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Romans Series #14
Title: “The Work of the Law”
Text: Romans 2:12-16
Subject: The Purpose of God’s Holy Law
Date: Sunday Morning — May 11, 2014
Reading: Galatians 3:1-25
I want to preach to you about “The Work of the Law”. Our text is Romans 2:11-16. God is no respecter of persons. That fact is stated repeatedly throughout the Word of God; and it is stated again here in Romans 2:11.
Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
God is no respecter of persons. How often have you had that statement thrown in your face when trying to tell someone about God’s eternal election and everlasting love, when trying to talk to someone about God’s wonderful sovereignty and predestination, or when trying to declare to wonders of particular redemption and effectual calling? The universal response of poor, lost, deluded souls is, — “God loves everyone. God is no respecter of persons.”
When God the Holy Ghost declares, “there is no respect of persons with God,” he means for us to understand that there is nothing in any human being that can induce the Holy Lord God to look upon him with favor.
Be sure you understand this — “there is no respect of persons with God!” You and I cannot attract God’s favor. We cannot earn God’s mercy. We cannot make ourselves deserving of his grace.
But, blessed be God, there is one Person, one Man, one and only one, whom God respects, one Person who can bring something to God worthy of God’s respect and reward — the Lord Jesus Christ, our Divine Mediator! He is worthy of and has God’s respect from everlasting! And toward his elect, upon the whole election of grace, those chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, the triune Jehovah did have respect. The Lord God states this very clearly in his Word (Deuteronomy 7:6; Isaiah 43:3-4).
Deuteronomy 7:6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
Isaiah 43:3-4 (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (4) Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
Favored in Christ
Looking on us in Christ, as one with Christ, on Christ’s account, each of God’s elect is from everlasting “accepted in the Beloved,” highly distinguished from all Adam’s race as one with Christ! Christ himself is eternal life; and all who have Christ have eternal life in him and all the blessings of life, grace, and salvation connected with it.
Oh, may God the Holy Spirit now convince you that there is more in Christ Jesus to save than there is in sin to condemn! If he will do that for you, what peace, what sweet consolation will follow. And depend upon it, if the Lord speaks peace now, he will not speak condemnation then. He is of one mind, and who can turn him. — God will never unsay what he has once said: — “Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom!”
Because “there is no respect of persons with God,” there’s hope even for you, even for me!
Is Christ willing to save me?
“Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity joined with power:
He is able, He is able,
He is willing; doubt no more.
But I have nothing to offer him…
Come, ye needy, come and welcome,
God’s free bounty, glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Without money, without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.
But I am so vile…
Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all:
Not the righteous, not the righteous,
Sinners Jesus came to call.
But my conscience utterly condemns me…
Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him;
This He gives you, this He gives you,
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.
Is the Son of God able to save a wretch like me?
Lo! th’ incarnate God, ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood;
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.”
Now, let’s read Romans 2:11-16, and see how God the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to teach us this doctrine, that “there is no respect of persons with God.”
Proposition: Paul shows us that there is no respect of persons with God by telling us God demands perfection, by showing us that the whole work of the law given by God shuts us up to Christ alone for righteousness, redemption, and salvation.
Verses 11-12 — “For there is no respect of persons with God. (12) For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” — Divine justice punishes sin wherever it is found. The heathen who sin against the law of God written on their hearts and consciences shall perish under the wrath of God. They are “without excuse.” Religious people, sinning against both the light of nature and the law of God given in Holy Scripture, shall perish by the law. They (you) are “without excuse.”
Then, in the next three verses (parenthetical explanation), the apostle shows us the equity and justice of God in the punishment of sin. Divine judgment is always just judgment. First, Paul shows us that God is just in sending you to hell if you refuse to trust his Son (v. 13).
Romans 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Reading the law, preaching the law, and hearing the law may justify a man in his own eyes and in the eyes of other men. Religious talk and practices may make you think you are saved and may make others think you are saved; but your works and your religion will not justify you before God (Luke 16:15; Mathew 23:27-28).
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Matthew 23:27-28 (27) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. (28) Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
If a you want to be saved by your works, you must produce perfection, inward and outward perfection, perfect obedience, perfect satisfaction, perfect righteousness, perfect holiness (Galatians 3:10; 4:21). Without a perfect holiness, perfect righteousness you cannot be justified (Matthew 5:20). —— That perfection, that righteousness, that holiness is found on in Christ, the Lord our Righteousness (Romans 3:19-26).
Then, in verses 14 and 15, Paul tells us that God is just in punishing the heathen, those who rebel against the light of God given in creation and conscience (vv. 14-15).
Romans 2:14-15 (14) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: (15) Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.)
Everywhere in the world, in all ages of time, human beings have demonstrated the fact that God has written his law in their hearts by creation. Because of the law written in them they make laws to govern the lives of others and protect their own. But…
The Work of the Law
Back up in verse 15 Paul speaks of “the work of the law.” Let me talk to you very plainly about that for just a little bit. Very, very few people understand what the work of the law is. All who attempt to be saved by the law, all who pretend to live by the law, all who try to impose law works upon God’s elect are utterly ignorant of the law. — 5 Things
1. The law of God given by God at Sinai is one. There are no divisions in the law, no categories. It is never, not in Scripture, divided into the moral law and the ceremonial law.
