One of the most misunderstood phrases in the Apostolic Writings is “under the law”. “Under the law” appears 10 times as in reference to an individual or group, and carries with it a negative connotation. One of my greatest desires for the church today is that we would have a healthy understanding of God’s Torah, and fulfill it in the spirit of faith and love. Because of this desire, I find it essential that believers understand the meaning behind the phrase “under the law”. Only when we discover the correct interpretation of “under the law” can we truly appreciate the work of the Messiah and properly live as He lived.

I plan on addressing every occurrence of this phrase in Scripture by using a numbered list. Every scripture I address will build upon the previous one, yet they all can stand alone as a specific thought, as well. I will start by first giving an overview of what “under the law” implies by interpreting Paul’s usage of the word law.

  1. Understanding Legalism and Paul’s Usage of the Word “Law”
  2. What Does “Under the Law” Mean?
  3. Who is “Under the Law”? – Romans 3:19-20
  4. All Things to All People – 1 Corinthians 9:19-22
  5. Imprisoned Under Sin – Galatians 3
  6. The Law as a Guardian – Galatians 3:23-29
  7. Adoptions as Sons – Galatians 4:1-7
  8. Some Desire to be “Under the Law” – Galatians 4:21-26
  9. Led by the Spirit – Galatians 5:16-26
  10. Doing What is Right

1) Understanding Legalism and Paul’s Usage of “Law”

The multiple meanings of the word law can lend itself to confusion when interpreting Scripture. I want to focus on three main meanings of law in Paul’s writings. Firstly, it can refer to the entire volume of Hebrew Scriptures (Romans 3:19 includes the psalms and prophets inside the law). Secondly, the law can specifically mean the Law of God given through Moses (Luke 24:44). Thirdly, Paul uses the word law to imply the legalistic interpretation of God’s commands as used to obtain salvation. Because there is no Greek word for “legalism”, often times Paul would have to use the phrase “works of the law” or even simply “law” in place of the idea of legalism.

Legalism is any attempt by man to earn acceptance before God by their own works.
Understanding the purpose of the law is absolutely essential to rightly interpret Paul’s writings. God never intended His Law to be used as a means of justification. Any attempt by man to earn their justification before God by works of the law is a perversion of God’s purpose in giving the law. Yahweh intended that His Torah light the path to living rightly for those already delivered. Again, the Torah is not given as a means of earning redemption. Paul addresses this in Romans when he states that the whole reason Israel did not obtain righteousness is because they tried to obtain it through their own works. This legalistic attempt actually prevents Israel from exercising faith.

Romans 9:30 – 10:4

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

You can see through this Scripture that Israel failed to obtain righteousness because they refused to submit to God’s way of bringing righteousness, namely His Son the Messiah Yeshua. The fault doesn’t lie with the law, but with Israel. They refused, they rebelled, they didn’t have faith. Thus, they sought to establish their own righteousness through their works of the law (i.e., legalism) and in doing so completely missed the whole purpose of God giving the Law.

Therefore, it is important that one understands the distinction between those who try and earn righteousness by works of the law and those who walk according to Yahweh’s Torah as a response to being delivered by faith in the Messiah. So when reading Paul, realize that his usage of “under the law” is always in reference towards those who are trying to earn justification and a righteous standing before God based on their own works. Paul would never condemn or speak against those who obey the Torah as a proper response to being saved by faith in the Messiah.

2) What Does “Under the Law” Mean?

My interpretation of “under the law” is the state in which an individual is solely accountable for earning righteousness before God based on their own merit and works. This interpretation has a few key phrases so let’s unpack them one at a time.

  • “the state” – I chose the word “state” to communicate that someone’s “state” can change.
  • “an individual is solely accountable” – someone under the law can look to no other place for help.
  • “for earning righteousness before God” – being under the law implies that you must figure out a way to become good enough in God’s sight. And He is perfect, so you must become perfect in order to measure up to Him.
  • “based on their own merit and works” – part of earning your own righteousness implies that you must do it completely dependent upon your own capabilities and strength. You must work hard enough to earn your acceptance like a person would work to earn a paycheck. Salvation is no longer a gift but instead your due.

Just glancing at this interpretation quickly conveys the absolute enormity and absurdity of someone thinking they could be under the law and still earn justification. I arrived at and prefer this interpretation of “under the law” because I believe it flows inside of the whole counsel of Scripture. Everywhere I see Paul conveying the idea of “under the law”, I see this interpretation working beautifully in context.

Alongside this interpretation, there are two impacts to the individual that lives “under the law”. Both ramifications stem from the reality that no one can sufficiently earn their own righteousness. The impacts of an individual desiring to be “under the law” are:

  1. They are still slaves to sin because self-righteousness has no way of dealing with the law of sin and death.
  2. Because of the curse of the law of sin and death they are under the penalty of Torah, namely death.

To conclude, someone desiring to be “under the law” is not only incapable of earning justification, they are now under the wrath of God and completely subject to the power of sin and death. In other words, by desiring to be “under the law” they have made themselves slaves to sin, remain under the curse, and stay as enemies of God, effectually cutting themselves off from the Messiah and His grace.

3) Who is “Under the Law”? – Romans 3:19

Many preachers teach that only the Jews are “under the law”. This teaching then lends itself to the misconception that a Gentile who thinks the law is worth obeying is labeled as going back “under the law”. Both of these teachings are wrong and have caused much damage to faithful followers of Yeshua. So, let’s see what Paul says about who is “under the law”.

