21 If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it.
22 But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.
23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.
25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Training wheels are designed for children who are learning to ride a bicycle. Many children often have trouble balancing a bicycle. They are ideal for little ones with physical impairments. Training wheels prevent the bike from leaning, and in many cases falling over. Over time, the training wheels are adjusted, raising them higher as the child’s skill increases. By making slow, steady changes in the height of the training wheels, riders are easily weaned when the time comes for them to be removed.
The Father in His wisdom has provided His children with training wheels as well. They were called tutors or guardians. They are intended to lead us to Christ. They are also provided to steady us as we grow in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. At some point, we become mature enough and no longer require their assistance.
In the Greek world, there was a household servant called the paidagogos (a trainer of boys, a child guardian, guide, a tutor). The paidagogos was not a schoolmaster. He was usually an old and trusted slave who had been in the family for a long time and who was well respected. He was in charge of the children’s moral development and well-being. It was his duty to see that the child acquired the qualities needed to develop into adulthood.
He had one particular duty: every day, he had to take the children to and from school. He had nothing to do with the actual teaching of the children, but it was his duty to take them in safety to the school and deliver them to the teacher (Barclay).
The tutor was a protector or escort. Being under his guidance, was like being under protective custody.
The apostle Paul recognized the Old Testament law was the Father’s tutor for His children. The law guided people to the Lord Jesus Christ. The law set the stage. It put people into a position where they could recognize the Lord Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Savior and Lord.
One of the primary functions of the law is to reveal sin. No matter how hard anyone tries, it is impossible to keep the law perfectly. Trying to do so is futile. Everyone falls short. There is nothing a person can do to overcome the problem of sin on their own. The law acts like a thermometer. It reveals when someone’s temperature is elevated, but it does not lower the temperature. The idea that the Father could ever accept us as fallen sinful creatures, is a hopeful fantasy.
The tutor coached and encouraged the child along the path to maturity. Once a child reached maturity, the guardian was no longer needed. When people come to and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the training wheels come off and the law is no longer required. Rather than depending upon the law, mature children of the King depend on grace.
The tutor, as a guide, a custodian was never intended to be permanent. Once maturity was reached, the temporary assistance is no longer required. The child was released and considered an adult with all the rights and privileges of an adult.
REFLECT & PRAY
Believers are not designed to remain as babies partaking only of milk. We are to move on to solid food and then meat.
Father thank You for all of the human guides and tutors You have provided me to lead me to the Lord Jesus Christ and encourage me to grow to maturity.
The Father has planned for us to grow to maturity in Christ. It is not a straight shot for any of us. Rather than a short hundred-yard dash, is more like a long cross-country race. Such races are anywhere between 2.5 and 7.5 miles. The path covered included grass, dirt, and gravel roads, woodlands, and open country, and the terrain included both flat ground and hills, flat ground, and sometimes gravel road.There are plenty of stops and starts and ups and downs. But as the Father’s children persevere over time, they achieve the maturity of adulthood.
There is a subtle difference lurking beneath the surface between children and sons. All of the Father’s children are just that, little children, immature and in need of guidance. But when we reach maturity, we are no longer merely children, but sons. The word “sons” here means full-grown sons. This is a much stronger term than “children” of God. When a child reached the age of adulthood, there was a rite of passage. His father would give him a toga virilis, a coat of manhood (Ritchson).
At one level each of the Father’s children have a choice. We can remain immature children, or we can grow up and become adults. One of the indicators of our spiritual adulthood is the kind of food we eat.
In a sense, we are what we eat.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
1 Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you, I could not talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life.
2 I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you were not ready for anything stronger. And you still are not ready,
3 for you are still controlled by your sinful nature.
The author of Hebrews warns:
11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and do not seem to listen.
12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.
13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and does not know how to do what is right.
14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
What kind of food do you consume? Are the training wheels still on?