Not under law

“Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:21-29, NASB.

The law, according to the writings of Paul, has its purpose, but it isn’t the purpose we may think. I have grappled with all kinds of metaphors to illustrate this, such as forest for the trees, clanging cymbal in a symphony, carburetor in an engine, anything that shows that too close a focus on one thing alone out of context makes understanding it impossible.

The law very much has its place, it is just that the place isn’t a personal resolve to obey. The law is a flashlight that shows the skeletons in the closet, but a flashlight cannot lift a single mote of dust with its light beam. Does that make the flashlight bad or wrong? Of course not. God doesn’t just point the law at us and say, “aren’t you foul!” He points to say, “you might need some help there.”

So we have this spelled out in Galatians. Look at v. 24 and 25, read it close. The law has become our “tutor” – what does he mean? It leads us to Christ, because it sets up a moral standard that we have trouble fulfilling, pointing us to the need for something better, something beyond that. He is quite clear in this passage that we are no longer under this tutor, now that faith has come, we are NO LONGER UNDER A TUTOR!

Which law is he talking about? By what standard are we to pick and choose which laws are obscure and no longer to be applied to Christians and which laws are still in force? We’re probably still under the ones that make sense to us now, right? Just the real important ones. All those weird old-fashioned ones are the ones he is talking about here, we’re not under those weird ones. On what basis do we distinguish? If you think back to all of your teaching and learning as a Christian person over the years, this point has always been a little fuzzy hasn’t it? It is fuzzy because PAUL DOESN”T DISTINGUISH. The ENTIRE LAW is our tutor, the ENTIRE LAW is the thing we are no longer under because of faith. He doesn’t just mean, you no longer have to get circumcised and you no longer have to observe the feast of booths. He means you no longer HAVE to observe ANY of it.

See why this question arises over and over in Paul’s writings – “Is the Law bad then? You mean, we don’t have to do the law? You mean we can simply do anything we want? Should we sin more so grace can increase?” If you are grokking this correctly, those are precisely the right questions. The answer is not, “Oh, I didn’t mean that, of course you have to do the big important laws. Only certain laws are the ones you are no longer under, and you’ll have to figure which ones out since Paul is so ambiguous about what he means.” He isn’t ambiguous – he says “the Law”, and he means the WHOLE LAW. So the answer is, no, you don’t have to be under the law, any of it. It simply doesn’t work that way any more, if you are under faith/grace/Holy Spirit. It doesn’t mean you look at your skeleton laden closet and say, wow, I just love skeletons! It means, I won’t be condemned for them, and I can be certain of help cleaning them up.

Doesn’t this passage, and all the rest of Paul’s writings, start to make sense now? When Jesus nails us all for even having an idle angry thought as being murderers, he is pressing the law as a tutor to lead us to the place of the tax-gatherer who couldn’t lift his head when he prayed, and said “have mercy on me, a sinner!” This is how Jesus had such exact harsh moral teachings and yet just as clearly pressed teaching about mercy and grace and had sinners throwing parties for Him. Jesus isn’t schizophrenic, He just happens to think exactly along the same lines as Paul does. Why is that weird? The law takes us to that place that says, “I really do need help, I don’t want to do this any more.” And it is this tax-gatherer/sinner, not the self-righteous pharisee, who went away justified. When he tells them, go and learn this, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, He means it in a most personal and profound way. He wants us to let the law corral us to the place of grace.

So, Robert Krause :), we are no longer under the law, it is spelled out here and in many places in the writings of Paul. Grace puts the law in perspective, but we find that the law does not really attempt to put grace in perspective. That would be the wrong way around.

In the end, we are deliriously, deliciously free. Free indeed. When our motorcycle falls down, grace helps us back up. Despite our glaring and horrible faults, God remains our Father who welcomes us back, who always loves us, who quickly restores our dignity, who celebrates us. We are ever His pearl, His precious obsession. The law only serves to lead us to this place, this great romance. The gospel, this real gospel, the gospel which is according to the whole message of scripture, is really really great happy stuff. It makes me genuinely glad to be a believer, I have something real and beautiful and substantial to believe, something true.

Posted in Scandalous Grace and tagged , .