Romans 3:19-20

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

In light of this passage and possibly contrary to what you have believed, how do we know who is or has been “under the law”. I made a quick checklist for you based on this passage.

  • “every mouth” – Do you have a mouth?
  • “the whole world” – Are you a part of the whole world?
  • “no human being” – Are you a human being?

It is important to understand that Paul is building off the idea in Romans 3:9 that states all, both Jew and Greek, are under sin. Combining these ideas in the flow of what Paul is saying, the above Scripture is best understood as saying that the whole world lies “under the law” in terms of righteousness and sin. If you think about this for even a second it makes perfect sense. At some point in life, every single person is without the righteousness that comes from the Messiah. Therefore, whether they know it or not, they are bound in sin with their only chance for righteousness being through their own works or through faith. Either way, being “under the law” will hopefully have the effect on them of bringing them to faith, because they see their weakness and wickedness in light of Yahweh’s righteous requirements.

At some point in life, every single person who has ever been on this planet experiences being “under the law”.
Additionally, we know that earning justification is impossible, that’s why verse 20 follows by saying that by works of the law no human being will be justified in God’s sight. The verse then concludes by stating that through the law comes knowledge of sin. A person who is “under the law” will continually be convicted by the law as a transgressor and thus perpetually be shown their absolute inability to become justified by their own works. Their condition produces hopelessness because they are cut off from Messiah. From this condition, upon hearing the Word of God they can choose to receive the Word and begin trusting Yeshua for their righteousness.

All in all, God places everyone “under the law” because through the transgression of the law they are “under sin” in order that we may get to Romans 3:23 (which is in direct context with the above passages!):

Romans 3:21-26

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

*Author’s comments in brackets

So, to answer the question plainly, all people prior to salvation, are “under the law”.

4) All Things to All People – 1 Corinthians 9

1 Corinthians chapter 9 has been used to justify a lot of practices that I don’t think Yeshua would ever approve of! Inside this chapter, we have Paul infamously saying that “he became all things to all people”. So-called teachers have taken this verse and taught all forms of licentiousness and flat out heresy. As we explore a specific set of verses inside this chapter, you need to reconcile something within your mind immediately. Was Paul two-faced? Did he act one way around Jews and another around Gentiles? Because in Galatians he mentions rebuking Peter for doing just that! Yet in reality, most Christians think that Paul only obeyed the law of God when he was around Jews, yet while with Gentiles, he cast God’s laws behind his back!

Let’s take a look at this passage to get some insight into what Paul is really saying.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

The style of this verse is a Hebraic parallelism (all the writers of the Bible are Hebrews). This style is fairly common throughout the Scriptures. It is where an idea is taught through saying the same thing but multiple different ways. Each new phrase in a parallel structure brings more definition to the previous idea. I have highlighted in yellow the phrases that are parallel to one another, likewise, those in blue are also parallel.

To the Jews

“To the Jews, Paul became as a Jew” is parallel to the idea and further defined by the phrase that “he became as one under the law.” Paul’s usage of the phrase “under the law” in this context is not the same usage as in Romans 3 which we discussed above. Paul is not saying that the Jews are the only people group who were ever under the curse of the law because of sin, and unable to attain to righteousness in their own strength. As we have already addressed, all human beings are “under the law” in that sense. What Paul communicates through this parallel is the idea that he remained submitted to the authority of Pharisaical Judaism, including their punishments, in order to win some of them. He could have easily walked away from the traditions of Judaism because he was no longer “under the law”. An example of Paul staying submitted to their authority, including their punishments, is the reality that five times Paul subjected himself to their whippings and lashings (2 Corinthians 11:24). Because of Paul’s message, he could have easily been cut off from his fellow Jews if he would not have received punishment. Yet according to Judaism’s traditions expressed in the Mishnah, if a man subjected himself to lashings, he had to be received back as a brother (Makkot 3:15). Paul is clearly showing that “he became as a Jew to those under the law”, by receiving punishment for things that they deemed as wrong. As verse 19 states, he willingly gave up his freedom to walk away from man-made regulations and punishments, in order that he could remain inside the community of Jews and perhaps win some of them to the Messiah.

To Those Outside the Law

Paul then continues his parallel thoughts by stating that he became like those “outside the law” and “weak”. Again, Paul is referring to Gentiles here; a people group who are both considered “outside the law” and “weak” by the synagogues of Paul’s day. To note, Paul makes it clear that these people are still “under the law of the Messiah”, they are just considered as “outside the law” by the non-believing Jews. In the Jew’s mind, only a Gentile who underwent the process of becoming a proselyte could be considered inside the covenant of God and thus “inside the law”. So Paul is using vernacular familiar with this time period to emphasize that he became like the Gentiles in his understanding and teaching that they did not have to undergo proselytization in order to “become Jews” and be in the covenant of God. Paul is clearly not saying that when he was around Gentiles he did things that the law commanded not to do, instead, he affirms that even Gentiles “outside the law” of the synagogue are still “under the law of the Messiah”.

For while we were still weak, at the right time the Messiah died for the ungodly.
– Paul, to the believers in Rome

Paul’s usage of the word “weak” in verse 22 can easily be interpreted through the lens of Romans 5:6. In the eyes of the synagogue, a Gentile lacked the pedigree to be accepted by God. Paul argues that in terms of righteousness before God, we are all weak. Paul echoes that same thought in Romans by emphasizing that the Messiah died while we were weak. In other words, we had nothing to offer in terms of righteousness or salvation, yet our Father freely justifies us on account of His Son’s blood. This is the very same idea Paul discusses in Romans 3:21-27.

