The evidence is overwhelming – law has its limitations. Words from Sam Ewing illustrate the point. He said, “Crime in the cities is very discouraging. Apartment house dwellers have locks, bolts, chains, and bars on their doors. It takes a tenant longer to get out than a burglar to get in.” I’ll say it again – when it comes to human beings, law has its limitations. The apostle Paul has a long discussion about the limitations of law in Romans chapter 7 (in the context of that letter he has the Old Testament Law of Moses in view). The biggest problem he identifies in the chapter is not the law itself but man’s inability (or unwillingness) to keep it! He writes, “the law is holy, and the commandment Holy and just and good” (vs 12). But he goes on (in what are admittedly difficult words) to describe the complex human spiritual personality – “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (vs 15) . . . “how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (vv 18b, 19). Human beings can’t be justified through mere law-keeping precisely because they can’t flawlessly, perfectly keep the law! Paul already warned at Romans 3:20 that “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His [God’s] sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” He issued a similar warning in Galatians 3:10 as he declares our need for forgiveness through Christ – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ ” There it is! The limitation of trusting a law-keeping system to save us is we can’t keep it perfectly! Even Babe Ruth missed more times than he hit!
Paul’s theology in Romans (and elsewhere) is that we need to be loosed from any system of salvation based on perfect human performance of a set of laws to save us. We can be loosed! We conclude with Paul’s introductory paragraph to Romans 7 (vv 1-6): “Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” Thank God – we can be loosed from the power of the law–not through our perfect and flawless performance, but through Jesus’ perfect performance at the cross! Think about it.
By: Dan Gulley, Smithville, TN