Tuesday: The Purpose of the Law
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Sin of Adam and Eve In Galatians 3:19–29 Paul makes multiple references to “the law.” What law is Paul primarily referring to in this section of Galatians? 1



Some, believing that the word until in verse 19 (ESV) indicates that this law was only temporary, have thought the passage must refer to the ceremonial law, because the purpose of that law was fulfilled at the cross and thus came to an end. Though this makes sense by itself, it does not appear to be Paul’s point in Galatians. While both the ceremonial and moral law were “added” at Sinai because of transgression, we will see by considering the following question that Paul appears to have the moral law primarily in mind.

Does Paul say that the law was added? To what was it added, and why? Compare Gal. 3:19 and Rom. 5:13, 20.



Paul is not saying that the law was added to God’s covenant with Abraham, as if it were some sort of addendum to a will that altered the original provisions. The law had been in existence long before Sinai (see tomorrow’s lesson). Paul means, instead, that the law was given to Israel for an entirely different purpose. It was to redirect the people back to God and the grace He offers all who come to Him by faith. The law reveals to us our sinful condition and our need of God’s grace. The law was not intended to be some kind of program for “earning” salvation. On the contrary, it was given, Paul says, “to increase the trespass” (Rom. 5:20, ESV); that is, to show us more clearly the sin in our lives (Rom. 7:13).

While the ceremonial laws pointed to the Messiah and emphasized holiness and the need of a Savior, it is the moral law, with its “Thou shall nots,” that reveals sin, that shows us that sin is not just a part of our natural condition but is, indeed, a violation of God’s law (Rom. 3:205:13, 207:7, 8, 13). This is why Paul says, “Where there is no law there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15, ESV). “The law acts as a magnifying glass. That device does not actually increase the number of dirty spots that defile a garment, but makes them stand out more clearly and reveals many more of them than one is able to see with the naked eye.”—William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Exposition on Galatians(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1968), p. 141.

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Tuesday: The Purpose of the Law — 4 Comments

  1. we have to know that is not for nothing God put the rules ,thats a manier for us to keep away from sin when you obey the law you see how far you are from be a child of God and what God want you to be away from all kind off things is not good for us,

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  2. "Some, believing that the word until in verse 19 (ESV) indicates that this law was only temporary, have thought the passage must refer to the ceremonial law, because the purpose of that law was fulfilled at the cross and thus came to an end. Though this makes sense by itself, it does not appear to be Paul’s point in Galatians."

    Actually, it is the only thing that does make sense, and any other explanation makes no sense at all.

    Paul's whole argument is a law that has been "added" can now be "subtracted." So adding the moral law makes no sense at all. Unless of course, you assume the moral law is now subtracted like many modern Protestants claim.

    Also, the moral law can not be "added" because of transgression, for if there were no moral law before, neither was there any transgression. For "sin is transgression of the law."

    If we let Paul speak for himself, there is no confusion. But when we endeavor to add something to what Paul has not said, confusion reigns.

    Every law has a purpose to both justify and condemn.
    The moral law condemns those who do not keep it, and it also justifies those who do.

    In the final judgment, God does not go over the life of Christ to see if you can be justified. Rather, He examines the books of record where every deed is closely investigated to determine the final outcome of any and all professed believers.

    While we are not there in person, we are there by way of the books of record. We can not assume the Jesus simply inserts Himself in our place, and if He is holy, we are justified and accepted. This is no way represents the biblical view of the final judgment.

    As clearly presented in the bible and affirmed by EGW as well, our final justification is based on a sanctified and obedient life. The merits of Christ added to the believers obedience is the final cause of salvation.

    Bill Sorensen

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    • Dear Bill,
      There is one thing that bothers me so much from your comments here. You have said "In the final judgment, God does not go over the life of Christ to see if you can be justified. Rather, He examines the books of record where every deed is closely investigated to determine the final outcome of any and all professed believers". Does this mean that we are going to be judged for not keeping the law rather than believing and trusting Jesus the ultimate sacrifice for our past, present and feature sin? No matter hard we try to keep the law, we will never be righteous in His sight by our good works. We keep the law because we are saved out of love for the price paid for us not because it will make us pure and acceptable in His sight. That is Paul trying to teach us in here. One thing I know and believe is true faith in him will force us to live a holy life by God’s grace and power. As long as we are attached with the good vine, he is faithful in producing fruits in our life. The work of salvation, righteousness and even sanctification, in our lives is His and only His job not ours at all.

      God bless

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