Be diligent concerning this passage to not misconstrue it to give a license to sin by neglecting our Father’s Torah. Paul never did anything against the Torah of God. He viewed it as holy and spiritual. In order to help you further understand this passage, I would recommend the article All Things to All Men, Paul and the Torah in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 by Tim Hegg, the founder of Torah Resource, a fellow believer and Bible scholar. I learned much through Tim’s article and would highly encourage you to read it for a deeper study of this passage.

5) Imprisoned Under Sin – Galatians 3

I would describe this section as a mandatory precursor to understanding the rest of the Scriptures from Galatians concerning being “under the law”. Admittedly so, Paul’s usage of law and “under the law” in Galatians can be difficult to understand. What we must do is take each section in context with the previous sections, as well as interpret Paul’s sayings here in conjunction with his other writings. We will start in chapter 3 of Galatians.

Additional Reading

If you need further understanding of the relationship between the book of Galatians and justification, please check out the following article. If offers great insight into the book of Galatians and the paramount issues of the gospel, justification, and law.

The overarching theme in the book of Galatians is justification. This theme reaches a critical point in chapter three. The conflict here is that there are some false teachers who are troubling the Galatians by teaching that justification before God comes through works of the law. They were teaching the believers in Galatia you could not be saved unless you were circumcised. Paul’s gospel clearly states that a person is justified before God (declared righteous) on account of their faith in the Messiah Yeshua.

In the beginning verses of Galatians 3, Paul is laying out the idea that no man is justified by works of his own doing (ie., “works of the law”). Through Galatians 3:10-14, Paul emphasizes that relying upon your own works to receive justification and the Spirit of God will only cause you to be under a curse.

We should park here for a moment and ask, “What curse?” The curse of the law of sin and death. The result of living under the law of sin and death is condemnation. Romans 5 address this very pattern,

Romans 5:12

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned

Romans 5:18

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

As sinners, people are incapable of freeing themselves from the mastership of sin. They are bound to sin as a slave is bound to his master. The result is that they reap the fruit of this bondage – death, which is also understood to be condemnation. It is from this understanding of the law of sin and death that Paul carries forward with his vehement opposition to anyone trying to earn God’s righteousness by “works of the law”. Paul realizes that trying to obey the law as a means of earning righteousness is impossible because through the law comes the knowledge of sin. In other words, until the curse of sin is dealt with in your life, you are required to obey it (sin) because it is your master. So without being freed from that curse, any attempt to do what the law says will only result in you transgressing even more, because your master, sin, will not let you obey righteousness. Do you see the problem? It isn’t God’s perfect and holy law that is the problem, but rather it is sin!

Continuing with this line of thinking, Paul reminds his audience in Galatians 3:15-20 that you can’t earn through works what God gives as a promise to be received by faith. Then, in almost prophetic anticipation, Paul hedges against people misunderstanding what he is saying about the law by writing the following.

Galatians 3:21-22

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Do you realize what he just said? Any teaching that attempts to pit the law against faith or the law against grace or the law against the promises of God is contradictory to Scripture and absolutely wrong. Paul then emphasizes that the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin. Everything that we have talked about in this section concerning righteousness and salvation can be summed up in this one statement. God places everything under the curse and power of sin, with the goal that we would see the need of deliverance from that sin and trust in the only one who can save us from our sins, Yeshua.

It is worth noting that the “Scripture” that places all under sin is actually referred to by Paul in Romans.

Romans 3:9-18

For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

I cannot stress enough how essential it is for you to understand Paul’s purpose in writing the book of Galatians. Everything he is addressing in this book is about salvation and justification. If we plan on correctly understanding what he says about being “under the law” we need to understand the context up to this point. Be sure you comprehend how we are all “under the law” and “under sin” in regards to righteousness. Also, know that God places us there in order to prove that no attempt by man to become justified by his own works will be accepted by God. Instead, only faith and trust in the work of God’s Son, Yeshua the Messiah, will result in justification that leads to eternal life.

6) The Law as a Guardian – Galatians 3:23-29

As we begin to address the first occurrence of the phrase “under the law” in Galatians, I can only reiterate the importance of remembering the context of this book – salvation. What we read here is Paul’s understanding of how the Torah functions in regards to the salvation and justification of a person. Let’s dive right in.

Galatians 3:23-29

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

As you can see I have highlighted phrases and words that I believe are pivotal in rightly dividing this passage. In order to convey each idea easily, I will use a few subheadings that will correspond in sequential order with each highlight, respectively.

“before faith came”

Before faith comes, what condition is a person in? They are in the flesh. What insight does Romans offer about our time spent living in the flesh?

Romans 7:5

For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

Paul begins this section by making sure we understand that this is our condition before faith comes into our lives. Even that which is good, the law, provokes us to indulge our sinful passions because we are in the flesh and slaves to sin. Think about the young, rebellious child who is walking down the aisle of the toy store. Often times, as soon as the parent or guardian says “Do not touch anything!” the child’s sinful passions are aroused to touch absolutely everything in the store! Why does a simple command from the guardian elicit this type of response? Because of sin dwelling in the flesh, provoked by the law.

