Held in Custody
23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
In the children’s program in our church, there is one pre-school child who cannot keep still. If you try to give instructions to him, he will avoid eye contact and then continue moving around. Sometimes a time-out is given and it makes the condition worse as he cannot stand being held in one spot. As adults, those who commit crimes and are arrested are held in custody until those charges are laid against them in court. In the spiritual realm, there is a law at work that keeps us locked up as well.
Paul is referring to the Mosaic Law, where the Israelites were bound to this law. They had to do their best to follow the law and if they broke the law, there needed to be a sacrifice made for atonement. The new covenant of Christ came to free us from the law and gave us a chance of salvation through faith. We can never be made perfect by following the law, but Jesus came to be a sacrifice so that we can become perfect through him. We are allowed to escape the law that keeps us in bondage to sin through his grace and sacrifice.