The purpose of God’s law is to make it abundantly clear how hopeless we all are without salvation through Jesus Christ.
God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21).
One popular method of evangelism is to ask something along the lines of “if God were to ask you why He should let you into Heaven, what would you say?”
Sometimes a person says they have lived a good life or consider themselves a good person.
The brutal truth as revealed in the Bible is that nobody – not one single person – is good (Psalm 14:1-3).
We find evidence of this fact in God’s law. When we look at the 10 Commandments, we realize that nobody can expect to adhere to these perfectly over the course of their lives.
This is in fact the purpose of God’s law; to reveal to everyone that they are incapable of being good. So, if anyone is relying on their goodness to answer God’s question, they are in for a shock. Their “goodness” is not going to be enough for God to open Heaven’s doors. God loves us, but He is also just.
Thankfully, God’s law is not how we attain salvation. It points the way.
God’s Grace Revealed Through the Law
In today’s verse, we understand that the purpose of God’s law was to be a mirror for our unrighteousness.
As the law stood before the Jews, generation after generation, and with each ceremonial sacrifice, the sins of the nation became abundantly clear. And simply abundant.
And lest we think that we’re only talking about the Jewish law, we are reminded in scriptures that Gentiles instinctively understand God’s law. It is seared in everyone’s consciences, as we are all beings that are capable of understanding right from wrong (Romans 2:12-16).
If God’s grace is sufficient to cover the sins of the world, as the mountain of sin grows through man’s actions, so does God’s gracious response. There is no summit to our sin that God’s grace can’t shine above.
This is why we must rely on Jesus Christ to be our Savior. He did what nobody else who has ever lived or will live could do. His sacrifice on the cross paid for our sins in full.
Any time we are convicted of our sin, the purpose of God’s law is made clear. We understand that we can never hope to attain righteousness on our own ability.
We Cannot be Made Righteous by the Law
But won’t God give us credit if we live an outstanding life?
No. The problem we run into is that for the law to be upheld, it must be upheld in full. It only requires one momentary lapse, one sin, and the entire weight of the law collapses in on us (James 2:10).
The truth is, apart from Christ, there is no righteousness. The purpose of God’s law is to make that clear to all of humankind.
We cannot hope to fulfill the law and attain righteousness ourselves. Our only option is to put our faith in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. That by shedding His blood on the cross, Christ paid the penalty for our sins, allowing us to be made right with God (Romans 3:23-26).
It is through this faith in Christ’s sacrifice that anyone – Jew or Gentile – can have a “circumcised heart”, being created by the work of the Holy Spirit. Once God’s light dwells within us, our hearts can now do more than attempt to seek righteousness – we can desire it. Because when put our faith in Christ, we will be transformed to desire His praise (Romans 2:25-29).
The Fulfillment of God’s Law is Christ
We can put our faith in Christ’s work on the cross. It fulfilled the requirements of God’s law on behalf of anyone who puts their trust in Him. Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient so that anyone who believes can be saved (John 6:40). We simply need to accept His invitation to believe in Him.
Christ Himself tells us that He came to “accomplish the purpose” of God’s law (Matthew 5:17). Keeping the law cannot save us. However, it has value for helping us know what pleases God. Indeed, what Christ calls the 2 greatest commandments for His followers to obey are the heart of the entire law.
And here is very good news: because of the completeness of Christ’s work, when we put our faith in Him for the atonement of our sins, the Bible assures us that we no longer stand condemned before God. We are now freed from the power of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). Christ’s sacrifice – unlike the repeated ceremonial sacrifices under the Jewish system – is once and for all, “good for all time” (Hebrews 10:11-14).
Christ confirms He is the only means we have for salvation. Unfortunately, even those of us who grew up in church can miss this truth.
Does thinking about salvation in this way make you pause to think? If so, please ensure you are placing your trust in the right place. Then you can be confident that if God asks you why you should be allowed into Heaven, you can answer Him regarding your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ’s atoning work on the cross for your sins.
More Bible verses about the purpose of God’s law:
Psalm 19:7-11; Ecclesiastes 12:13; John 14:15; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 7:7-13; Galatians 5:14; 1 John 5:1-5