  1. The Word made Flesh (Yeshua) said:"Don't think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah – not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness is far greater than that of the Torah-teachers and P'rushim, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven!" "If you love me, you will keep My Commands""Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.""Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants (ie: Torah) On that Day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! Didn't we prophesy in your name? Didn't we expel demons in your name? Didn't we perform many miracles in your name?' Then I will tell them to their faces, 'I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!' (ie: they did not keep Torah — they were LAWLESS – WITHOUT THE LAW)And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." Then he said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; 19 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." Matthew 24:20 "pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; (why would he say that if the Sabbath was cancelled?)In Him…Robert

  2. In Revelation it says:"The dragon was infuriated over the woman and went off to fight the rest of her children, those who obey God's commands and bear witness to Yeshua.""This is when perseverance is needed on the part of God's people, those who observe his commands and exercise Yeshua's faithfulness."Blessed are they who do His (YHWH's) Commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city." God said:"So I took them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man (notice He said MAN, not JEW…) observes them, he will live. Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.""Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: 'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.""Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.'"God also said:"'Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when he brings an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. For the generations to come, whenever an alien or anyone else living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, he must do exactly as you do. The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD: The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.'""The same teaching is to apply equally to the citizen and to the foreigner living among you.""'If an alien sojourns among you and observes the Passover to the LORD, according to the statute of the Passover and according to its ordinance, so he shall do; you shall have one statute, both for the alien and for the native of the land.'""Then you shall say to them, 'Any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to offer it to the LORD, that man also shall be cut off from his people.""Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law."Which might be why Paul said:"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."In Him…Robert

  3. Paul also said:"Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. For example, I would not have become conscious of what greed is if the Torah had not said,"Though shalt not covet." "So the Torah is holy; that is, the commandment is holy, just and good.""All Scripture that was written by the Spirit is profitable for instruction and for decisive refutation, and for correction, and for deep extensive learning in righteousness; that the man of Elohim may become perfect and complete for every good work""Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law…."John said:"By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.Yeshua, Paul, all the disciples and most of the early church were Torah observant, feast celebrating, Kosher eating, Temple worshiping, tzit-tzit wearing died in the wool Jews! Yeshua could not be the Messiah if he canceled even the proper punctuation of YHWH's perfect instructions (which he delivered in person by the way). It seems odd, simplistic and convenient to attempt to nullify 99% of scripture with 1% of scripture. While I agree that it is only by Grace through faith that we can be made right (or be reconciled) with God I also believe that if you make no attempt to live by his perfect instructions you don't know him, love him, or have faith in him. I might suggest further study is in order.In him…Robert

  4. An analogy:Becoming fluent in Spanish (learning and practicing the Torah) will force all Spanish speakers (God) to accept me and be my friend. As opposed to:Becoming fluent in Spanish (learning and practicing the Torah) because I love Spanish speakers (God) so much that I want to be more like them (Him) and improve my ability to be in relationship with them (Him).RobertP.S. This example could be applied to the reciting the sinners prayer and attending church as well as Torah obedience.

  5. Also in regards to your Galatians scriptures; "In the most ancient manuscripts in the Peshitta, taraa is 'tutors'; however, it was translated as the singular 'tutor' in Greek. Although the word taraa has the same spelling for both singular and plural, there are times such as here, when the grammar of the sentence does not directly reveal whether it is singular or plural. To correct this problem, the earliest scribes of the Peshitta inserted two dot plural markers called a syame above such words, as in this case. A Greek redactor could easily miss these and mistake a singular word for a plural, or vice versa. Aramaic texts are unanimous for when the syames appear, making these readings highly reliable. That being so, what we have here is the true tutor, Torah, being contrasted against false tutors, the Pharisees, who put their oral tradition above the written code of Moses and the Prophets. Such is a common refrain of Y'shua as well in places such as Matthew 15. Unfortunately, this passage was twisted into a "proof text" by anti-Torah Christians who wanted to distance themselves from the Faith of Avraham, Yitzak and Ya'akov."(stolen from website)I found this in other resources as well and seems to hold true. This information eliminates the contradiction with the entirety of scripture as well.For what its worth…Robert

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