While living in the flesh, we are no different when it comes to God’s holy law. The very things He tells us to abstain from are the very things sin convinces us we need. The result is we violate God’s commands and experience death, which is separation from God.


Paul then teaches that the person living in the flesh is held captive under the law as imprisoned. Now upon a cursory glance, this verse makes it look like the law imprisons us in the sense that the law doesn’t want us to be free to serve God. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Remember earlier we discussed all humanity being imprisoned under something; what was that? Galatians 3:22 and Romans 3:9 both tell us that we are imprisoned under sin.

I like to give an analogy to teach this principle. Imagine yourself sitting in this scenario: You break the law, stand before the judge to receive your sentence, and are locked away until your punishment is paid. You are put in a prison cell with a locked gate and a jailer guarding your cell. This story illustrates your life prior to faith.

The law you broke is God’s Torah. The judge is the Words of Yeshua (John 12:48). Your sentence is death – separation from God. Now up to this point, most people would have an easy time agreeing, yet let me ask you this, “Why are you imprisoned?” Is it the law’s fault? No! It is the fault of your sin. You are literally imprisoned on account of sin. The jailer guarding you is also the Torah. Imagine being locked away trying to plead with a jailer to set you free. Nonsensical right? That jailer doesn’t have the authority to reverse your sentence and set you free. Why? Because your penalty isn’t paid. Nothing you do in the jailer’s eyes (i.e., “works of the law”) will cause that jailer to open your cell and set your free. Likewise, the law of God isn’t put in place to set you free from sin, it merely guards you while you are in your slavery to sin. Only someone who pays the full penalty of your transgression can come and release you from the bondage of that prison cell.

Based on this story, what was holding you captive in that cell? The jailer, correct? Ok, so where did he get his authority to hold you there? It came down through the judgment rendered by the judge that was in accordance with the law. But why did that judgment render true? Because you were guilty. Guilty of what? Transgression of the law. So if the law, the judge, and the jailer are merely doing what they were put in place to do, then where does the problem lie? The transgressor. My point in saying this is to illustrate that God only fixes that which is broken. His law isn’t broken. In fact, it’s holy and spiritual! The sinner is “broken” because of sin. That is what God takes aim at to fix.

All this to say that when Paul uses “under the law” in verse 23, he indicates everything we have discussed. That a person, prior to faith, is imprisoned in their sin and “held captive” by the law. Another way of thinking about this is imagining if there was no law. That person would still be in bondage to sin, but they would never come to the realization that they need someone to pay their debt because they wouldn’t be required to give an account for their transgressions before the judge, nor would they experience the weight of their penalty of death. Because of this, God imprisons us to sin so that we can see the exceeding wickedness of sin and desire to be set free! This is exactly what Paul address so eloquently in Romans 7.

Romans 7:7-14

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

“the law was our guardian”

The word “guardian” here in Greek is paidagōgos (παιδαγωγός). A pedagogue was originally used to refer to a slave who would escort a family’s children to school. In this sense, all of the Torah’s instructions and laws serve to point to the source of life, Yahweh. Moses wrote about this after setting the Torah before the children of Israel when he said,

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Everything in the Torah acts as a pedagogue that brings the children (even if they do not want to go) to the true teacher, who is Yeshua. Just like when children don’t want to go to school to learn, the Torah will always be there to point the rebellious and stubborn children towards the teacher. This will occur until the children go willingly to learn the ways of the teacher. Does that sound familiar? It should. Our Father’s Torah will stand as a witness against us, and as a pedagogue, that whether through blessing or curse will keep showing us who the Master and Teacher is, the one we should be learning from and following.

The guardian, or pedagogue, is no longer necessary when the children willingly go to the teacher and desire to learn of his ways. This is the goal of the Torah as the guardian. By consistently witnessing and pointing to the source, the students might eventually have a change of heart and want to learn the ways of the Teacher. You can see this idea expressed through Paul in Romans 7:15-25. Likewise Yeshua witnesses to this reality as well.

John 5:39-47

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Did you notice that last section? “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” Wow. This is just further proof that the hardness of heart in the church today that exists towards Moses and his writings, namely the Torah of Yahweh, is only further preventing people from knowing the real Yeshua. Do you believe Moses? Do you believe that obedience to Yahweh’s Torah is loving Him, choosing life and holding fast to Him as described above in Deuteronomy 30:19-20? Or have you created a Jesus in your own image that doesn’t require you to believe Moses? You can’t have both, you either believe both of these passages or you don’t believe either. Choose.

The Torah, as the pedagogue, is doing its part. We, like stubborn children, are the ones who simply refuse come to the Teacher and learn of His yoke that we may have life.

“now that faith has come”

This part of the verse is the hinge on which everything else turns. If we believe the Torah and come to Yeshua to receive life, we are no longer “under a pedagogue”. Why? Because faith has come. Now, one can hardly describe everything that transpires, or rather should transpire, in the life of a person when faith comes. To begin, we must understand what faith is. Faith, specifically in this context, is trusting in the work of Yeshua as Messiah to pay the debt of transgressions that you owe, free you from the power of sin and death so that you may become a slave to God, give you a tender heart towards His commands, and deposit His Spirit within you as a guarantee of a future inheritance.

In an attempt to remain topical here, I would like to offer just one additional verse to help you understand how faith sets us free from sin that we may now serve God freely from the heart. We no longer need the Torah to be the pedagogue that points us to the Messiah whether we are interested or not. Instead, now that faith has come, we willfully, excitedly come to the Messiah to learn of His ways and follow Him.

