The Nature of Law
Text: Romans 7:1-14
I. Laws can be irritating at times.
A. Do this, don’t do that.
B. Of course, we never get it right.
C. Why do we need laws?
II. Law defines right and wrong - Romans 7:7-13
A. The law does not make things right or wrong, it simply states what exists.
1. We have, in science, a law of gravity.
a. Now gravity existed long before someone came up with the law of gravity.
b. The law of gravity defines how gravity operates, but it did not create gravity.
2. Murder is wrong. The law only explained that murder is a sin. The law did not make murder into a sin.
3. This is why God’s law is called truth - Psalms 119:142
a. Unlike man’s laws which are sometimes arbitrary and inaccurate, God’s law accurately define what exists.
B. Though things are right or wrong, even without a law, justice demands that a law must define something sinful before sin will be counted against us - Romans 5:13
1. Sin is defined to be the breaking of law - I John 3:4
2. Sin therefore dies without law - Romans 7:8
3. Before we were aware of law (when we were children), sin was unable to destroy us - Romans 7:9
a. There is a time when people have no knowledge of good and evil - Deuteronomy 1:39
b. However, we grow up. We realize there are laws defining right and wrong, and we are then held accountable for our actions.
C. Now remember that law does not make something wrong.
1. It defines wrong behavior, allowing God to justly hold us accountable for our actions.
2. Think about this, if no one ever told me not to touch the hot stove, would that have spared me a burn when I touched it?
a. Of course not!
b. My lack of awareness of the danger doesn’t change the consequence.
c. But you know the lack of warning might spare me a whipping from mom.
3. When God told Adam and Eve not to eat of one tree, He was telling them what already existed - Genesis 2:16-17
a. Danger existed. There was something there that had bad consequences.
b. Adam and Eve were made aware, by a commandment, that the danger existed.
c. Yet, they broke the commandment and thereby sinned - Romans 5:12
D. God has always warned us of the dangers. There has always been laws - Romans 5:12-13
1. Even before Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, people had laws.
2. How do I know? Because people were sinning before Moses lived - Genesis 4:7
3. Sin doesn’t exist without the presence of law.
E. Now some clever person might think, “Hey! If I never learn the law, then God won’t hold me accountable for my sins. I won’t be aware of the dangers, but at least I won’t go to Hell for breaking God’s law.”
1. Paul discusses this in Romans 2:14-16
a. The Jews were given a law by God, but the Gentiles did not have this law.
b. Therefore, how could God condemn the Gentiles when they did not have Moses’ Law?
2. Paul tells us that there are some laws that are instinctively within us.
a. People have always known murder is wrong.
b. People know you should not take what belongs to other.
c. The fact that people, even without Moses’ law, lived by a moral code shows their awareness of right and wrong.
d. It might not be well defined, but the law exists, and they are held accountable for it.
III. Other purposes of the Law
A. Because the law defines right and wrong, it can be called a teacher - Galatians 3:24
1. We can be aware of dangers before we actually commit them.
2. But there is a side-effect that is not so nice - Romans 7:7-8
a. If I told you not to think of an elephant, the image of an elephant will pop up in most of our minds.
b. Few of us are clever enough to think of all the possible sins in the world, but when the sin is defined for us, so as to warn us of the danger, well, the idea of the sin is now planted in our minds.
c. Sin will take that opportunity to tempt us.
B. Law is a testimony of God - Psalms 19:7
1. They prove the greatness of their Maker - Psalms 78:1-7
2. When God kept His promises, the law provided evidence - Ezekiel 39:27-29
C. Law proves we need a savior - Galatians 3:22
1. It proves we all sin - Romans 3:23
2. It shows the true extent of our misery - Romans 5:20-21
IV. Law cannot make a person right - Galatians 3:21
A. It tells us what righteousness is, but it also warns us what wickedness is.
B. The world existed for thousands of years before Moses, but all men sinned.
C. The Jews were given a clear law, written out for them in black and white. That law was in effect for about 1500 years; yet, people still continued to sin.
D. If perfect law keeping could save people, someone in that time would have been saved, but no one was.
E. There was a weakness in the law - Hebrews 7:18-19
1. The weakness is that man was expected to keep it, but they were unable to do so.
2. The law is holy, coming from God, but we are miserable sinners - Romans 7:14
V. Hence God established a way to save man that did not require perfect law keeping - Galatians 2:16
A. Here some stand up and say, “Yippee! I don’t have to worry about law any more!”
B. Paul says otherwise. Read the next verse - Galatians 2:17
1. Sin only exists where there is law.
2. If we can be judged a sinner while seeking justification in Christ, then it means law still exists.
C. We cannot claim salvation and continue in sin - Romans 6:1-2
D. We cannot be saved by law, but those desiring to be saved cannot willfully break the laws of their Savior - John 14:15
E. The commandments of God are not burdensome - I John 5:3
1. They exist for our benefit, to keep us out of danger.
2. They teach us how to please our God.
F. The part that we could not do – to save ourselves, God has done for us.
1. He sent His son to pay our debt of sin.
2. All He asks in return is faithful obedience to His will
G. To become a child of God, God asks us to listen to His teachings, have faith in Him, leave our sins behind through repentance, stand boldly for our Savior by confessing our faith in Him, and to be baptized for the remission of our sins.
H. If you are a child of God, we know that sin still happens, but forgiveness is available - I John 1:8-2:1