1 Kings 8:46

46 “When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to the land of the enemy, far or near

Proverbs 20:9

9 Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin”

Ecclesiastes 7:20

20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin

Isaiah 53:6

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all

Romans 3:23

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Because of our hopeless situation, God has given us a promise of salvation if we simply have faith in Jesus Christ.

This verse is not to say that the law existed before faith, the reference here is to each and everyone’s personal faith.

There is a time in every believer’s life before they come to faith.

Until the time of saving faith, we were prisoners of the law. Faith frees you from that impossible burden.

John 8:36

36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed

The law was our tutor, or you could say “guardian.”

In this culture the guardian was a teacher, given to a child as an infant, but also a strict disciplinarian.

They were to keep the children in line until they were grown. The guardian was not the child’s father; therefore, the child would not look to the guardian for an inheritance.

The guardian would simply guard another persons son, and then leave him when the lawful time of inheritance would come.

In the same way, we are kept under the guard and tutelage of the law until, by faith, we claim our promise and lay claim to our inheritance.

So what does the law teach us?

It reveals Christ to us.

It reveals our sinfulness.

It reveals God’s holiness.

It teaches us that disobedience brings God’s wrath.

And it teaches us that we are incapable of living up to God’s standards.

Therefore, justification must come by faith.

When we come to that saving faith in Christ, we are no longer under the strict control of the guardian (tutor).

Many people see Christianity as a restrictive life, and they focus on the things that they can’t do.

In reality, it is a life of freedom. That’s what Jesus offers.

You no longer have to worry about your eternal destiny, you no longer have to live under the burden of not being good enough.

The faithless life is the life of bondage, and Jesus paid the price to free us. He redeemed us!

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