Romans 6:17-18

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

In reality, this type of obedience that comes from the heart is what God has been desiring since the very beginning.

Deuteronomy 6:4-6

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

Once faith comes, we are no longer “under a pedagogue” since the disposition and nature of our hearts changes. It is no longer a burden or outward requirement to do what God says, instead, obedience becomes our joy and delight. Notice Paul’s closing statements in Romans 7.

Romans 7:22

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being

Romans 7:25

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

The question for those of us who profess the faith is, do we take great delight in the Torah of our God and serve it willingly with our whole hearts?

“sons of God”

When we begin to trust in the words of the Master and Teacher as the source for all life, we are born again as sons of the living God. Romans gives us a very clear picture of what a life submitted to the Spirit of God should look like. This sonship is marked by being led by the Spirit of God.

Romans 8:12-17

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

We actually jumped to the end of Romans 8 first, and will work back from the top after this verse. But this verse is important to show that the sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit of God. Re-read verse 13. Isn’t this what the Torah has been saying since the very beginning? That is, if you do what God says not to do you will die, but if you die to (or do not do) those things, you will live. Thankfully, through the Spirit of God dwelling within us, sin no longer has dominion over us to force us to obey its lusts. But really, listen to Moses and see for yourself if this sounds a lot like verse 13.

Deuteronomy 14:1

“You are the sons of the Lord your God.”

Deuteronomy 30:15-18

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.

Now that we know where we are headed in Romans 8, let us jump back to the top of the chapter. If we truly have been set free from the bondage of sin, then we should be fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law through living according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:3-4

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

What could the law not do? Free us from sin, why? Because sin gained its power from the curse passed down through sinful flesh. So when Yeshua condemns sin in the flesh upon the tree, He literally frees His children, the inheritors of His Spirit, to walk according to the Spirit and live righteously according to His Torah. In other words, He frees us from sin so that we may actually live like He lived! Hallelujah!

I believe it grieves the Father when people preach that God’s Torah is too hard to obey. Just listen to that statement. So, what you are saying is that the work of Yeshua was not powerful enough to free you from committing lawlessness? And that the Spirit of the Messiah dwelling within you is inept at empowering you to actually live righteously? The reality that Scripture paints is quite opposite from what most people preach. Just listen to the words of Yeshua in Luke 6.

Luke 6:46-49

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Let’s continue on with our passage in Romans to gain more insight into living according to the Spirit as sons of God.

Romans 8:7-9

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.

This passage is really quite simple to understand. Paul shows us that the fleshly person, which we were prior to faith, can’t submit to God’s Torah. This makes the person in the flesh hostile to God and unable to please Him. Yet Paul clearly states, “But you, brother, are NOT in the flesh, but in the Spirit.” The exhortation is clear: submit to God’s Torah and you will be able to discern what is pleasing to Him.

The bottom line of this section is that the sons of God will live their lives exactly as their eldest brother, Yeshua. Besides, it’s Him who we say we follow, it is He who took our sins, and His Spirit that dwells within us. We ought to walk exactly as He walked.

“baptized into Christ”

Getting back to our passage from Galatians, verse 27 operates as a parallel verse to verse 26. The idea of being in the Messiah as His son only comes through being baptized into Him. So much of what we discuss here could be read prior to the section on sons of God, and should be understood as essential truths necessary to lives as sons of God. Since the order in Galatians isn’t chronological, we also will be looking heavily into Romans 6, which also comes before many passages we have already discussed. So if you would like, you could read this section then go back through the previous sections to further aid your understanding.

Paul doesn’t expound upon “baptized into Christ” in Galatians whatsoever, but does indicate that through baptism we all become one in the Messiah. In order to understand his meaning here, we must venture into Romans 6 where he does tackle the subject of baptism. I do not plan to do a full exegesis on Romans 6 at the present time, but only want to highlight some key ideas that are pertinent to our topic.

Romans 6:1-7

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.

As I mentioned before, this section could easily fit into the section above where we discussed the change that occurs when faith comes. Paul teaches here that the action of trusting in Yeshua and becoming one with Him is through baptism. We are baptized into his death. And that death we die is a death to the law of sin and death. Whew, that’s a lot of deaths! In other words, sin only has dominion over us as long as we live in the flesh. Yeshua condemned sin in the flesh. Through baptism, we can die to the flesh and be raised again in the likeness of Yeshua. Through this resurrection, we no longer have to yield our bodies (flesh) as slaves to sin. We are now free to obey God! Amen!

Paul continues in Romans with this exhortation.

Romans 6:12-14

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Looking specifically at verse 12 I want to remind you of a verse we covered earlier and see if you notice a connection. Romans 7:5 indicates that while in the flesh, the law arouses sinful passions. (You can revisit the section titled, “before faith came” if you need a refresher.) But here Paul’s language indicates that we can choose to not submit to those passions. Furthermore, Paul encourages us to press on to not only deny the flesh, but then as verse 13 highlights, present our members to God as instruments of righteousness. This is the power of the grace of the Messiah operating through those who have been baptized into His death. If the flesh is provoked, we don’t have to listen to it!

In fact, by dying to that which holds us captive, sin, we are released from the provocation that comes from the law convicting us, and we can obey God’s righteous rules by His Holy Spirit. Paul indicates this in the very next verse in Romans 7.

