The Apostle Paul says we are no longer “under” the law in Galatians 3:23-25. However, this contradicts his other statements about the law in Romans 3:31 and 1 Corinthians 9:20. How do we explain these opposite statements from Paul?
Good question, @Snarl
I’d say the key to this concept of not being under the law is found in I Timothy 1:9 - the law was never meant for righteous men, but for the lawless and disobedient. Good people don’t need laws to make them behave.
So who is a good person? Well, none of us were born good. We were all born sinners, and therefore we were born under the law - a law we could never keep. Because “not keeping the law” is exactly what sinners do. They have no heart for it.
But when we are born again, our old sinful nature inside us is replaced with a new nature that does have a heart for the law and wants to keep it. Which is what your verse in Romans 3:31 is talking about. Faith in the gospel transforms us so that we want to uphold the law.
And therefore, we no longer need the law to make us behave. We’re not under it’s dominion anymore because we now do gladly what we previously did grudgingly - if at all.
As for the other verse, I Corinthians 9:20, Paul says that (although he wasn’t under the law himself) he would behave as one bound under the law for the sake of those who were bound under it. He means that he would imitate, as best he conscientiously could, the customs of those he was interacting with. When he was around kosher Jews, he observed their kosher scruples. Why? Did he really think God required him to keep all the kosher details? No - but they did. And out of deference to their sensibilities, he courteously avoided doing anything that would offend or alienate them from the gospel.
I mean, it might be a little hard to witness to a Jew while munching a ham sandwich in front of him!
But I think I Timothy 1:9 should clarify why those who are driven by love of the Spirit on the inside would no longer need the threats of the law on the outside to live pleasing to God.
I hope this will help you.
I can add that this is the perfect visual explanation of “being under de law” I’ve ever seen:
Before minute one, you will understand that being under the law means that there was condemnation for us because no one fulfills its standards! But Jesus set us free from that curse. In that sense, we’re no longer under the law. But this doesn’t mean that the law was evil (it is still good because it came from God). The problem was our fallen nature that took something good and used it as a guide of what to do to disobey God. Now that we are new creatures, we see the law as a guide of what God wants from us, but not longer a condemnatory tool.