Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20
“Therefore” indicates Paul’s final conclusion of the issue he has been addressing. The case has been presented and the lawyer has given his closing argument. Now comes the final statement, “Therefore…”
Paul has been speaking of the law in two ways, natural law as revealed to the gentile and the Mosaic law as revealed to the people of Israel. It wouldn’t logically follow that this verse suddenly drops the natural law to speak only of the law of Moses. Therefore, “by deeds of the law” is certainly speaking of man’s efforts to please God under either law.
In other words, someone who isn’t under the law of Moses who goes about doing good stuff cannot expect to be justified in God’s sight. Nor can someone who is under the law of Moses expect to meet its requirements and thus be justified before God. In both cases, “by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
For the gentile, the natural law tells us internally that there is a gap between us and God. There will always be a state of uncertainty about our eternal state because deep inside we know that the things we’ve done have separated us from Him. For the Jew who has the written law, there is the same knowledge. When they objectively look at the law and then compare their deeds to what it calls for, the honest soul will acknowledge that they haven’t measured up.
Of course, there are those under both the natural law and the written law who feel they are above what they see; there are those who feel these things don’t apply to them individually; there are those who completely reject the premise; etc. These attitudes in no way negate what is obvious, but merely further demonstrate the righteousness of God who has so revealed Himself.
In the end, Paul says that by “deeds of the law no flesh” – no person who has ever lived – “will be justified in His sight.” The law merely condemns us. It is a sad and seemingly hopeless state in which man finds himself.
“By the law is the knowledge of sin” and, after all, the wages of sin is death. If this were the end of the book of Romans, it would be better for us that we had never been born. Or for those of us who are alive, it would be a pointless existence of knowing that death was coming and which would be followed by an eternal separation from the very Source of our existence. For all eternity our mind would contemplate, “Why did He even create me?”
But Paul’s words do continue and they will show us the magnificence of what God has done for His wayward creatures!
Life application: The divide already exists between God and you and there is no deed or deeds that you can accomplish in order restore the bridge. But God, in His infinite goodness has provided the bridge Himself. As you contemplate your state before Him today, think on the perfection of what He has done through Christ Jesus. What a great God!
Heavenly Father, I know that I have failed You time and time again. I know that the law You have given me only shows me this more clearly. By it, I realize that I need something more to be pleasing to You. I need a Substitute to meet the law in my place… I need Jesus. Thank You for Jesus who did what I could never do. Hallelujah and Amen.