The Value Of The Law (Rom 3:19-31)

Audio Player

Pastor Mark Mikels – January 3, 2010
“THE VALUE OF THE LAW”
(Romans 3:19-31)

Intro … This morning, as we prepare for our first communion service of the New Year, we come to a passage in Romans that could not be more appropriate – Romans 3:19-31. Follow along as I read …

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (That is, we recognize just how sinful, how unrighteous we are.)

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. (Now that’s the only way a man can be justified.)

Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith?
Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. (That is, we recognize and value the law, for it plays and has played and will continue to play an essential role in our understanding of our salvation itself.)

Thus the title of our meditation this morning:
“THE VALUE OF THE LAW”.

I find in that passage four incredibly helpful and necessary things that the
Law accomplishes in the ultimate plan of God to bring salvation to the world.
Four things that can be incredibly helpful to the saved as well as to the lost;
four things that can place our feet on a good and solid path as we enter into
this New Year.

Let’s look at them together …

* The Law SHUTS Every Man’s MOUTH
As It Establishes Every Man’s GUILT. (vs. 19)

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are
under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and
the whole world held accountable to God.”

The LAW … whether the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai or the Summarized Law given by Jesus (Love the Lord your God with all
of your heart and with all of your mind and with all of your soul and with all of your strength and Love your neighbor as yourself) or the dozens of specific prohibitions and expectations applied to the Jewish people or the Moral Law that (Paul has previously established) exists inside every human heart … (that LAW) has the ability to shut up those who think that they have accomplished something great – those who would think of themselves as being good or righteous and worthy of honor and distinction.

The LAW would silence all those who would declare their moral superiority over someone else. The LAW would silence and declare foolish anyone who would dare say,
“I’ll take my chances when I stand before God –
I’ve lived a pretty good life – I’m better than most”.

The LAW declares the sinfulness of all … the LAW demonstrates that all are worthy of receiving its harshest judgment. When confronted with the reality of the situation, there’s not one human being who can justifiably declare himself innocent or acceptable.

Thus we come to the second great Value of the LAW seen in this passage …

* The Law Would Bring Every Man
To The POINT of DESPAIR. (vs. 20)

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law;
rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Man in and of himself cannot be both conscious of sin and optimistic about his future … Any moral being (and that’s what God has created human beings to be) knows that immoral living leads eventually to judgment … Sinful living leads eventually to self-condemnation.

And the LAW makes sure that man understands that he cannot reverse his course and solve his problem by simply “living better”.

Every New Year’s Resolution ever made in one way or another takes the form … “This year I’m going to live better” – “This year I’m going to live in such a way that come December 31st, I’ll be proud of myself – I’ll be able to pat myself on the back and say ‘You’ve done it’ and possibly and hopefully everyone who knows me will say the same!”

Most of us can’t even do that with regard to some isolated specific behavior let alone all the behaviors of life taken together. And that doesn’t even take into account the thoughts and feelings that lie within that are known to none but us and God – the thoughts and the feelings that God evaluates right along with our outward actions.

The LAW indeed would bring every man to the place of despair – the despair of inability – the despair that says,

“I can’t do it – I’m destined to fall short forever and some day I will stand
before a Holy God whose standard is perfection – whose LAW is absolute”.

And it’s in the bringing of man to such a point of despair that the LAW demonstrates the third great value I find in this passage …

* The Law PREPARES Man For
God’s Gracious PROVISION. (vss. 22-25)

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Has there ever been better news than that … God has provided another way – a way that I can be declared righteous (that is, a law-keeper) even though (I know) I cannot actually “keep” the LAW – or even come close to keeping it.

This is like a drowning man being thrown a life preserver … better yet, this is like a rescuer diving into the water and pulling him to shore knowing that he wouldn’t even have had the strength to hold onto a life preserver had he been thrown one.

God has figured out a way to do it all though it required me swallowing quite a bit of water before I was ready for Him to do it for me.

Listen again to that central statement … verse 23-25

“There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His Blood …”

“All fall short” … that we already knew; that’s the truth that the LAW would teach us all … here’s the new thing – the exciting thing …

“All are justified freely” … this applies to everyone and it comes without the requirement of “law-keeping” … in fact, it comes to “law-breakers” like us.

“By His Grace” … this is absolutely undeserved – I didn’t earn it.

“Through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ” … Jesus did something for me that I could never do for myself – He bought me back from the place of judgment and provided me with an entirely different destiny.

“A Sacrifice of Atonement” … This gracious provision of God necessitated not only Jesus’ sinless life on earth but his Sacrificial death on Calvary’s Cross.

“Through Faith In His Blood” … there’s the hint of what is yet to come – what Paul will spend most of chapter four discussing.

“Faith” is the key. Believing in – trusting yourself to – the work that Jesus accomplished on Calvary. That is the sole human element and even that God will help you with …

Remember the distressed father who said to Jesus … “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” … Billy Graham has always said … “You only need to be willing to be willing.” This morning we provide yet another opportunity for you to exercise “faith in his blood” as we share communion together.

“To be (both) Just and the Justifier” … God didn’t suspend the law and its demands – he provided a “Law-Keeper” and allowed him to take our place.

And now a final thing – a thing that at this point should go without saying but a thing that Paul says nonetheless …

* The Law Eliminates Both PRIDE and PREJUDICE – (vss. 27-31)

Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. (Now that’s the only way a man can be justified.)

Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

There’s no room for pride and pride’s frequent companion prejudice in the heart of a man who has learned the lessons taught by the LAW … He knows he is better than no one else. He knows that he is as needful of God’s forgiveness as anyone else. He knows that in and of himself he stands helpless (along with every other human being) before a God who has brought all men out of one.
The LAW has eliminated his “edge” and taken away any ground upon which he might value one type of man over another.

Four Incredible Values brought into the world by the LAW …

It is any wonder Paul would conclude this passage by saying … “We uphold the LAW” … We underscore his statement with Today’s Final Thot …

Final Thot …
UPHOLDING the LAW readies man to RECEIVE the Savior.

So Where do you stand this morning? Do you uphold the LAW ?

Have you recognized the validity of the LAW to point out your sin and to declare you Guilty before God?

Have you allowed the LAW to bring you to a point of despair – have you realized that there is no way that you can ever keep it, no way that you can ever be acceptable in God’s eyes because of it?

Has your understanding of the LAW prepared you – readied you – stirred a desperate desire within you – for some provision outside of yourself whereby you can get out from under the judgment of God?

Have you received God’s Provision – the very one that the LAW has convinced you that you need? Have you exercised faith in Jesus Christ and his Sacrificial Death on the Cross?

Do you desire to do so this morning – do you desire to renew yourself in that faith as we enter into this New Year?

Share in this communion meal with us …

Eat the Bread and Drink of the Cup as though it were Christ Himself that
you were devouring – yield yourself entirely to Him and trust yourself and your eternal destiny entirely to His Work of Redemption on the Cross and you
shall be saved.

Speak Your Mind