Purpose Of The Law

PURPOSE OF THE LAW

Romans 1:4

God put an end to the old order to the law of sin and death for those who are in Christ.
All the old is done away:
There is now no condemnation, no sin, no law, and no death to have power over him.
We have been received into a wholly new order who " walk not according to the flesh,
but according to the Spirit
."
The purpose for which God through Christ put away the old powers and brought in the new order
is stated by Paul in this way: "In order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit
." (v.4)

Those words are so often misunderstood.
Some think that Paul is saying that the believer has been so changed that he can by his works
fulfill all the requirements of the law.
According to that interpretation, this would be Paulís meaning: "The law sets forth
Godís demand of us, and only if they are met in every point can we stand as righteous before God
."
But not one of is can by our own nature fulfill the requirements of the law in that way.
The weakness of the flesh makes that impossible for us.

Now into this situation God comes to us with help.

  • He gives us Christ.
  • He gives us His Spirit, so thereby we receive that which we formerly lacked.
    Now, by the Spirit that God has given us, we can fulfill the requirements of the law.
    That is, Christ in us, fulfills it for us.
    Thus, righteousness is finally attained.

    There are those who would say that the law is the goal and the gospel is the means to that goal.
    But this is not what Paul teaches.

  • It is contrary to What Paul teaches.
  • It is just such a view that he opposes.
    He has never considered it the mission to the gospel to make possible "righteousness by the law."
    "Righteousness by the law" is always for Paul an expression of the false way of salvation...

    The primary purpose of the law is to bear witness to "the righteousness of God" which includes life.
    So, in the old order, this becomes the lawís sole function: "The very commandment which
    promised life proved to be death to me
    ."
    Godís holy law becomes a destroying power.

  • It evokes and increases sin, and sets all things human under the wrath and condemnation of God.
  • It fulfills its purpose to the condemnation of all unrighteousness of man, and equally of all
        legalistic righteousness, for that is not the righteousness that God would have
        established among us.

    Paul stresses the fact that this is exactly Godís purpose for the law.
    It was given in order that sin might become sinful beyond measure (7:13) in order that
    every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may be held accountable to God. (3:19)
    So, the law became the dispensation of condemnation. ( 2 Cor. 3:9)

    The law can condemn, but it does not have the power to effect righteousness.
    So. there is something which the law would bring about, but it cannot.

  • It aims at righteousness and its whole tendency is toward that end,
        but it is unable to realize it.
  • It is given for the sake of life, but it brings about death.
  • Itís ultimate meaning and purpose are not to require that which is evil, and yet, its effect is
        that in which evil is increased.
    So, the law does not reach its goal, but rather leads to the opposite.
    But God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do when He gave us Christ.

    When we are "in Christ," the lawís positive purpose is fulfilled in us.
    It Is not fulfilled in us by our keeping the of the law, but through Christ, and by the fact
    that we are "in Him." Here we see the consequences of what Paul said in chapter seven.
    He said that Christ does not merely give us power to fulfill the demands of righteousness,
    but that He is Himself our righteousness.

    He is "the righteousness of God" which by faith becomes our righteousness.

  • So, those who are "in Christ" are by that very fact righteous and not by a keeping of the law.
  • So, our righteousness consists in the fact that we no longer live of ourselves, but are "in Christ."
  • So, in it is "in Christ," and not through keeping of the law is the righteousness of the law fulfilled.
    This is the most positive thing that Paul says about the law.
    The righteousness of the law has been fulfilled in us through Christ.
    So, for all who are Christians there is condemnation.
    We no longer walk according to the flesh.

    When I was a boy, I was afraid to get in the water.
    I was sure that I would drown.
    To me the water was the law, and the water wouldnít hold me up.
    Then, I was told that there was something in me that would hold me up: my lungs.
    So, I could trust them, not the water.

    We have in us a new governing principle and what the law cannot do He can and does.
    We have within us a Person.
    That Person is Christ.
    He is our life.
    He is our righteousness.
    So, with Christ, we enter a new walk after the Spirit. Praise His Holy Name!

    Some additional notes:
    The whole of the Book of Romans is built up in a seven-fold way on the thought of righteousness:

    1. Righteousness Required - Chs.1-2
    2. Righteousness Revealed - Ch. 3
    3. Righteousness Reckoned - Ch. 4
    4. Righteousness Received - Ch. 5
    5. Righteousness Realized - Chs. 6-8
    6. Righteousness Rejected - Chs. 9-11
    7. Righteousness Reproduced - Chs. 12-16

    Chapter Eight

    1. The disability of the flesh through sin is met by the power of the Spirit. (vs.1-11)
    2. The disability of the heart through fear is met by the presence of the Spirit. (vs.12-17a)
    3. The disability of circumstances through persecution is met by the peace of the Spirit. (vs. 17b-30)
    4. The disability of life through opposition is met by the possession of the Holy Spirit. (vs. 31-39)
    Just as chapter seven teaches the impossibility of holiness in manís way,
    chapter eight is equally clear about the possibility of holiness in Godís way.

    Message by Dr. Harold L. White