Paul wants us to clearly understand that the law can prescribe but not deliver. Because the law cannot provide, Paul seemingly throws it out the front door. But he brings it back in through the back door stating that the law restores hope and dignity. Paul says that his earlier argument has been taken away. Thus the seeming double standard.
In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul puts forth a clear list regarding the non-keeping of the Ten Commandments. But even his list of virtues in Galatians 5:22-23 can be loosely correlated with the ten Commandments, but Paul persists in avoiding any code. He concludes In Galatians 5:23 by stating, There “is no law against these things,” a clear reference to the virtues set forth by the Holy Spirit.
Paul is saying that the law is such a relentless negative that the most positive thing that can be said is that the law is not opposed to these virtues. In short, the Ten Commandments are not opposed to the fruit of the Spirit.
Why this statement? Because in Galatians 5:14 Paul states, “For all the law is fulfilled in one ‘word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” That one word is love. Therefore the Ten Commandments focus on a single word. “LOVE.”
Paul’s premise is, “You cannot love your neighbor unless you first love God. But by loving your neighbor, you show that you love God.” Because we want to make this so complex, it is hard for us to hear Paul boil down the law to just one sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14).
Paul seemingly throws the baby (the law) out with the bathwater but then rushes to bring the baby (the law) back in through the back door. But upon closer examination, he hasn’t thrown anything out the front door except our preconceived ideas regarding the law. When we fail to grasp the true meaning of the law, then our focus becomes the mint, dill, and cummin. Meanwhile we have neglected the weightier matters of the law, love and Justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Matthew 23:23). Or, as Galatians 5:19-21, lists the qualities present in those to fail to keep the law in and with love.
This is why Jesus spent so much time with the sick and needy. He was showing us the law in action.