Romans one’s reveals man’s depraved condition, a result of Adam not believing God, the Creator and instead, being led by a creature into sin, resulting in death and separation from God. Every human’s condition in Adam, at their birth, is totaled, nothing to fix. We still need an ezer, a help from above, from God.
What about the Jews and their covenant with God? What about the LAW?
It will help if you read Romans 2:1-3:20 to be prepared for what we are going to study now. Paul turns to the Jewish readers who are apparently standing smugly by with folded arms cheering him on in his attack against the great sinners, the unrighteous and ungodly Gentiles in chapter one. However, they are in for a surprise. Surveying these scriptures, we find:
• Jews are judged according to the Truth (2:1-5) “Judge not, lest you be judged…”
• Jews are judged by their works (2:6-10) Good Works vs. Bad
• Jews are judged with impartiality (2:11-16) With or without the Law, all will be judged the same.
• Jews do not obey the Law (2:17-29) Jews have been transgressing against the Law all along. The Law is impossible to keep, just try keeping the Tenth Commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.” What toddler has not “coveted” that toy that’s in the hands of another? The Jews really rely on circumcision rather than keeping the Law. Circumcision was an outward picture of what must happen to the heart.
• Jews do not believe the oracles, God’s Word. (3:1-8) Jews received the Word of God first, like Adam in the garden, but just like Adam, they did not believe it.
• Jews are in the same condition as the Gentiles, because the gracious righteousness of God is only received by faith.
All are guilty, Jew and Gentile alike, before God because all have not believed His Word, have acted independent of God, trying to meet the standard of “good,” and failed. All have not depended on Him.
Romans 2:4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” The words “His kindness and forbearance and patience…the kindness of God” is speaking directly of God’s Grace. Isn’t it interesting that it is His goodness, not the Law, that leads us to repentance?
Read Romans 2:28-29. Some people come to salvation as Romans 1 sinners, without the Law, depraved. Some people are raised serving the Law trying to establish a relationship with God by being good and doing good works, the religious. Both types must realize that the sin of independence exists in the knowledge of doing evil and it is also in keeping the Law and doing good. Those that come out of “law keeping” have to learn sanctification by grace just like those who lived ungodly lives before their new birth. Both are saved by grace and must guard against the temptation of trying to keep the Law after becoming believers.
Throughout the Old Testament you see how God kept presenting an ezer “help” to see if man would catch on to what doesn’t help and what he really needs. First, he sent the wife. She didn’t help. Then he sent the family. They didn’t help. Then he sent the village and groups of other people. They didn’t help either. Mankind only got worse. So bad He had to send a flood and start over with just 8 people. Then he presented kings and governments. They didn’t help either. Finally, he picks one tribe, grows it into a nation in Egypt, redeems and delivers it, and gives it His Law. Surely this is the help that will raise mankind out of its depravity. But not so. Because the law was not able to save man!
Some have mistakenly thought of the keeping of the Law as the means of bridging the chasm between them and God. That is merely eating more fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is choosing to act independently of God, trying to save ourselves. It is not trusting His word which clearly teaches the Law was not given for salvation. Look at what the scriptures on the Law given by Moses in the wilderness says as it regards to salvation. (Don’t skip over these! It’s important to read what the New Testament actually says.)
Acts 13:38-39, “Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Romans 3:20, “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.”
Romans 3:21-22, “but the righteousness of God apart from the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference.”
Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”
Romans 4:4-8, “Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that works not, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also described the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputes righteousness apart from works, saying blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and who sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
Romans 5:8-9, “But God commended His love towards us while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then being now justified by His blood we shall be saved from the wrath through Him.”
Romans 6:14, For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law but under grace.”
Romans 7:4-6, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful impulses, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead in which we were held that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”
Romans 8:1-4 NAS, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did, sending His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”
Romans 11:5-6 NAS, “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to His gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”
Romans 13:10, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.”
I Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
I Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”
I Corinthians 15:55-57, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 3:7-11, “But if the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away, how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be more glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceeds in glory. Forever, that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excels . For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remains is glorious.”
Galatians 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
Galatians 3:2-3, “Receive ye the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
Galatians 3:11-12, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God it is evident, for the just shall live by Faith. And the law is not of faith, but the man that doeth them shall live in them.”
Galatians 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law being made a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree.”
Galatians 3:19, “Wherefore, then serves the law? It was added because of transgression, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.”
Galatians 3:24-25, “Wherefore, the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
Galatians 5:4-5, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
Galatians 5:18, “But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
Ephesians 2:13-15, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who once were far off are made near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, to make in Himself of two one new man, so making peace…”
Philippians 3:1-7, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not irksome but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he hath reasons for which he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”
Colossians 2:13-14, “And you being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.”
I Timothy 1:5-9 “Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned, from which some, having swerved, having turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say, or the matters about which they make confident assertions. But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”
Titus 3:3-7, “For we ourselves also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after the kindness and love of God, our Savior, toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, but the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He has shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Hebrews 7:11-12, “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”
Hebrews 7:18-19, “For there is verily an annulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and the unprofitableness of it. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by which we draw near unto God.”
Hebrews 10:1, “For the law, having a shadow of good things to come and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make those who come to it perfect.”
Hebrews 10:9-10, “Then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. He took away the first that He may establish the second, by which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.”
All these scriptures speak plainly that our salvation is neither begun in the Law nor perfected in the Law. When we look at Grace in Galatians we will again address the believer’s perfection by the Spirit of grace, and not the Law.
The Law is God’s further revelation of the consequences of eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Man chose to act independently of God, not trusting Him or depending on the faithfulness of His words. Man believed the lie that the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would make him like God, knowing good from evil. Though Man’s eyes were open to the knowledge of good and evil through sin, he was not made like God. He had believed a lie and died.
The Law further explained the punishment of evil and the utter hopelessness of ever doing enough good to pay that price. The Law was, as Galatians tells us, the tutor who was entrusted with getting the child to the Master teacher. Really a better translation of the word would be a guardian who led the child to the Rabbi to be taught the Word. The Law was to guard and lead unbelievers to the good news about Jesus.
There is only one good work that satisfies the Law when it has been broken, the death of a sinless one, the shedding of innocent blood. God, in His grace towards us, sent the Law to teach us why He must come. He was the only Sinless One able to come and die for our sins.