Wherefore Then Serveth The Law?

Posted by on Oct 15, 2006

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

October 15, 2006

Sunday Morning

“Wherefore Then Serveth The Law?”

Scripture Text: Galatians 3:19-29

Introduction:

 

A.   If we have learned anything from our study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we’ve learned that salvation is by faith, and not by keeping the law of Moses.

1. Look back at Gal. 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

2. Paul put it like this in Rom. 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

3. And so, if we have learned anything from our study of Galatians, we’ve learned that salvation is by faith in Christ, and not be keeping the law of Moses.

 

B.   Now this raises a question.

1. If that is true, then why did God give the law to Moses?

2. In fact, Paul himself raises this question in our text.

3. Notice again how Vrs. 19 begins, “Wherefore then serveth the law?”

4. In other words, if the law of Moses did not nullify the covenant that God made with Abraham and his seed, and if we are not saved by keeping the law, then what purpose does the law of Moses serve?

5. If you will stop and think about it, that’s a very legitimate question.

C.   Now notice how Paul answers that question, again in Vrs. 19, “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions,”

1. The word translated “transgressions” here literally means “violations.”

2. What it is talking about is sin.

3. And so, what Paul is saying here is that the law was added because of sin.

4. Now because this is a very “general” answer to the question (What purpose does the law of Moses serve?), I would like use this opportunity this morning to answer the question more specifically.

 

D.   First of all, let me say that the law was added for the purpose of…

 

I.       Specifying Sin.

 

A.   Let me ask you a question.

1. How do we know what constitutes sin?

2. For example, we know that committing adultery (being unfaithful to our spouse) is a sin, but how do we know that?

3. We know that because of the law! (Amen?)

4. We know that committing adultery is a sin because in Exo. 20:4, the law plainly says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

5. That’s what I mean when I say that the law was added for the purpose of specifying (defining) sin.

 

B.   I want to show you a couple of verses in the book of Romans.

1. First of all, turn with me to Rom. 3:20.

2. Notice how the verse begins, it says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight:”

 

3. In other words, when it comes to being “justified” or being saved, keeping the law or trying to keep the law just isn’t going to cut it.

4. But someone says, “Well then, if we can’t be saved by keeping the law or trying to keep the law, then why did God give the law?

5. I’m glad you asked that question, because in the latter part of Rom. 3:20 we have God’s answer, it says, “…for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

6. The word translated “knowledge” here is a Greek word that literally means “recognition” or “discernment.”

7. And so, when Paul said that “…by the law is the knowledge of sin,” he was actually saying, “It is because of the law that we are able to recognize or discern what constitutes sin.”

 

C.   Now turn with me to Rom. 7:7.

1. We won’t take time this morning to read them, however, in the previous verses Paul points out that because of our new life in Christ, we are now dead to the law.

2. He then asks the question in the first part of Vrs. 7, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin?”

3. In other words, “Because for so many years we lived under the bondage and curse of the law, is the law a bad thing?”

4. Notice how God answered that question, Paul went on to say, “…God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”

5. Paul said, “No, the law wasn’t a bad thing. The law gave me the ability to recognize and discern sin in my life.

6. And so, God gave the law for the purpose of specifying sin.

 

D.   (Illus.- I’m sure most of you remember Judge Roy Moore who was removed from the bench because he refused to remove the “ten commandments” from his courtroom. They not only removed the ten commandments from his courtroom, they removed him as well. If you will stop and think about it for a moment, this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Why not? Because so many of the laws that Judge Moore had the responsibility of enforcing are based on the ten commandments. [Amen?] For example, why is it against the law to commit murder? Because God’s law says, “Thou shalt not kill.” Why is against the law to rob a bank? Because God’s law says, “Thou shalt not steal.” Why is it against the law to commit perjury? Because God’s law says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”)

 

E.   Not only does the law serve the purpose of specifying sin, it also serves the purpose of….

 

II.      Silencing The Sinner.

 

A.   (Illus.- Every now and then we will stand on the street in front of the Charles Town Post Office and conduct a religious survey. One of the questions that we ask is, “Do you consider yourself to be a sinner?” There was a time when almost everyone, without any hesitation, would have answered “yes” to that question. However, today, you would be absolutely amazed by how many people actually answer “no” to that question. Do you know why so many people today answer “no”? It is because they are ignorant when it comes to the law of God.)

 

B.   If the law of God does anything, it silences the sinner.

1. In other words, it stops all boasting about one’s personal goodness.

2. Turn with me to Rom. 3:19 (we looked at Vrs. 20 a moment ago).

3. Notice, first of all, the verses that come before Vrs. 19.

4. Beginning with Rom. 3:10, we read, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:…There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God….They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one….Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:…Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:…Their feet are swift to shed blood:…Destruction and misery are in their ways:…And the way of peace have they not known:…There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

5. Wow, these verses don’t paint a very pretty picture of man’s condition, apart from God, do they?

6. However, they do paint a very accurate picture!

7. Now notice Vrs. 19, Paul said, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

 

C.   (Illus.- Let me illustrate this truth. A few months ago, I tried something that I saw done on TV. I was talking to a man who, when I asked him if he considered himself to be a sinner, responded by saying, “Not really.” He proceeded to tell me why he considered himself to be a good person. I then began to ask him a series of questions. I said, “Sir, have you ever told a lie, even a little ‘white lie’?” Of course, he answered, “Yes.” I said, “Sir, God’s law says, thou shalt not bear false witness.” I then asked him, “Sir, have you ever taken something that didn’t belong to you, even something as small as an ink pen from work?” Again, he answered, “Yes.” I said, “Sir, God’s law says, thou shalt not steal.” I then asked him, “Sir, have you ever had lustful thought about any woman other than your wife?” Again, he answered, “Yes.” I said, “Sir Jesus said that, whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery in his heart.” I then asked, “Sir, have you ever taken the Lord’s name inappropriately?” Again, he answered, “Yes.” I said, “Sir, God law says, thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” I then said, “Sir, according to God’s law and by your own admission, you are a liar, and a thief, and an adulterer and a blasphemer.” I then said, “Sir, do you still consider yourself to be a good person?” I will never forget what he did then. He didn’t say a word, he just turned and walked away.)

1. That’s what God’s law will do.

2. It will stop someone from boasting about how good a person he is and make him stand guilty before God.

 

D.   And so, the law serves the purpose of silencing the sinner.

1. It can’t save the sinner, but it sure can silence the sinner.

2. Notice again Vrs. 21-22 of our text, Paul said, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law….But the scripture hath concluded all under sin.”

3. If the law serves any purpose whatsoever, it makes us aware of the fact that we are sinners, totally incapable of saving ourselves. (Amen?)

 

E.   Not only does the law serve the purpose of specifying sin and silencing the sinner, it also serves the purpose of…

 

III.    Showing The Sinner His Need For A Savior.

 

A.   Notice again Vrs. 23-24 of our text, “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed….Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith….But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”

1. It says “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.”

2. Now what does this mean?

3. Well, a school master does what? (He teaches.)

4. That being the case, what does the law teach us?

5. It teaches us, among other things, that we are in need of a Savior.

B.   Someone asks, “How does the law so that? How does the law show us that we are need of a Savior?

1. It does so by showing us how short we have all come of what God requires for heaven.

2. Let me ask you a question, “Do you have any idea what God requires of those who are determined to make it to heaven completely on their own?”

3. He requires nothing less than absolute perfection.

4. In other words, one would have to live his or her entire life without once violating any part of God’s law.

5. Of course, no one can do that!

6. That’s why when we compare ourselves to God’s perfect law, we quickly realize that, as Rom. 3:23 tells us, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

 

C.   (Illus.- Let me illustrate. Have you ever been to an amusement park where, instead of age limits, they have measuring sticks at the entrance of each ride, showing how tall you must be in order to get on the ride? I’ve been to those amusement parks and I’ve seen many young children stand next to those measuring sticks, then walk away sadly because they were too short to get on the ride. In other words, they just didn’t measure up.)

1. God’s law is like a measuring stick.

2. God says, “If you want to go to heaven, this is how tall (good) you must be.”

3. However, when we measure ourselves with God’s measuring stick, we too have to walk away sadly. Why? Because we don’t measure up!

 

D.   But this is good! (Amen?)

1. It’s not good that we don’t measure up, but it is good that we realize this fact while we still have the opportunity to look for another way to heaven.

2. Is there another way to heaven? (I’m glad you asked.)

3. Do you remember what Jesus told Thomas in John 14:6?

4. Jesus had just told His disciples that He would soon be returning to His Father in heaven.

5. Thomas spoke up and said, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5)

6. It was then that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

7. According to these words, Jesus is really the ONLY way to heaven.

8. Once we realize this, we at least have an opportunity to trust Christ and to be saved.

 

E.   And so, the law serves the purpose of showing the sinner his need for a Savior.

1. Do you know what’s really sad?

2. The fact that even we have God’s law to show us our need for Christ, there are still multitudes who are convinced that they don’t need Christ, that they can make it heaven on their own.

3. Why is this sad?

4. It’s sad because unless they change their thinking, they are going to miss heaven altogether.

Conclusion:

 

A.   Now let’s go back to our original question.

1. If we can’t be saved by keeping God’s law, then why did God give His law to us?

2. What purpose does it serve?

3. Paul said it was “added because of transgressions.”

4. In other words, it serves at least three purposes.

5. First of all, it serves the purpose of specifying sin. (This is how we know what constitutes sin. The law of God defines sin for us.)

6. Secondly, it serves the purpose of silencing sinners. (It stops all boasting about one’s personal goodness.)

7. Finally, it serves the purpose of showing the sinner his need for a Savior.

 

B.   Let me ask you a very personal question.

1. Are you saved?

2. If not, it could be that the reason you are not saved is because you have not yet realized your need for a Savior.

3. Let me ask you this, “Have you, from the day you were born until now, kept perfectly every law of God?”

4. Of course you haven’t. (No one has!)

5. That’s why you need a Savior.

6. I can assure you that Jesus stands ready and willing to forgive you of your sin and save your soul, if you will only call upon Him.

 

C.   Before I close, let me point out one more thing about our text.

1. Every person who has placed his or her faith in Christ as Savior, no matter…

-who you are,

-what your background,

-what part of the world you are from,

-what your ethnic or cultural background,

-whether you are male or female,

we are all equally saved!

2. We are all equally Abraham’s seed.

3. We are all equally heirs of the promises that God made to Abraham.

4. Look at Vrs. 28-29, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus….And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

5. Somebody say, “Amen!!