Everyone is guilty under God’s law. The solution is to accept Christ’s sacrificial work through repentance and then abide with Christ.
But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.” (Galatians 3:10-12)
For many years while my dad was still alive, one of our favorite shared experiences was to pick up the NCAA basketball tournament bracket. We would get a copy of the local newspaper, clip out the bracket graphic (yes, this dates me to before the internet), and pick the games over the phone. The one who did a worse job predicting their bracket each year would buy the other lunch.
As popular as picking the bracket was then, it has grown even more popular today. You often see contests with large cash prizes associated with picking a perfect bracket. And there’s a good reason. The odds that you can be perfect in your bracket are infinitesimally small.
Edward Sutelan spelled it out in a recent article for The Sporting News. Your chances are better at making a grid on the surface of the entire earth of 1-foot squares, placing an object in one square, and you being able to guess which square it was in.
Those odds come to mind when thinking about today’s topic. The ability for us to perfectly fulfill God’s law are even less than this. In fact, it’s not possible for us to be perfect on our own accord under the law. This becomes bad news when James reminds us that everyone is guilty under God’s law even if we have failed to keep it only once (James 2:10).
Why is Everyone Guilty Under God’s Law?
It’s one thing to say everyone is guilty under God’s law. But why?
The reason God’s law affects you lies in why it affects everybody. The reason everyone is guilty under God’s law is because all of us – everyone – is a sinner before God.
In today’s passage, Paul explains that the way of the law is that through obeying it, a person has life. Yet, all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). Nobody is completely “good” before the law (Psalm 14:2-3).
Today’s passage (actually, quoting an OT passage) tells us that everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands of the law is cursed.
The problem is that everyone has failed to observe the law. We can attempt to obey the 10 Commandments, but in reviewing them, we see that all of us are guilty of breaking at least one of them, at least once.
If we have ever once lied, ever once stolen, ever once disobeyed our parents, ever once used God’s name inappropriately, or broken any of the other commandments, we have failed to observe God’s law.
It’s just like trying to win a contest for picking the NCAA basketball tournament bracket perfectly. If you miss one time, game over.
The only way to fulfill the law is to live a perfect, sinless life. Since we are incapable of being perfect in this way, we have a serious problem. Because there are consequences for being guilty under God’s law.
What are the Consequences of Being Guilty Under God’s Law?
The Bible makes it clear that since everyone is guilty under the law, there are consequences. We are told that those who live in sin have earned death (Romans 6:23).
Well, we’re all going to die, right? That’s true, but the kind of death the Bible talks about here is not physical death, but spiritual death. This is called the “second death” in the Bible (Revelation 21:8). If we remain guilty under God’s law, this is our destiny.
This is a problem for everyone on the earth. Whether we choose to believe in God or not, follow Christ or not, does not matter. What we find in the Bible is that God has sworn by His own name that every knee will bend to Him, and every tongue will swear allegiance to Him (Isaiah 45:20-25).
One day, every person will bow before God. Better to do it as His friend.
The time to do something about it as now, while we are still alive. If we die in our sins (John 8:23-24), it will be too late to do anything about it.
The good news – and it is Good News – is that we do have a way out from under the penalty of sin.
How to Go from Guilty to Forgiven
Everyone is guilty under God’s law. We cannot atone for our own guilt. Therefore, we must trust something outside ourselves to be delivered.
Unfortunately, some who are reading this today have been given something that is closely related to the truth but is not enough to provide for our salvation.
Being a church member won’t save us. Coming from a Christian home won’t save us. Even doing the things that God says won’t save us.
This is where Jesus Christ, who is our way of salvation, comes in. Because what saves us is not a program, but a person, and what that person did.
Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, came to earth and lived a perfect, sinless life (1 Peter 2:22, Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 3:5). In this state of perfection, He allowed Himself to be put to death, offering Himself as a once-and-for-all sacrifice for all the sins of the world. In so doing, Christ imparts His perfection on those who have given their lives to follow Him.
Christ offers this sacrifice, and we can choose to accept this atonement for our sins. So how do we take this important step?
We must turn to Christ in repentance – acknowledging Christ as God and admitting our sin and hopelessness without His sacrifice. Then we follow Him, surrendering, obeying, and abiding with Christ daily. There are also some helpful first steps that every believer can take as they begin their journey.
Remember, friend: everyone is guilty under God’s law. If you have not decided to repent of your sins and follow Christ yet, please do so today.
More Bible verses about God’s law: