Lesson 8 - The Purpose of the Mosaic Law

Lesson 8 - The Purpose of the Mosaic Law

(Galatians 3:19-29)

Having already established the fact that obeying the Mosaic Law could not provide salvation, Paul then explained to these believers in Galatia the true purpose of the Law. To fully understand the purpose of the Mosaic Law, it is necessary to review the period just prior to the giving of it to Moses, and the state of God’s people, the nation of Israel, at the time. (Exodus 32)

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after receiving the Ten Commandments from God, the nation of Israel had erected all types of idols. This was an indication of how far away from God they had gotten prior to the giving of the commandments. Moses was so angry that he broke the tables on which the commandments were written.

Until the time of the giving of the Ten Commandments, oral communication and a person’s conscience were the only rules by which a person could know right from wrong. There were no rules in written form and they should not have been necessary. If not for the exceeding sinfulness of the nation of Israel in rejecting God’s rulership over them, there would have been no need for the giving of the Law.

Obviously, the children of Israel ignored what had been taught them by their fathers and what their conscience told them regarding sin. Paul said the Law was added to what already existed (grace) in order that sin might be manifested as transgression. The Greek word for sin is “harmartia” meaning to miss the mark. Transgression is the Greek word “parabasis,” which means to step beyond a boundary into a forbidden area. Sin, therefore, is more than missing the mark (God’s perfect righteousness), it is stepping into an area forbidden by God. In order that there be no question as to what this “forbidden area” was, God added the Mosaic Law.

The Mosaic Law became the standard by which a person could judge his condition, but grace was always available to the children of Israel as the means of salvation. The Law was brought “along side” grace, not added as an extra provision for salvation. The Law enabled people to see their sinful condition and their need for a Savior. When the Savior (Abraham’s seed) came, there was no longer a need for the Law, a new standard was now available to compare oneself to – Jesus Christ. Tantamount to promise of the Abrahamic Covenant, grace continued to be the means of providing salvation from Moses until Christ’s death on the Cross. The Law was therefore temporary to show a person his sinful condition and his need for a Savior.

Paul also told the Galatian believers that the Law was administered by angels “in the hand of a mediator.” Apparently God used angels as His messengers to deliver the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai and Moses in turn delivered it to the nation of Israel. The mediator (go between) in this case is Moses, who was God’s chosen spokesman and leader of the nation. (Acts 7:53; Hebrews 2:2)

In Galatians 3:20 Paul explained that a mediator by the very meaning of the word must mediate between two parties. In the case of the Mosaic Law, Moses mediated between God and the nation of Israel. Therefore, the Law is a contract between these two parties – God and Israel. God, however, does not need a mediator when He freely offers salvation to anyone who will believe in His Son Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is Paul’s argument that grace is superior to the Law since grace does not require a mediator. The Law is a contract between two parties, but salvation is a promise (not a contract).

In Galatians 3:21 Paul asks the next logical question, “Is the Law therefore against the promises of God?” He then answers his own question by saying, “God forbid.” The Law and the promises are not in conflict. Each has its distinct function and both were given by God. The Law condemns and the promise (Jesus Christ) delivers from condemnation. If (and it couldn’t) the Law could have provided righteousness, Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the Cross.

Paul then stated the fact that condemnation must precede salvation in Galatians 3:22. God’s plan is perfect and knowing that man would disobey Him, He devised a perfect plan for the salvation of man by sending His Son.

Prior to their faith in Christ the nation of Israel was “locked up” by Law with only one avenue of escape, which the Law pointed them to – faith in the Messiah (Jesus Christ). After Christ came, there was no further need for the Law to point a person to Christ. Therefore, the Law was like a “schoolmaster” to bring us to Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by means of our faith in Christ. A schoolmaster in Biblical times was not a school teacher. The Greek word for schoolmaster is “paidagogus” meaning a servant who was appointed to watch over a child until he reached adulthood. This servant would lead the child to school and back. This is analogous to the Law, which was designed to bring us to Christ.