Romans 7:6

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Through baptism and resurrection, we can now live as the Messiah lived in the newness of life by His Spirit. This is the best news of all! In fact, 1 John 4:17 actually indicates that love is perfected in us through us being like the Messiah is in the earth. Isn’t this the goal of Yahweh on the earth: to sanctify a people who live according to all of His Torah so that He may dwell among them? That was the reality, albeit short-lived, in the Garden. Immanuel desires to dwell amongst His people and be their God, but that has always required His people touching nothing unclean and being holy as He is holy. 2 Corinthians 6:16 – 7:1 makes it clear that as the temple of the Holy Spirit, we must bring holiness to completion in the fear of God. The grace and strength to do this only come through baptism into death and resurrection into newness of life by the indwelling Spirit.

Finally, my brothers and sisters, I want to turn your attention to grace. Through baptism into the Messiah, we get access to His grace. Let me leave this section reminding you how grace should operate in our lives.

Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

“Abraham’s offspring”

Additional Reading

I have written extensively on what it means to be a child of Abraham. If you would like to further your study on this subject please check out the following article.

The final section in Galatians 3:23-29 stresses the truth that if we are the Messiah’s, then we are Abraham’s offspring. Most people just gloss over that statement as a simple formality of nice additions to a long list of blessings we have received. Yet there is a profound truth laid up for us inside this phrase.

If we are Abraham’s offspring, then we will do the works of Abraham. Yeshua made this clear in John 8:39. What were Abraham’s works? God told Isaac in Genesis 26:5 that “Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my Torah.”

So the inescapable question staring us in the face is, do you do the works of Abraham?

7) Adoptions as Sons – Galatians 4:1-7

The next occurrence of “under the law” flows immediately after the Scripture we just examined. This is beneficial because so much of what we discussed above in point #6 is germane to this passage as well. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Galatians 4:1-7

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Contrary to some teachings I have heard, this passage doesn’t directly deal with the idea of being “under the law”. Paul doesn’t see the need to elaborate on this idea, so he simply mentions “under the law” twice, seemingly expecting his readers to have an understanding of his meaning. The main thrust of this passage deals with the topics of child vs. son and slave vs. heir. But to stay true to our article scope I will simply comment on the occurrences of “under the law”.

Firstly, Yeshua being born under the law could be understood in the typical fashion of this article’s presented interpretation. So rephrasing it could render, “Yeshua, born in the state in which He is solely accountable for His righteousness before God based on His own merit and works.” (Admittedly, this is a funny thing to ponder considering Yeshua came from the Father and was righteous from the onset.) Remember that when Paul deals with topics of “under the law” it is almost always in the context of salvation and justification. So simply put, Yeshua is born of woman, as a man would be subject to living “under the law” as all human beings are. Thus, the main point of Paul emphasizing that Yeshua is born “under the law” is to identify him with the plight of humanity.

One of the main purposes of Yeshua’s humanity is written in verse 5, “to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Paul speaks of this redemption in 2 Corinthians quite beautifully.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Two vitally important things had to occur for humanity to be redeemed and reconciled back to God.

  1. Humanity needed to be freed from the curse of living under the law of sin and death – which was our master while living in the flesh.
  2. The condemning debt humanity accrued by violating God’s Torah had to be paid. The justice of the Torah had to be met.

As we look into Scriptures, we see that Yeshua completely fulfilled both of these obligations upon the tree and therefore redeemed those who were under the condemnation of the Torah and mastership of sin because of a lifestyle of living “under the law”. Let’s take a look at a few Scriptures proving Yeshua satisfied both requirements.

1. Yeshua Frees Us From the Curse

Galatians 3:10-14

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

This passage teaches quite plainly that through Yeshua dying on the tree He became a curse for us. Through Him becoming cursed for us, we are redeemed from the curse of the law. We no longer have to rely upon our own works to somehow earn our justification and acceptance before God (Gal. 3:10). Through faith in the Messiah and His death, the blessing of Abraham can now come to everyone so that we might receive the Spirit of God! (Which the phrase “receive the promised Spirit” in Gal. 3:14 is another way of saying “receive the adoption as sons” which is what our original text in this section, Gal. 4:5 states.)

2. Yeshua Pays Our Debts

Colossians 2:13-14

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Wow, this passage is absolutely amazing. How can one not erupt in praise when they think of the work of Yeshua on the tree?

We were dead in the trespasses and sins in which we once walked. Our death, separation from God, was further compounded by the uncircumcision of our flesh, in other words, living in the passions of the flesh. Ephesians 2:1-3 tells us that in this condition we were “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind”. Yet God makes us alive together with the Messiah through death and resurrection (Col. 2:11-12). In the Messiah Yeshua, he forgives our trespasses because Yeshua paid the penalty of Torah that we rightfully deserved. Our debt stood against us in the full authority of the Torah. We are forgiven because our debt was paid on the cross. This is the good news, folks! Yeshua’s payment was accepted in full by the Father, and this is testified to in many places.

Isaiah 53:5

It [righteousness] will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Ephesians 2:4-6

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

Additional Reading

We encounter this argument a lot, "God's laws are just too difficult, no one can do them all." But is that statement true? We examine this question and more in the following article.

It is necessary due to the abundance of false teaching on Colossians 2:14 to revisit it quickly. Some translations render verse 14 as he “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us” and this leads people to teach that the Torah was done away with as the requirement for believers. Plainly speaking, this is just bad theology. To believe that God’s holy, righteous, and good Torah was set aside because people found it too difficult sounds a lot like 21st century America where laws are despised simply because people just don’t like them and don’t want to obey them. Our Righteous Father will not stoop down to appease the weakness of the flesh. In fact, He solves the problem of this weakness. Amen! Besides, the Torah isn’t too difficult. As we have discussed numerous times in this article, the problem wasn’t God’s requirements as laid out in His Torah, but the problem was sin in the flesh! Yeshua didn’t die to free you from being accountable to His laws and teachings, He died to rid you of the enemy of your soul – sin – and empower you through His grace to walk as He walked.

“Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?”
– Leonard Ravenhill

In concluding this section I hope you can see the beauty of Yeshua being born “under the law”, in the same condition as mankind, so that through his sinless life and subsequent death and resurrection he might redeem us from “under the law” and grant us the adoption as sons. This is absolutely the crux of our faith. That Yeshua paid our penalty, canceled the curse so we no longer have to live under that power of sin, and gave us His Spirit as proof of our inheritance and justification before the Father. As Leonard Ravenhill said, “Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?”

8) Some Desire to be “Under the Law” – Galatians 4:21-26

As we approach our next text and occurrence of “under the law”, we must remember the struggle Paul is engaged in in Galatians. Some false brothers are trying to get the Gentiles to believe that salvation only comes through circumcision and submission to the whole Torah (both written and oral). If the Gentiles were to submit to this idea, then they would literally be attempting to earn their justification before God based on the misconception that only through becoming a Jewish proselyte could a Gentile be accepted before God. So Paul writes to the believers in Galatia defending salvation by faith alone and encouraging the believers to not submit to these heretics who only want you to be circumcised so they can boast in your flesh.

Additional Reading

Understanding this section is dependent upon you knowing what these false brothers were teaching and its implications for the Gentiles. Also, it helps to be familiar with the Jewish lie that ethnic descent from Abraham made them children of God. If you feel unsure about these topics, please visit these articles before proceeding.

In other words, these false brothers weren’t actually interested in the Gentile’s salvation, and they certainly were not interested in obeying God’s commands out of love for Him. What they really desired was to boast in how many Gentiles they could proselytize (Gal. 4:17; 6:12-13). Thus, their teachings were legalistic but nonetheless, some Gentiles started to give way to their error. This is a very brief backdrop to Paul’s struggle over his flock in Galatia. From this background, we pick up with our current text.

Galatians 4:21-26

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now, this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

Paul here compares those who desire to try and earn their salvation through works to Hagar. Hagar was the slave of Abraham who bore Ishmael. What Paul is saying is that even though Hagar’s offspring was off the physical descendant of Abraham, that doesn’t make them children of the promise. In other words, physical descent doesn’t amount to a hill-of-beans when it comes to justification before God and receiving the promised Spirit. All that matters in regards to justification is faith. Paul gets a bit more specific in a following section of Scripture.

Galatians 5:2-6

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Paul drives home the point that those who desire to be justified by their own works of the law before God are cut off from the Messiah. You can only have one: justification through faith in the Messiah or attempting to be justified by your own works (which is impossible). Paul furthers emphasizes that accepting circumcision to somehow guarantee your inheritance of Abraham’s promises will cause you to remain in slavery to the flesh! Only through the work of the Messiah can you be freed from sin, a recipient of grace and the Spirit, and a child of promise (Gal. 4:28).

The present Jerusalem that is in slavery with her children, is in slavery because they stumble at the cornerstone who is Yeshua. They refuse to repent of their self-righteousness and trust in the finished work of Yeshua for their righteousness. Paul urges his believers in Galatia to imitate him in following the Messiah, and boast only in the cross of our Lord and Savior Yeshua.

A final note in this section is demanded by those who would teach wrongly about what “under the law” means. Some teach that the person who believes God’s Torah is for the believer is “under the law”. This simply isn’t true because 1) the believer isn’t trying to earn righteousness and 2) literally every command, both positive and negative, come to us as believers in the form of God’s Torah, His instructions on how to live. People like myself are not trying to establish any form of identity or righteousness of our own from the law, we are merely trying to do what pleases our Dad. If our Father’s Torah that He gave to His children is no longer pleasing to Him then I am simply waiting on Scriptural evidence to show me that.

9) Led by the Spirit – Galatians 5:16-26

This final Scripture we will examine is appropriately towards the end of the book of Galatians. Paul has tirelessly attempted to get the community there to stand fast in the freedom that the Messiah gave them. And as an almost parting exhortation, he reminds them of the life they now should be leading in the Spirit as children of God.

Galatians 5:16-26

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

An important distinction to make in this passage is this: the flesh and Spirit are opposites. Works of the law that issue from being “under the law” is opposite to being led by the Spirit. But the Torah of God and the Spirit of God are not opposites. I cannot stress this enough. Everything you see in the list above about the works of the flesh are exactly the things God speaks against in His Torah. In fact, since His Torah is His instruction, one could rightly say that this entire passage is our Father’s Torah (instructions) to His children about how to live. Getting back to the flesh, only the believer who has crucified the flesh and walks according to the Spirit will not gratify the desires of the flesh. In other words, the flesh that is aroused by the law (Romans 7:5) no longer has power over the person yielded to the Spirit of God. So when God gives His children a command, instruction, or law they are free to obey. This is Paul’s message that we discussed quite in depth in section 6.

