Most people have a misconception about God’s law. We know that no one is perfect, but after that fact, two general beliefs prevail. First, overall if we do the right and stay away from wrong as much as possible, we will have achieved God’s favor. Second, there is a line, and if we cross it, we will incur God’s wrath. On the other side of that line are the heinous acts of murder, rape, child molesting, and the like.
The problem with these thoughts is the law is not there for salvation. In other words, the purpose of God’s law is not to award good acts with redemption or bring about punishment to those that are evil.
The purpose of God’s law is to identify sin and show us we are sinners. Romans 3:19-20, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 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.”
The fact is that everyone you know can think you are a righteous person, but even the best of us have broken God’s law at one time or another. Realization starts to set in when we see ourselves compared to how God knows us. The fact is that God sees more than our actions. He knows the heart and our real motives.
Those that are thinking, “I’ve never crossed that line! I have never done anything really bad.” Again, God knows the heart. Read what Jesus says during the Sermon on the Mount about adultery. Matthew 5:27-28, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Jesus tells us the same principle applies to murder when there is hatred in our hearts (Matthew 5:21-22).
How do we overcome this guilt, if doing the righteous things of the law does not override the wrong we have done or even thought about doing?
Some will answer this question with religious rituals. The most common religious ceremony in Christianity is baptism. However, baptism is not for the “putting away of the filth of the flesh” but is useful to have “a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21).
If obedience and religious ceremony do not relieve our guilt and bring us closer to God, what does?
We still have hope. Hebrews 7:19, “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.”
This verse begs the question, what is this “better hope?”
Jesus Christ is our only hope.
1 Timothy 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;”
Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
One thing about hope, it cannot exist without faith. Why hope for something if you never believe it will happen?
God’s law explains that “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). This thought also appears in the New Testament – see Hebrews 9:22.
A sinless sacrifice was needed, but our blood contains sin. Step in the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ. One hundred percent man, but also one hundred percent God – the sinless sacrifice for the sins of the world.
To recap, we are all guilty – all of us have done something wrong. We cannot rectify the situation by doing good, religious ceremony, or by staying away from specific evil acts. The necessary ingredient for washing away our sins is a blood sacrifice. A sinless Jesus Christ was offered as the sacrificial Lamb to satisfy the blood payment for our sins. When the blood payment is applied through Christ’s blood by faith, we can then have hope.
When faith is not yet applied, our spiritual state is condemnation.
John 3:18, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Once faith is applied, we have a living hope through Christ. 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
The role of the law within salvation is summed up by the words of Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”