2. The law was given only to the nation of Israel.
3. The law was given to identify, expose, and condemn sin. Without the law we could not know what sin is.
4. The purpose of the law was and is to show us our need of Christ and point us to Christ (Galatians 3:19-29).
Galatians 3:19-29 (19) Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (20) Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. (21) Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. (22) But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (23) But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. (24) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (26) For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
5. Christ is the end of the law (Romans 10:4).
The purpose of God’s holy law is to identify and expose man’s sin, shutting us up to Christ alone for acceptance with God. It is written, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19. — “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).
Before you can be converted, you must be convinced of your sin and guilt. So we preach the holy law of God to convince men of their sin. Before anyone is given the newness of life in Christ, he must be slain by the law. The law is God’s deep cutting plow, by which he breaks up the fallow ground of a man’s heart and conscience, and prepares the soil for the gospel. This plowing is a painful and difficult work, but must be done. — But it takes more than law work to make you know your sin. That will never come, but by the revelation of Christ in you by God the Holy Ghost (John 16:7-11).
The law was not given to makes us righteous, but to shut us up to Christ. Grace, salvation, and eternal life come to chosen sinners upon the ground of and because of the faith, faithfulness, or faithful obedience of Jesus Christ as our Substitute.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Galatians 3:21-25 (21) Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. (22) But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (23) But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. (24) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
It was Christ alone who brought in everlasting righteousness for us. It was Christ alone who redeemed us. It was Christ alone who put away our sins. It was Christ alone who made atonement for us by satisfying the justice of God with his own blood. It was Christ alone who, with his own blood, obtained eternal redemption for us. Our faith in him has no part in the accomplishment of these things!
What does faith do? Nothing! Faith receives. Believing God, every sinner who believes has been given grace, salvation, and eternal life by God the Holy Spirit because God the Father promised it and God the Son purchased it! — “Salvation is of The Lord!”
Before faith came, that is before we came to trust Christ, before God gave us faith in his Son, “we were kept under the law.” As we read in Ephesians 2 ― We were by nature children of wrath, just like everyone else. Though we were justified from eternity by God’s decree and justified at Calvary by Christ’s blood atonement, we knew nothing about it. We lived as wrathful children, hating God, under a sense of guilt, as cursed, condemned sinners, without hope. Our first convictions, our first thoughts toward God, filled us with terror. The law condemned us, condemned us justly. When the law came, sin revived and I died! That is what Paul said (Romans 7:9). — I am dead to the law; and the law is dead to me!
What does that mean? It means exactly what you think it means. It means spiritually what Martin Luther King proclaimed with the passage of the Civil Rights Bill. “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!” So it is with the law. Once the sinner has come to Christ, he is free from the law. The law has no more dominion over him (Romans 6:14-15; 7:4; 10:4).
Salvation comes to sinners, in its entirety, by faith in Christ, by faith alone, without the works of the law. Is that, or is it not the doctrine of Holy Scripture? ― “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is not suggesting that our adoption into the family of God is the result of our believing, not at all. It is just the other way around. Our faith in Christ is the result of our adoption. We were adopted by God before the world began in divine predestination (Ephesians 1:5). It was our adoption that sent the Holy Spirit to us in effectual, regenerating grace. Our adoption in election was the cause of Christ’s atonement and the Spirit’s call (Galatians 4:3-7; 1 John 3:1).
· One In Christ
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (v. 28). ― All who are in Christ are one with him and one in him. In Christ all social, economic, racial barriers are dissolved. The only place in the world where race and place make no difference is in Christ, in the church of Christ. Grace alone can make sinful men and women truly one.
Now, watch this…
“And if ye be Christ’s,” nothing else really matters. If you belong to Christ by the Father’s election, the Son’s redemption, the Spirit’s call, and your own faith in him, if you believe on the Son of God, all is well. If not you’re going to hell. ― “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed.” This is what that means. If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you are the object of God’s love, the recipient of his grace, and “heirs according to the promise.” If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you are God’s forever and he is yours forever! You are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, “according to the promise,” according to the promise of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, made to his Son before the world began!
In the light of these things, hear what the Spirit of God tells us in Romans 2:16. — All who die without Christ shall be justly damned as rebels! Unless God intervenes for you and saves you by his grace, you shall be forever damned (v. 16; Revelation 20:12-15; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Ecclesiastes 12:14).
Romans 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Revelation 20:12-15 (12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (15) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
2 Corinthians 5:10-11 (10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (11) Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Go, yonder, to Calvary, and see the justice of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). When God found sin on his own darling Son, he poured out all the fierceness and fury of his holy wrath upon the Lord of Glory! That was the work of the law!
· The work of the law is to show you your sin.
· The work of the law is to shut you up to Christ.
· The work of the law is to punish sin.
· The work of the law was to punish Christ for sin.
· The work of the law is to justify every sinner who trusts the Lord Jesus Christ!