What is the Purpose of the Law?

Many in Paul’s day, and in ours as well, think that we are made right before God by following the Law.  But Paul tells us that this is not the purpose of the Law at all, and that in fact any attempt to justify oneself through it is evil and prideful (Philippians 3:2).  So what is the purpose of the Law?  In short, so that our “sin might be shown to be sin,” and that it might” become sinful beyond measure” (Romans 7:13).  Does this mean that the law is sinful?  Paul vehemently says no!  The Law is life for those who can keep it.  And this is precisely Paul’s point.  The Law does not equal life for us, but death, because it exposes that which exists within every human being, indwelling sin.  The more we look at the Law and take it seriously, the more we are crushed by its perfect and unreachable demands.  Far from despair, which is prideful in its own way, we Christians are driven to find our confidence not in ourselves, but in a Savior who did keep the Law, and who did pay the righteously demanded price for our failing to keep it.  With Paul we confidently say, “Wretched folk that we are!  Who will deliver us from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).  So far from saving us, the Law condemns us, and points us to our need for a Savior, who was graciously supplied to us through the person of Jesus Christ.

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Filed under Jesus, Soteriology, The Gospel, Theology

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