What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
John MacArthur has written:
After showing the superiority of the covenant of promise, Paul shows the inferiority of the covenant of law, first in regard to its purpose, then in regard to its mediator, and finally in regard to his accomplishment. Why the law then? What is the purpose? It was added because of transgressions,(vs.19). In light of Paul’s convincing argument up to this point, the obvious question would be, why the law then? If salvation has always been by faith and never by works. And if the covenant of promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, what purpose did the law have? Paul’s answer is direct and sobering: ‘It was added because of transgressions.’ The purpose of the law was to demonstrate to man his total sinfulness, his inability to please God by his own works, and his need for mercy and grace. The law was added to show the depth of man’s transgressions against God. It was given to drive him to desperate guilt and the awareness of His need for the deliver. As the Apostle explains a few verses later, the law was a “Tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by Christ. That we may be justified by faith.” (vs 24). The impossible demands of the law were meant to compel men to recognize their violation of God’s standards and to seek His Grace through faith in His Son.
This week seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him has the law really done its work in your life? Questions to ask: Have I seen my sinfulness? Have I seen my inability to please God by my own works? Have I been driven to desperate guilt and the awareness of my need for the Savior? Has the law truly led you to Christ? Study Romans, chapter 7 this week for a greater understanding of the law.
Listen to this message: