The Purpose of the Law

John Koedyker

READ : Galatians 3:15-25

So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. (v. 24 NIV)

People often say, “Everything happens for a purpose.” Paul would agree. He says in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (NRSV). God also had a purpose in giving the law. First, the law defined sin; it showed Israel the difference between what was wrong and what was right. Secondly, the law was given to lead us to Christ. Since none of us can obey the law perfectly, we need another way to become acceptable to God. That way is through faith in Jesus Christ.

So is the law now useless to believers? Although Paul seems to be saying that, obviously he still sees some validity in the law. (See, for example, Colossians 3:5-9, 12-14.) In fact, most of his letters end with instructions to be obeyed. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said he came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it.

John Calvin emphasized the third purpose for God’s law. It is a guide for Christian living. Christians now obey the law not so that we will be saved, but because we have been saved. Obeying the law is our response to God’s grace in Christ.


Thank you, O Lord, for your law. May it always be a faithful guide for us in our lives. Amen.