“So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (Galatians 3:24 ESV).
An earlier portion of Galatians chapter three revealed an important objective of the Old Testament Law: “It was given to show that the wrong things people do are against God’s will” (Galatians 3:19 NCV). Galatians 3:24 now identifies another important function of the Law: “…the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
With this in mind, we can say that the Law teaches what is right as well as what is wrong. For instance, let’s consider the first three of the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20:1-17. The first (“You shall have no other gods before Me”) teaches that its right to give God the primary position of respect and honor in every area of life.
The next is this: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4). From this, we learn that its right to accept God as He has revealed Himself within the Scriptures and not how we might fashion Him to be.
Following this, we read, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” (Exodus 20:7). Unlike those who use God’s name in a frivolous manner (as in “ohmigod” or other, similar expressions), this tells us that its right to treat God’s name with reverence.
These examples (and others like them from the Old Testament Law) teach us important lessons about God’s holiness. Since human beings often fail to do what is holy and right, the Law thus demonstrates our need for a Savior- or as Galatians 3:24 tells us, “…the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ…” (KJV).
One source concludes this thought with a look at the original language of this passage…
“The Greek term means ‘custodian’ or a person who attends a child. In Greek households a faithful servant was given the responsibility of taking care of a boy from childhood to puberty. The servant kept him from both physical and moral evil, and went with him to his amusements and to school. Paul used the word to say that the law functioned as a child-custodian. The law acted as an outward check on desires, thus making the consciousness of sin more acute. And since none of us is able to deal with sin by ourselves, the law guides us to Christ, our only Rescuer and Savior.” (1)
(1) Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1522). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.