9. Why can’t the law justify man?




Because the law was not given to man in order to justify man before God, but in order to prompt him to commit more sins, for the apostle Paul says that “the law entered that the offense might abound” (Romans 5:20 – NKJV). Therefore, God caused sin, which was already in the world before the law was given, to abound through the law. To use an expression used by Paul, the law was given “so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful” (Romans 7:13 – NKJV), for apart from the law sin was dead (Romans 7:8).

The law was given for this reason also, in order to make known sin to man. For without the law men would not have known whether a certain act was sin or not. For instance, Paul said that he would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’ (Romans 7:7).

That the law can’t justify man is a concept that God proclaimed through the prophets, saying that the just will live by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4) and not by keeping the commandments of the law. And in the Old Testament we have an example of a person who lived by his faith, that is, Abraham about whom the Scripture says that he believed in the Lord and God accounted it (that is, his faith) to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

Therefore a man is justified only by faith in Christ apart from the works of the law; this prevents him from boasting before God in that he is justified freely. It is not by works - says Paul - so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:9). Amen.