Breaking the Law

Daily Reform, Day 111

Galatians 2:16 & Hebrews 10:11-18

From the Reformer

For the sake of argument let us suppose that you could fulfill the Law in the spirit of the first commandment of God: “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart.” It would do you no good. A person simply is not justified by the works of the Law.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

Keeping the Law meant that when you broke it, you still kept it by making the due sacrifice for your sin. So even when you sinned, or broke the Law, you could keep the Law, as long as you paid the fine. To use a modern example, when you drive from one city to the next, you will very likely break some traffic law. Perhaps you will edge over the speed limit to pass a slow-moving vehicle or fail to signal a turn. Maybe you will even break God’s law, by not loving your neighbor and his lousy driving skills. If the traffic laws were synonymous with the Mosaic Law, you would be required to pay the fine for your driving sins whether or not you were stopped by an officer of the law. If you do so, you would be said to have kept the law – even though you violated one of the conditions of the law.

When you have paid your earthly fine, however, it does not justify the fact that you broke the law. It just means you paid the penalty. Just so, if you pay the penalty of God’s Law, it does not justify the fact that you sinned. To make matters worse, there is no method by which you can pay the penalty of breaking God’s Law. There is no Temple in Jerusalem for your sacrifice, and if there were, God would not accept it because there is no longer a need to pay for your crimes. God no longer requires sacrifices because the ultimate sacrifice has been made. (Psa 40:6; Heb 10:5-6)

Because of forgiveness, there is no longer a need for any offering for sin. (Heb 10:18) You are forgiven because your fines have all been paid. The Law has been satisfied in the one payment of Christ on the cross. There is no longer the need for paying fines because God no longer remembers your lawless deeds. (Heb 10:17)

The result is that you are not, and cannot be, justified by keeping the Law but by believing in faith that Christ satisfied the demands of the Law on the cross. The one and only sacrifice for your sin has been accomplished. This alone is what justifies you with God. Believe.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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