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Why Then The Law?, Part 6

October 10, 2010 Pastor: John Fonville Series: Galatians

Scripture: Galatians 3:19–3:22

Why Then the Law?

Part 6


Text: Galatians 3:19-22


October 10, 2010




“What I need first of all is not exhortation, but a gospel, not directions for saving myself but knowledge of how God has saved me. Have you any good news? That is the question that I ask of you. I know your exhortations will not help me. But if anything has been done to save me, will you not tell me the facts?” (J. Gresham Machen in his book, Christian Faith in the Modern World, p. 57).




V.       The Law imprisons everyone under sin. v. 22


How does the law imprison?


A.       The Law imprisons by demanding but not giving.


B.       The law imprisons by bringing conviction of the spiritual extent of the Law.


C.       The law imprisons by bringing conviction of one’s sin and sin nature.


D.       The law imprisons by bringing conviction of guilt.


“As by the precept of the law, the man comes to get the knowledge of the intrinsical evil of sin in its nature; so by the penalty of the law, he comes to get the knowledge of the consequential evil of sin, as binding him over to hell, death, and damnation; that the curse of God, the wrath of God, the vengeance of God is the…train of attendants that accompany sin:

…so the man is put in fear of hell and damnation. It may be, when he goes to bed, he shall never rise again; when he goes out, he thinks he shall never come in again; he is afraid his meat choke him, or the house fall above his head, or the earth open and swallow him up: sense of wrath haunts him like a ghost;

the man is put in prison, and concluded under sin…Sin is the prison, the sinner is the prisoner, God is the judge, and the curse of the Law is the bond by which the prisoner is tied neck and heel; and from this prison there is no escape, without the mercy of God in Christ,” (Ralph Erskine, “Law-Death, Gospel-Life,” p. 31).


Why does the law imprison?


“It follows, therefore, that the Law with its function does contribute to justification- not because it justifies, but because it impels one to the promise of grace and makes it sweet and desirable. Therefore we do not abolish the Law; but we show its true function and use, namely, that it is a most useful servant impelling us to Christ. After the Law has humbled, terrified, and completely crushed you, so that you are on the brink of despair, then see to it that you know how to use the Law correctly; for its function and use is not only to disclose the sin and wrath of God but also to drive us to Christ,” (Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 26, p. 315).


“…the principal purpose of the Law in theology is to make men not better but worse; that is, it shows them their sin, so that by the recognition of sin they may be humbled, frightened, and worn down, and so may long for grace and for the Blessed Offspring,” (Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 26, p. 327).




“O! is there any poor prisoner here, that finds himself shut up in prison, under the power of sin, and under the guilt of sin, and wrath of God? O let this give you some comfort for the present, till God loose your bands, that this is the way God is taking to make you dead to the law, that you may live to God.” (Ralph Erskine, “Law-Death, Gospel-Life,” p. 31).


“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price,” (Rev. 21:17).


© John Fonville

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