Part 6 – Law, Grace, and Baseball
To a greater or lesser degree, most Christians are rule keepers. We keep to the rules, or follow the Law because we don’t want to get into trouble, or because we know it’s the right thing to do. In the two verses we looked at on Sunday (Romans 3:19-20), we saw that the ‘Law’ that Paul first referred to in verse 19 is speaking about ‘all the Lord God has said in the Old Testament’, and we know that to be true because the previous verses were all quotes from the Psalms and Isaiah, rather than the Pentateuch, which was the ‘law for the Jews’. This is important because Paul wanted to drive home the point – one more time – that ALL people were guilty under the perfect law of God.
In verse 20 Paul states a profound truth that sets the stage for the salvation of sinners that comes only to sinners through the grace of God. Here Paul says that ‘no one will declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.’ In other words, obedience to the law won’t save ANYONE because no one can follow the law perfectly, so there is no sense in trying to follow the law for the purposes of salvation.
What the Law DOES do, is make us conscious – aware of our sin – and that we need a Savior who CAN follow the Law perfectly. This opened up our discussion to focus on the “Threefold Use of the Law” that John Calvin and other Reformers wrote about.
1. The Law is a curb – it restrains evil. It keeps evil doers from doing unmitigated evil to the righteous. This is also seen in the civil law of society. In this way the Law doesn’t change someone’s heart or prevent them from sinning, but it does curb it. Romans 13:1-5 speaks clearly about this.
2. The Law is a mirror – the Law reveals God’s perfect holiness and righteousness, but it also reflects to us our sin, and our inability to follow the Law. This is what Romans 3:20 is speaking about....as the Holy Spirit calls His children to salvation/repentance, we see our sin – we become conscious of our sin and thus are driven to Jesus.
3. The Law is a guide – the Law (for the Christian) shows us how to live holy lives and guides us into Christian maturity. We don’t follow the Law to get saved, but it is evidence (our obedience) that we are saved, and as we (by God’s grace and Spirit) obey the Law we are matured in our sanctification. In this way the Law is good because adherence to it makes us more like Jesus.