Some years ago, I visited the doctor to hear the results of some routine tests. I was expecting a good report. Instead, he told me I had a form of cancer. As you might imagine, I was upset. But then, much to my relief, he said the cancer was treatable and my prospects for recovery were good.
We may wonder why God gave the Law if its only power was to show that we are sinners. Yet verse one says the Law has value. Our failure to measure up does not diminish the Law’s validity. Nor does our sinful condition make God unjust in holding us to this standard (v. 5). So why did God give the Law? One reason was to shatter our denial. The Law helps us to get real about our sin. God’s Law teaches that there is no one righteous, “not even one” (v. 9).
The quotes in verses 10–18 come from the Psalms and Isaiah and offer a stark description of human behavior. They reveal that we are in flight from God even when we seem to be at our most religious. Left to ourselves, none of us would seek God. This may be hard to accept. But it is accurate. Like a doctor’s diagnosis of cancer, it is painful to hear about our condition until we realize there is a solution. It is far better to know our true spiritual condition than to think we are better off than what is really the case. Merely knowing the difference between right and wrong is not enough. Those who possessed God’s Law were not more righteous than those who did not, simply because they knew the truth.
>> Why, then, did God give the Law? He didn’t give it to us as a ladder that would enable us to climb into His presence. Instead, He gave us the Law as a mirror. When we look at the Law, it makes us “conscious of our sin” (v. 20).
Righteousness is not a step-by-step process. You gave us the Law to show us how truly we fall short—and then You gave us salvation through Your Son. Teach us to rely on You, God, instead of our own behavior.