According to Galatians 3:25, after we exercise our faith in Christ we no longer need a schoolmaster because the job is done. Once you believe in Jesus Christ, you are adopted into God’s family as an adult family member. You have been placed in union with Jesus Christ and there is not a racial distinction, a social distinction or a gender distinction with the family of God. And a benefit to being in union with Jesus Christ is that you share in His inheritance as the “seed of Abraham” and “heir to the promise” of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Adoption

The unique thing about becoming a son of God is that the believer has actually been adopted by God into His family. This adoption is a result of the new birth (regeneration). No one is born into this world as a believer in Christ. Therefore, we have no family relationship with God at physical birth. What we have is spiritual death, which is separation from God without the human ability to do anything about it. God in His grace, however, has made a way for us to enter into a family relationship with Him. Of course, this way is through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Once we become a child of God, the potential exists to function as a son of God. (Romans 8:14-17)

Adoption means to be placed as a son or daughter. It is the Greek word “huiothesia” and carries with it the meaning of being placed as an adult son. This means that the believer has the potential for much more than what the term “child of God” implies. All “children of God” will spend eternity with God, but not all will fulfill the responsibilities of royalty as a “son of God.” Therefore, not all believers will receive equal rewards in the eternal state.

As a son of God, the Church Age believer has royal responsibilities, but he also has privileges that never before existed in history. The Scripture delineates these privileges for us in a number of passages. One of these is that we now have a royal inheritance. We do not know all that this inheritance entails, but we do know that it is far above anything that the human mind can imagine. God has prepared for each of us our very own personal portfolio of assets.

Union with Jesus Christ

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the means that God uses to place us in union with Jesus Christ, which is neither seen nor felt. It is a fact stated in the Word of God for us to believe. There are seven different types of “baptisms” in the Bible (1. Moses’ – I Corinthians 10:2; 2. Fire – Matthew 3:11,13:25; 3. Cross – Matthew 20:22; Luke 12:50; 4. Holy Spirit – I Corinthians 12:13; 5. Jesus’ – Matthew 3:13-17; 6. John’s – Matthew 3:1-11; 7. Believer’s – Acts 2:41, 9:18). The word for baptism in Greek is “baptisma” and literally means “to dip.” It was used to describe the dyeing of a garment or the drawing of wine by dipping the cup into the bowl. John the Baptist and Jesus used the word to describe water baptism as submersion, therefore, the accurate interpretation of the word is “to dip into or submerge.” (I Corinthians 12:13)

When a person trusts Christ as Savior they are “dipped into” or “submerged” into the “body of Christ”. This, of course, is speaking of positional truth, signifying our union with Christ. Water baptism for believers has always been a picture of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Submersion into water pictures how the believer becomes united with Christ. (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:4-5)

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was prophesied by John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. This prophesy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, which occurred fifty days after Christ ascended when the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit began. This event marked the beginning of the Church Age. Therefore, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for the Church Age believer only. Since it is the means of placing the believer into union with Christ, the baptism of the Holy Spirit assures the believer of sharing Christ’s inheritance. This inheritance includes becoming a member of the Royal Family of God. We actually share Christ’s royalty, a royalty He received by defeating Satan in the Angelic Conflict. Christ won this victory by His spiritual death, physical death, resurrection, ascension and session at the right hand of God the Father. Because of our union with Christ we are different from believers of other ages and we are given a higher spiritual position. What a privilege and what a responsibility! (Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5; 2:4; 11:15-17; Colossians 2:9-15)

The baptism of the Holy Spirit results in a union, which never before existed for the believer. This union with Christ is unique and sets up many potentials for the believer. Being placed in union with Christ is called Positional Sanctification. Positional Sanctification describes our new relationship with God through Christ. It is a permanent relationship based on our faith in Christ and never changes, regardless of the believer’s spiritual condition. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, therefore, sets up the potential for the believer to make his daily experience (Experiential Sanctification) align with his position in Christ (Positional Sanctification). This means that we are to exhibit the character of Jesus Christ on a daily basis by means of the power of the Holy Spirit Who is indwelling us. (John 14:20; I Corinthians 12:12-27)