Knowledge of Sin (Romans 3:20)

… because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law [comes] the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:20

There is a pitfall to which I am prone, viz. thinking that I must keep the Law. Sadly, I am not alone in this proclivity.

Paul sets the record straight in the third chapter of Romans. He states that no flesh will be justified … by the works of the Law. In short, I cannot be made right with God on the basis of the Law. But, if the purpose of the Law is not to save, what is it? Paul answers.

The purpose of the Law is to bring me the knowledge of sin. I would not have known I was driving too fast unless there were a speed limit. I would not have known lying was wrong unless God’s Law told me so — we all know how expedient lying can be when asked a question such as “Does this make me look fat?” and American politics seems predicated on lies.

At bottom, both God’s Law and human law serve a very similar function: they tell me what is right and good. They do not empower me to obey them — When was the last time a speed limit gave me any sort of inducement to obey it aside from the threat of punishment in the form of a fine? — and they cannot make me any more or less right with the lawgivers. Laws are standards. Nothing more. Nothing less. God’s Laws are the standards of perfection. If I do not measure up to that standard, I am little surprised.

This morning, let me be reminded that The Law, good and perfect and right as it is, cannot save me and I cannot keep it. I will fail. Miserably. Just as I fail to consistently obey speed limits. In just such a manner will I fail to abide by God’s Law. Let me make recourse to the grace of God and throw myself on His mercy. There I will not be disappointed.


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