The main point of Paul’s usage of “under the law” here is to serve as a reminder and exhortation to these believers that they don’t have to live like they used to! When the commandment comes, that is intended to bring life, they don’t have to let sin cause it to bring death. They can be blessed by submitting to the Spirit of God, which always agrees with the Torah of God, and do what the commandment requires! (Romans 7:10-14) Amen.

10) Doing What is Right

As you can see through every Scripture we have encountered in this article, “under the law” is dealing with the justification of a person. Some twist these passages to teach that the law of God is done away with and no longer binding on the believer. But quite frankly, this teaching doesn’t stand up to the test of Scripture. The Torah is spiritual, given by the Father to teach us how to be spiritual! When we obey from the heart the standard of truth that has been there since the beginning, we are literally being holy as our Father is holy.

Getting His children to do what is right has always been the goal of our Father. He has freed us from the power of sin that caused us to rebel and placed His Spirit within us. Quite honestly, I can think of nothing better to leave you with than the exhortation from the disciple whom Yeshua loved.

1 John 3:2-10

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Posted by Jacob Hopson

I am a follower of Yeshua. A husband to Naomi and a father to five beautiful children. My passion is to teach God's Word and to see the body of Messiah grow. I am a co-founder of Path of Obedience and currently live in East Texas.


  1. Very good teaching. Lawlessness is rampant in dispensationalism and super grace taught in many churches which is a complete lack of understanding of both grace and the law. If Jesus abolished the law he basically abolished himself on the cross. I think when Jesus was born under the law and to redeem those under the Law just means he was born a Jew and he came to redeem the Jews so through their redemption we are adopted into the Jewish olive tree or something like that. Also when Paul said he was under the Law of Christ and never outside the Law of God that means the Law of Christ encompasses the Law of God and Paul never violated either in his ministry. Might want to see what Gill or Mathew Henry had to say. Be interested to see what you believe on 7 year tribulation, rapture, and literal 1000 year millennium. Not essential to salvation but those who teach these usually teach Lawlessness, God’s law was abolished at the Cross. I heard one teacher say that putting grace and the law together was heresy of heresies. Wow. You can’t separate the law from grace. Only the doers of the law shall be justified. They claim that is for the Jews or something like that.


    1. Terrance,

      I appreciate you taking the time to read our articles and leave your thoughts! It is always enjoyable for me to hear other’s feedback. Concerning the tribulation and rapture, I disagree with teachings that “the church” will be raptured prior to the tribulation. Most of the apostolic writings are written to teach and encourage us to endure persecution and tribulation! We need strength to finish our race well.

      Additionally, Romans 3:31 speaks directly to the idea that grace abolishes the law, it reads “31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” I wholeheartedly agree! Paul later tells us that “14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” (Romans 7:14). Also he writes that “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Romans 7:12). Why would our heavenly Father abolish something that is spiritual and holy? He certainly would not!

      I appreciate you Terrance! I feel impressed to share these verses as a prayer for you, “28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.” (1 John 2:28-29) May the God of peace comfort you during these days in which we live.


  2. It is very important to not read parts and pieces of Romans or the Bible. Paul is showing a correlation between Jews and gentiles. Romans 2;12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. So there is people (gentiles) who have sinned without law and shall perish without law. But the doers of the law are just before God. How can this be a person has not the law but the doers of the law are just before God? Gentiles have not the law but a law unto themselves. Shall we make void the law through faith God forbid we uphold the law. But no where does Paul say or conclude gentiles have a (copy and paste) law as a Jew would. That’s why he says in Romans 2 if the uncircumcised which is by nature fulfill the law that counts for circumcision not by the letter but of the heart. How does a uncircumcised person fulfill the law ? Romans 13 love is the fulfillment of the law bc love worketh no Ill to thy neighbor. God bless


    1. Maxx,

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment, although admittedly I am unsure as to the ultimate point you are making? You admit that we uphold the law of God through faith while arguing that Paul doesn’t conclude that the Gentiles need to uphold the same law as the Jews. If your argument is that Paul doesn’t want Gentiles looking into Yahweh’s laws given on Mt. Sinai then I simply have one question for you — Why then does Paul quote the Torah when writing to Gentiles?


  3. I love your teaching!!! You have Blessed me today!!


  4. Christi Gebhart November 12, 2020 at 7:03pm

    I have been on this journey of unlearning doctrine and studying Yah’s Word for Truth for about a decade now, but I have never read anything so concise about why we chose to obey Father’s Torah. THANK YOU!!! One question – Is it possible to get this in printable format? I need to be better prepared in giving an answer, and I know studying your article is going to equip me greater to do this, but I learn best with pen and paper so would love to make notes. Thanks for considering. And thank you for blessing my family and me with your teaching! I am looking forward to spending more time on your site!


  5. C. Richard McCaw December 14, 2020 at 9:44pm

    Thanks. I am looking at all passages that use the term under the law. Many Christians fall into the Trap rejecting the Ten Commandments and particularly throw out the Sabbath. I have several books about Sabbath on Amazon but need to interpret carefully the term “under the law.” I am about to prepare a YouTube video on this term. Thanks.


  6. Anthony Eshleman April 2, 2021 at 9:57am

    Thanks for this great article! I have also heard it taught that Paul typically addresses one of three groups of people: Jews, Gentiles, and “those under the law” a phrase used at that time to describe Gentiles who have converted to Judaism. This makes a lot of sense in the context of Paul’s letters


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