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.
All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We, who are new creations in Christ, were confined by sin but Jesus Christ has paid the full debt for our sins. We became debt-free when we believed in Jesus. Sin no longer is our master. We are no longer kept in line by the Law but now are under Grace. The Law is no longer our tutor.
Until Jesus paid the debt for our sins, we were” confined.” We were “kept” in check by the Law. We were waiting for Jesus to come and set us free from sin’s bondage. We were imprisoned under guilt and condemnation with the Law as our jailer.
Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to set us free from the unforgiving imprisonment of guilt and condemnation the Law gives (1 Corinthians 15:56-57). As humans, we have a consciousness of sin and are always looking inward at ourselves. The Law revealed sin. But the Law’s standards were so high we could never attain them. It prevented us from ever obtaining salvation through our own efforts. The Law tried to make us behave. It pushed us to live holiness. In the process, it revealed to us the futility of our own efforts. We couldn’t save ourselves. The Law prepared us for the gift of Christ’s redeeming work of Grace.
Only Christ could keep the Law perfectly. It is an incredible relief to us! We know so well we cannot perfectly keep the Law. We cannot make sense of our own lives. How could we ever justify our lives to God? Only faith alone in Jesus justifies us.
The Law is still in force. If you live under the Law, it still has to be met. But it has been met in Christ’s work of Grace. If we believe in Jesus’ finished work of redemption, we now are under Grace. The Law has been met for us by Jesus. If the Law is no longer our tutor and we no longer have a need for a tutor, then how do we lead a holy life? We live a holy life by putting our faith in Jesus’s perfect payment for our inability to live a perfect life.
Just as we chose to place our faith in Jesus for salvation, it is also our choice to place our faith in Jesus to live a holy life. The Holy Spirit is now our teacher, and He leads us to live His righteousness. We can choose to listen to the Holy Spirit or not to listen to Him. God gave us the free choice to choose Jesus as our Savior. He gives us a free choice to live a holy life. If you are born again by faith in Jesus, you have the power to live a holy life. And why wouldn’t you want to live a holy life? Trying to keep the Law to gain righteousness is frustrating and futile. It is exactly what the Pharisees did. But living a holy life by faith in Jesus keeps you in an intimate relationship with Jesus. When you toy with the idea of sin, you are risking your intimacy with God. Why would you ever want sin to destroy your intimacy with God? But when you know that Jesus has crucified your sin nature and you allow that truth to define your life, you fight sin with the power of the Holy Spirit—not with the letter of the Law.
Paul writes in Romans 6:14 that sin is no longer our master—that we are no longer under the Law. We are under Grace. The Law couldn’t save us so it is no longer our master. Only Jesus could save us. The life we live in this human flesh, we don’t live by the letter of the Law. We live by the faith of the Son of God who gave His life for us. We can’t “crucify” ourselves enough or “sacrifice” ourselves enough. Trying to justify ourselves by keeping the Law is in vain. We have been crucified with Christ, and it is Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20-21).
God’s standard of righteousness is His alone, and Jesus alone could meet it. In contrast to the works of the Law, is the work of faith. Works of the Law attempt to earn a relationship with God. The work of faith is the fruit of our relationship with God. We live by faith in Jesus. We don’t live by a standard only Jesus could meet. We need to honestly look at ourselves and ask if the Law is our master. Paul wrote that whatever in our lives is not from faith, is sin (Romans 14:23).
Holiness is not found in our actions. The Law looks at the outer man and his actions. Holiness is found in the human heart that has been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. And that heart is set free from sin to live a holy life. We choose to live a holy life because true Grace teaches us to live a holy life (Titus 2:11-12).
It is impossible to live a holy life by keeping the Law. But it is not impossible to live a holy life by faith in Jesus. We live for God by faith and not by the sight of our human inadequacy. We believe by faith that we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Paul tells us how:
“Through the Law I died,” he wrote, “so that I might live for God” (Galatians 2:19).
© 2023 Lynn Lacher