Galatians 3:23, 24
There is a difference between having faith in something or someone and having THE faith that brings salvation. Paul said that before faith came, “we were kept under the law” (Galatians 3:23). He doesn’t mean that men had no faith, but that they had no object in which to place their faith so that they could receive salvation. He further says that they were “shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Galatians 3:23).
When Christ died on Calvary for the sins and sickness of all mankind, the faith for salvation was revealed. Man was now able to pursue salvation based upon Christ’s merit instead of their own works. It is for this cause that Paul said that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Galatians 3:24), meaning that the law was over us as a taskmaster, and we were under it as a slave. No man can ever live up to the standard of God’s perfect law, so when we try we find ourselves burdened down with guilt and condemnation.
The King James Version of this text says that the law was our schoolmaster “to bring us” to Christ, but the words “to bring us” are italicized, meaning that they are not in the original Greek. With those words removed, the meaning changes immensely. With the words there, it appears that the law drives us to Christ, but with them gone, it becomes apparent that the law was simply meant to stand “until Christ”:
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).
Now that we have Christ, we have no more need for the law. Why should we? Jesus fulfilled every demand of the law (Matthew 5:17) because He knew that we could never fulfill its demands. We receive of His benefits because He has lived this life to perfection. With the law fulfilled, we are now justified by faith in His finished work. This is THE faith that we were shut out from knowing as long as we trusted in the law for our salvation.
To go back to dependency on works and the law is to treat the cross as if it never happened. This is why Paul says that it is impossible to have salvation if you put Christ and His cross to an open shame (Hebrews 6:6). When a Christian resorts to the works of the law to achieve righteousness, they are saying with their actions that Jesus’ price at Calvary was not enough and that they think their salvation should come by their ability instead of Jesus’ ability. How dare us!
Take Paul’s next statement with you as you face your day: