Romans 3:18-22

In Romans 3:18-22 Paul explains why sin is such a problem. He summarizes it in a simple sentence. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Every sin and rebellion against God happens because we do not have a proper respect for Him. Wherever there is sin, there is no fear of God. John Calvin wrote this on the topic of the fear of God: “In short, as it is a bridle to restrain our wickedness, so when it is wanting, we feel at liberty to indulge every kind of licentiousness.” If we don’t fear God, we’re definitely going to feel free from the law and the penalty of violating it because we become the supreme authority and decision maker, which is absolutely not the case.

Paul points out that man’s utter sinfulness comes to us in the law to silence every critic and to demonstrate the universal guilt of mankind – that all the world is guilty before God. “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” Remember that many Jewish people of Paul’s day took every passage of the Old Testament describing evil and applied it only to the Gentiles – not to themselves. They tried to excuse their own actions and treated the law as something that didn’t necessarily apply to them.

But Paul is clear – we can’t do enough good works to be saved. The law cannot save us. The law can’t justify anyone. It is useful in giving us the knowledge of sin, but it cannot save us. “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” Since the time of Adam and Eve, people have tried to justify themselves by the deeds of the law. In the Garden of Eden Adam tried to make himself presentable to God by making coverings out of fig leaves – and he failed. In Job, the oldest book of the Bible, the problem is presented clearly: how can a man be righteous before God? They cannot. God makes part of the answer clear here through Paul – the answer is not in the performance of good works, in the deeds of the law. The answer is knowing we are sinners in need of a Savior – Jesus Christ.

The law will justify no one. The law has been broken and now can only condemn us – it can never save us. This means that even if we could now begin to perfectly keep the law of God it could not make up for past disobedience, or remove present guilt. We’ve already got sin all over our past, and the law cannot remove that. It also means that keeping the law is not God’s way of salvation or of blessing under the New Covenant – that belongs to the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone. “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”

One response to this post.

  1. Reblogged this on Matthews' Blog.


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