“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”
What purpose then does the law serve?
Paul now turns to the purpose of the law (3:19-25).
It was added because of transgressions,
God gave the law to identify when man crosses the line of God’s standards. The law shows God’s character. A “transgression” is stepping across a line, disobeying a clear command. The purpose of the law is to show us that we more than missed the mark of God’s holiness but that we stepped across an obvious line in doing so. We crossed a line into prohibited territory.
Sin was always sinning, but a law made it a transgression. Murder was always sinning, but it did not become a transgression until God put it into the Ten Commandments. It would be impossible to play a football game without lines marking certain boundaries.
God never designed the law to annul His promise. God annexed the law to serve grace. It never added anything to grace. It serves grace by showing us that we cannot earn or deserve any merit before God, for we have already crossed God’s standards.
“Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more…” (Romans 5:20).
till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;
The law temporarily served the purpose of showing our transgressions until the Messiah came [the Seed]. Our failure to keep the law shows our need for a Savior.
and it was appointed through angels
The word “appointed” denotes the ideas to arrange, set in order, prescribe. The law has two mediators: angels and Moses. First, the angels gave Moses the law; then Moses gave Israel the law. Both brought precise descriptions of sin to Israel.
by the hand of a mediator
The mediator is “Moses.” God gave the Abrahamic covenant without a mediator because that covenant was a unilateral contract. God was the only person establishing the provisions of grace. The Mosaic law required mediators because it is bilateral (Deuteronomy 5:33)–mankind had a part, and God had a part. Mankind’s part was to obey, and God’s part was to bless. The kink in the armor was mankind couldn’t keep its part of the bargain.
The purpose of the law is to show us our desperate need for the Savior.
The purpose of the law is to show us our desperate need for a Savior, our need for grace. The law cannot give us what grace can give us. The law cannot save our soul.
God gave the law to show sin in its true light. It shows violation of God’s laws and thus of God’s character. The law does not make people sinners but transgressors.
It is important to know why God gave the law so that we do not misuse or abuse it. If you know the purpose of iodine, you will not drink it! The law will curse us if we misuse it. If we use the law to get ourselves to heaven, it will land us in hell. If we depend on ourselves for salvation, God will prosecute us to the full extent of the law. The law puts the skull and crossbones on the bottle of poison.
The law is like a mirror that reveals our dirty face so that we can wash it in the blood of Christ. We do not wash our face with the mirror. That is not the purpose of a mirror. The purpose of the law is to show us that we are bankrupt morally; therefore, we need a Savior.