The Purpose of the Law - The Warrior's Journey®

The Purpose of the Law

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“What I am saying is that as long as an heir is under age, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elementary principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” (Galatians 4:1-5) 

In the ancient Greco-Roman world, the sons of wealthy land owners were placed under the charge of a slave, called a “paidagogos.” This slave was a stern disciplinarian who administered the harsh training that the father and mother couldn’t bring themselves to do. This discipline was necessary to prepare the son for both manhood and for leadership in society. Once the son came of age, he was delivered from the paidagogos and received full status as true son and heir of all his father’s estate. 

Beginning in Galatians 3:24, Paul explained that the Law served such a purpose in the Salvation History of mankind. The Law was the paidagogos which God placed us under to prepare us to be joined to Christ and receive full sonship. The Law was never intended to save us.  It was, however, intended to lead us to the Savior. The Law served this purpose by revealing to us God’s holiness and our own sinfulness. Like a stern disciplinarian, the Law placed God’s standards of perfection upon us, yet gave us no power to rise to those standards. In Romans 7:5-13, Paul explains that the Law could not tame the sinful nature in us. It only succeeded in aggravating it and leaving us in a far worse state than when it found us. But through this painful process, we became keenly aware of our own powerlessness to meet God’s standards. 

But once we came to faith in Jesus Christ, the Law no longer has jurisdiction over us. Paul had told us in Romans 10:3-4 that Christ signaled the end of the Law as a means for righteousness in our lives. Now, when we place our faith in Jesus, God forgives our sins and clothes us with His righteousness freely as a gift. What the Law could not do, God did by sending His Son who, by His death and resurrection, brings an end to sin’s reign in our lives. Christ cleanses us, forgives us, regenerates us, and empowers us to do God’s will (Romans 8:1-17).   

The Law’s only purpose for the Christian believer now is for our illumination and insight into the person and work of Jesus Christ, which its many sacrifices foreshadow. The Law’s moral code (e.g. Ten Commandments) is also instructional to us. But its ceremonial requirements and dietary restrictions are no longer binding (e.g. Mark 7:19). Thus, we are no longer under its guardianship, but are full sons of God in Christ. 


  • Jesus said He did not come to destroy the Law but to _____ it (Matthew 5:17)? 
  • Now that we are joined to Jesus Christ does the Law have any claim upon us? 
  • Jesus has replaced the Law. Let’s focus our faith and dependence on Him. 

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