Friday, June 29, 2007

Keeping The Law

So here's a question for anyone who cares to answer.

The Bible is clear that man because of his sin can't be made righteous by the law.

But why? Is it because man is incapable of keeping the law, or is it because the law doesn't make anyone righteous, it just recognizes righteousness or unrighteousness?


Dan B. said...

Maybe this is reframing the question, but even though man cannot keep the law, he is made righteous by Jesus' keeping of it. God in His holiness and righteousness did not remove the requirement of the law being kept, but satisfied the requirement in His Son. And thus, His imputing His righteousness and sinlessness under the law to us in salvation.

However, in the way you were asking the question, I suppose it is both. Breaking even one small part of the law makes us guilty of breaking it all before the eyes of God and thus any supposed righteousness gained is incomplete since God's full wrath would be upon us for that breaking. And I would say that the law as well does make the delineation between righteousness and unrighteousness in proclaiming the standard and holiness of God (which would connect to what I said above).

I'm not sure I made any sense.

Charles Sebold said...

I think it's more the second one (assuming that you are not disputing the first one as fact, just whether it is the cause of the the statement that he can't be made righteous).

I mean, Paul seems to suggest that the nature of man is such that the Law actually excites the sinful nature to sin (Piper says that man sins in response to the Law to prove that he is a true child of Adam, so to speak). But the Law is not described as having any power to render righteousness, merely to pass judgment as to whether one is righteous or not. The Law didn't make Christ righteous, but it proved that He was in fact righteous.

The Law has a purpose. The Spirit produces different results (which is what I think Paul is getting at by the end of of Galatians 5).

Charles Sebold said...

Come to think of it, I do have an issue with your statement.

The Bible is clear that man because of his sin can't be made righteous by the law.

I think it's the limited nature of the power of the Law that keeps it from being able to justify men. It wasn't made to justify; man wouldn't need justifying if it weren't for sin, so the Law would simply give praise to the glory of either sinless man, or (better) the God who made man sinless in our hypothetical situation. Christ's death was made to justify (Gal. 2:21). Righteousness would be based on law only if the law as given to us were able to impart life in the first place (my take on Gal. 3:21).

Carla Rolfe said...

I would say that it's both - not only is fallen man incapable of perfectly maintining the holy standard of God (his entire life), but the law was designed to be our schoolmaster - bringing us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

Just off the top of my head.

Charles Sebold said...

The way everybody else is responding to this suggests to me that I didn't understand the question. It seemed to me that you were hinging the question on the instrumentality of the law in justifying men.

Gummby said...

I've restated. I hope that clarifies things a bit.

Part of this was prompted by questions from the previous week's lesson (which I'm covering tonight at homegroup).

"What is the purpose of the law? Can anyone be made righteous by keeping the law? Why not?"

That basically got me to thinking about whether it was a deficiency in the man's ability, or perhaps it was a deficiency in the law's purpose.

Charles Sebold said...

I affirm that the Law was not made to justify men, but to demonstrate the glory of God and His holiness and be the schoolmaster which Carla said above.

I deny that the Law is deficient in any way, unless its purpose is misunderstood.

(Wow, I sound like one of those modern statements of faith.)

BugBlaster said...

Hi Matt, I think the answer is yes to both your questions. They are both reasons why the law doesn't make someone righteous. Its purpose is to be a tutor to show me that us that we're unrighteous.

On the other hand, its purpose can be said to make us righteous, because Jesus' perfect keeping of the law was one of the things that proved that he was worthy to act as a substitute for us. So in that sense, the premise is turned upside down... man is made righteous by a chain that includes (the keeping of) the law.

Joe Blackmon said...

Galatians 6:21 says "[I]f there had been a law given when could have given life, truly, rightousness would have come through the law". Paul in verse 24 of that chapter tells us why the law could not bring rightousness. "Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." The law couldn't make us right with God because that was never its purpose. It would be like trying to screw in a phillips head screw with a cement block. Right tool for the right job.

Celal Birader said...

Perhaps the fact that we are wed to one and need to be wed to another combined with what God has done to go about taking the bride of another and making him/her the bride of His Son (and why He would do this)should give us some clues. (Romans 7:1-6)