Law vs Grace

Only one can save

Read Galatians 3:1-19

As we read this passage of scripture, we see some very important discoveries. Galatians is a book that defends justification by faith in Christ alone and warns against reverting back to the Law as a means of salvation.
Verse 19 is a key verse in the law vs grace argument. The key phase being “till the seed should come”.
The Law was never given to bring salvation, but to lead one to the one who could bring salvation.

Galatian 3:19 – Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Wherefore – why was the law given?

  • It was added because of the sin already present.
  • The law as given to show the depravity of man because of man’s sin.
  • Man is by nature (naturally) a sinner.
  • All the law could do was reveal the sinfulness of man.
  • The law is just a reflector of the sin that is already in man’s heart. It mirrors what is already there.
  • A mirror lets you see what is outside, but a mirror cannot clean what is on outside.
  • The law does not wash away sin.
  • The law only proves that man is indeed a sinner, incapable of keeping the law or saving himself.
  • It was temporarily till. Till literally means the temporary will be replaced by something else.
  • The something else was a somebody else, Jesus Christ.
  • He fulfilled the law.

Hebrews 10:1-10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Once for all.
That settled it.
There is no more offering for sin.
He paid the bill in full once and for all.

In this passage, we learn that no sacrifice under the old covenant offered year by year can save the lost. It is impossible for any other sacrifice but Jesus to take away sin. God the Father is not eternally satisfied with burnt offerings or sacrifices as a payment for sin.

Isaiah 53; 11  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Isaiah 53:11

Jesus came to do the Father’s will. 

Note Hebrews 10:9 (Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second) this verse tells us He came to remove the first covenant and or establish (set up) the second and permanent one.
The old was not perfect in that it could not produce salvation.
The second was perfect in that it is the only way to receive salvation.

John 14:6 -Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
We are made acceptable in Christ, not in our own merit or works.

Let’s look at three key words in Galatians 3:19 –

Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Galatians 3:19
  1. Added – To add means something else existed first and remains. Something is added to what already existed, it does not replace what existed. In this case, sin existed and the law was added. Sin still remained. The Law was not a stand alone document.
  2. Till – The word signifies a limited time. It would last until it was over. If I announce that we are going to have workday on Saturday from 8 till 12 one could rightfully assume that at 12:00 we are finished with the work. We worked until 12:00 then we were finished. The law was established until.
  3. Seed – The law was added until the seed came. The seed fulfills the Law, He does not add to the Law.

Matthew 5:17-20 tells us who the seed is. 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

  • The law was not abolished, it was fulfilled.
  • Its purpose today is the same.
  • It points out the sinfulness of man.
  • It does not save sinful man.
  • The righteousness of man is never enough to satisfy a Holy God. The only way to satisfy a Holy God is for us to receive His holiness through Christ.
  • The word fulfill means to render full or complete.
  • Jesus lived a sinless, perfect life, fulfilling (completing) all points of the Law.
  • He then took all our sins with Him to Calvary offering His blood as payment (ransom) for our sin.
  • He took our sin upon Himself on that Cross.
  • This makes it possible for us to be righteous.
II Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:21

This verse of scripture shows us we are made in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

We are not made worthy in our righteousness, but in His.
Galatians 3:23-26 clarifies this even more. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Paul refers to we, our and us in verses 23-25.
In verse 26 he transitions to ye.

Who is he referring to?

In verse 23-25 he is referring to his Jewish roots.
He was Jewish by birth.
In verse 26 he was referring to a different group, the Gentiles, who were not Jewish.
They however were trying to satisfy God by keeping of the Law.
It was not what God intended for them.
The law just reminded them of that sinfulness until the seed came; Jesus came.
These Gentile believers had fallen back to keeping of the Law as part of their salvation.
Paul said this was not to be. The Law could not save, but rather was a reminder until the seed came. The Law had not passed away, but it had served its purpose. The outward observance of the law was over and that is a good thing.
Jesus is the only one who ever kept the whole law.

James 2:10 plainly states that the breaking of any one law is the same as breaking all the Law. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

In Galatians 3:10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Paul explains that the law produces a curse, IT DOES NOT PRODUCE SALVATION.
Instead the law condemns.
That which condemns cannot be the remedy.
Jesus on the other hand did not come to condemn, but to remove the condemnation that the Law points out.

John 3:16-18 clearly shows this. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. We are saved by grace through faith.

Works, the keeping of the Law has absolutely nothing to do with one’s salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Grace received by faith, plus nothing.

Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

If the Law could save, then Jesus died in vain.
Why would He die if the payment was already available? It wasn’t so He did.


We are bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus did what we could not do in the flesh. He fulfilled the law and took our sin debt to the cross and paid our sin debt in full. THIS IS LOVE!

Author: churchatliberty

Liberty is a Bible believing, Bible preaching church in the Wilmington, NC area. We invite you to check us out. Email me at for information about our church

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