You Have Misunderstood the Nature of the Law

In Romans 3:19-20 Paul says the following:

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Now, I had absorbed the fact that no man has been saved by the works of the law, but there was still a part of me that thought the law technically could  justify someone. You know, if some “hypothetical” man was somehow able to keep the law then he would be saved by the law. But what Paul is telling the us here is that this is not true. Instead, he is saying something along these lines:

To those of you who are trusting in the works of the law, you have completely misunderstood its nature. You are like a carpenter who has a too-short board, and who believes that if he measures it over and over again it will somehow get longer.  Jesus Christ was not made perfect by the Law, but rather, was perfect all along. All the Law did was allow you to contrast His perfection with your gross unrighteousness. The law, to those who are in sin, is nothing more than a tape measure, but you have been trying to use it as a ladder to God.

What do you think?

18 thoughts on “You Have Misunderstood the Nature of the Law”

  1. The law exists to point us toward the Nature of God. Because of Adam’s sin, Man is incapable of being justified by the law. Our Nature prevents it. The question of the “hypothetical man” are the same as questions about men with wings: Interesting but wholly outside the realm of reality.

    I’m looking forward to more Romans when you get a chance.

    Cheers.

  2. The law exists to point us toward the Nature of God. Because of Adam’s sin, Man is incapable of being justified by the law. Our Nature prevents it. The question of the “hypothetical man” are the same as questions about men with wings: Interesting but wholly outside the realm of reality.

    I’m looking forward to more Romans when you get a chance.

    Cheers.

  3. Exactly. The law doesn’t exist to recognize the perfection we have attained with much moral sweating, but rather to catalog our multitudinous (I like that word), nuanced imperfections in the light of said law.

    With one exception, and he wasn’t merely human.

  4. Exactly. The law doesn’t exist to recognize the perfection we have attained with much moral sweating, but rather to catalog our multitudinous (I like that word), nuanced imperfections in the light of said law.

    With one exception, and he wasn’t merely human.

  5. Bravo. I have wrestled with this before and am glad you brought it up in such a clear and succinct manner. I very much agree with the tape measure visual. It goes along with the law being a Schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. It is what Ray Comfort bases his evangelistic thrust upon, that the law is a strong and vital nidus for right thinking and believing about our true condition as sinners before a holy God. For us to come to God we must believe that we need Him. If there were any chance that we could be justified by the law entirely, then Christ is superfluous, and our belief and reliance upon the work of Christ is more charity on our part.

  6. Bravo. I have wrestled with this before and am glad you brought it up in such a clear and succinct manner. I very much agree with the tape measure visual. It goes along with the law being a Schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. It is what Ray Comfort bases his evangelistic thrust upon, that the law is a strong and vital nidus for right thinking and believing about our true condition as sinners before a holy God. For us to come to God we must believe that we need Him. If there were any chance that we could be justified by the law entirely, then Christ is superfluous, and our belief and reliance upon the work of Christ is more charity on our part.

  7. We are justified once…when we accept the sacrifice and grace of the cross. We are sanctified daily through the Word of God to become more like Christ until the day He returns or He calls us home 🙂

  8. We are justified once…when we accept the sacrifice and grace of the cross. We are sanctified daily through the Word of God to become more like Christ until the day He returns or He calls us home 🙂

  9. “For it is not those who hear the law that are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
    You need to find which law he is talking about.

  10. “For it is not those who hear the law that are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
    You need to find which law he is talking about.

  11. Theodore,
    Thanks for the response, but I’m not sure what you mean. Jesus Christ kept the law and was declared righteous. Those who keep the law will be declared righteous. But no one is made righteous by the law. When a man comes to the law it is not to be transformed, it is to be measured. He is either righteous or he is unrighteous and the law will declare it, but the law did not change him.

  12. Theodore,
    Thanks for the response, but I’m not sure what you mean. Jesus Christ kept the law and was declared righteous. Those who keep the law will be declared righteous. But no one is made righteous by the law. When a man comes to the law it is not to be transformed, it is to be measured. He is either righteous or he is unrighteous and the law will declare it, but the law did not change him.

  13. Heb. 7:12 the law has had a change made to it. It is this change Paul is refering to in Rom. 2:13 and Rom. 5:20.

  14. Heb. 7:12 the law has had a change made to it. It is this change Paul is refering to in Rom. 2:13 and Rom. 5:20.

  15. Yeah I know you don’t know what I’m driving toward. But let’s look at something. In Gen. 9:5 NIV God makes it very clear that no male human’s life can be taken by bloodshed and the result not be the residual of having to give him an account. But he further clarifies his intention of it being his resolve to require each man to give him a direct accounting regarding the fact of one man’s life having been taken by bloodshed as a future event. So then for God to put into place the only Way each man can account directly to God regarding the bloodshed of one man Jesus was crucified according to this set purpose of God. Therefore the Acts 2:38 command is the addition to the law Paul mentions in Rom. 5:20 and the only Way this law can be obeyed is by the faith of confessing directly to God that you are sorry Jesus was crucified to be forgiven of all sins and escape eternal death.
    “For it is not those who hear the law, Repent, that are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law, Repent, who will be declared righteous.” The small narrow gate is the illustration Jesus used to describe this law. You have misunderstood the law.

  16. Yeah I know you don’t know what I’m driving toward. But let’s look at something. In Gen. 9:5 NIV God makes it very clear that no male human’s life can be taken by bloodshed and the result not be the residual of having to give him an account. But he further clarifies his intention of it being his resolve to require each man to give him a direct accounting regarding the fact of one man’s life having been taken by bloodshed as a future event. So then for God to put into place the only Way each man can account directly to God regarding the bloodshed of one man Jesus was crucified according to this set purpose of God. Therefore the Acts 2:38 command is the addition to the law Paul mentions in Rom. 5:20 and the only Way this law can be obeyed is by the faith of confessing directly to God that you are sorry Jesus was crucified to be forgiven of all sins and escape eternal death.
    “For it is not those who hear the law, Repent, that are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law, Repent, who will be declared righteous.” The small narrow gate is the illustration Jesus used to describe this law. You have misunderstood the law.

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