About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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The Law – Our Slave Guard 

"...The Law was our school-master to bring us to Christ…" (Gal. 3:24 KJV) The NIV says "the Law was put in charge to bring us to Christ". The Revised Standard says "the Law was our custodian". The New KJV says "the Law was our tutor". R. C. Lenski says "the Law was our slave-guardian". Lenski and others point out that what the King James Version calls school-master was definitely not a school teacher as we would know it today. What was meant was more on the lines of what Lenksi calls a slave-guardian.

In Jewish culture fathers would often buy a slave to constantly watch over a son from the age of 7 to 17. This person was more than a dispenser of knowledge, more than a teacher. He did everything but punish the boy. That was left to the father. He would keep guard over the boy and watch every move he made to make sure it was right. He would be constantly after the boy to learn what it meant to obey.

Gal. 3:23 says "we were held prisoners by the Law, locked up…" The Law kept us imprisoned in our sin. It stood guard over us and would not let us go. It was constantly there reminding us how wretched and miserable we were in our sin. These words may sound foreign to us in today's world, including our Christian world. We seem to have forgotten the Scriptures that tell us our sinful state apart from Christ and how awful it is in God’s eyes .

The duty of the Law was more than to tell us that we were sinners. It was like the slave-guard watching over a 7 year old Jewish boy. If you understand the Law properly it hovered over the Old Testament Jews as a communist guard watching over imprisoned Christians. It kept an eye on them every second of the day, telling those people that they were no good, fallen beyond any help, and as Isaiah put it, even our righteousness is as "filthy rags". (Isa. 64:6)  Filthy rags here means, rags that have been bloodied from a woman's period.   

This is how God saw fallen man, and still does today. This is why He did something about the situation. Gal. 3:24 says that the Law was a guard over us until Christ came. When Christ came and told us that we needed to "trust Him for getting us out of our dilemma", the Law was done away with. Rom. 10:4 clearly states that "Christ is the end of the Law" (NIV). The guard was to leave, thrown out as Paul said in Gal. 4:30. We were set free from its ever present nagging. The Law and the punishment for our wretchedness is gone, when we trust Jesus with our lives. He no longer sees us in this horrible state, even though we are far from perfect. How wonderful it is to be free from the Law. Instead of having it bugging us all the time, we have Jesus by our side. What a difference.


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