Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Sin and the Law (Romans 3)

"Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20).

We live in a society that has abandoned absolute moral standards. We are caught in a flood of relativity as people decide for themselves what is right and wrong. If something is right for one person, it may not necessarily be right for another person.

However, God has established objective, absolute standards by which His creatures are to live. Those standards are found in His law as fully revealed in the Scriptures. This is important for us to understand because without a standard, without a law, there could be no sin. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as any want of conformity to or transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). The law reveals the very righteousness of God and what He has determined as right and wrong.

Paul explains that without the commandments of God, he would have never known sin. “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet’ ” (Rom. 7:7b). God, therefore, gave us His righteous standard that we might know what is pleasing to Him. God’s law remains the standard by which we are to fashion our lives because it is unchanging. The Gospel has not abrogated God’s moral law, for Christians still need to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

The difference between the law for the Christian and the law for the unbeliever is that for the unbeliever the law brings death, oppression, and condemnation. For believers we are enabled by God’s Spirit to obey the law, knowing that we have forgiveness in Christ when we sin. If we are to understand forgiveness in Christ, we must understand confession and repentance; therefore, by knowledge of the law we must understand sin that we might live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.

Though God has given us a conscience that either excuses or accuses us, that conscience does not operate in a vacuum, but must be properly informed by the Word of God as to what is right and wrong. If you ignore God’s law as the standard by which you conduct your life, you will easily be tossed to and fro by the relativism of this age.

What are some ways that cultural forces tend to challenge your conscience? What about your own sinful nature—how does it seek to lessen the seriousness of your sin? Endeavor to examine soberly your conscience today. Let the Scriptures inform it and ask God to keep it tender to His Spirit.