Lesson 5: A Humanitarian by Giving the Law

Go Deeper

Study Guide Pages 34-41

More Key Bible Verses

Read Romans 3:20-26.

The Apostle Paul explains that God declares us righteous and welcomes people into his presence, not because they have kept the commandments. Instead, he does this because they trust that Jesus has done everything for them, including keeping all the commandments.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Romans 3:20-26

Read and study the following quotes from “A Humanitarian by Giving the Law” chapter 5 of God—The Ultimate Humanitarian.

The law is not a ladder to climb; instead, it is a mirror revealing the ugly truth of our sinfulness.

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin” (Romans 3:20). This verse clearly states that no one wins God’s approval, is “declared righteous,” through obedience to his commandments. Instead his commands make us conscious of our disobedience, of our sins. God didn’t give the law as a ladder enabling us to climb to heaven – each commandment being another rung on the ladder. Rather he gave the law as a mirror to show us our sins.

The law does this by issuing commands which are impossible for us to keep. This is a point most people don’t see. Many think they keep the Ten Commandments. They don’t understand that God doesn’t command a superficial compliance. In Matthew chapters 5-7, Jesus brilliantly highlights the fallacy of such thinking. There he unpacks the essence of some of God’s commands. He tells us God not only forbids actual murder but also hurtful words and even flashes of anger. Adultery includes lustful thoughts. On and on it goes. Jesus sums up his treatment of the law with the command to be perfect! A person cannot thoughtfully read those chapters without coming away with a deeper realization of the depth of their sinfulness.

Issuing impossible commands doesn’t seem to be a humanitarian act. It looks more like God is cruelly toying with humanity. However that is only how it appears. At Mt. Sinai God didn’t break his pattern of working in mankind’s best interests. He knew we had to see the seriousness of our sin problem before we would despair of our own goodness and cry out for help. Just like a doctor shows a patient X-rays to convince him he has cancer, so God uses the law as his X-ray to convince us that we are permeated with the cancer of sin. Then and only then are we eager to hear about his cure of a Savior.

God—The Ultimate Humanitarian, 35-36

Through the law, God diagnoses in innumerable ways our sinfulness and need for a savior.

God wants to convince us that we are in terrible trouble before it is too late. Therefore he not only gave commandments to reveal our sinfulness, he also gave an abundance of commandments to make it abundantly clear how sinful we are. He did this even though the Son of God had to pay the price for every last sin. This is how much God loves us. Even when it comes to making us aware of our sinful condition, he is the Great Physician. He is the ultimate humanitarian.

God—The Ultimate Humanitarian, 36-37

More Questions to Consider

  1. What CAN God’s law do? What CAN’T God’s law do?
  2. If he knew we couldn’t keep all of his commandments, why did God them in the first place?
  3. Why do humans tend to place trust in themselves and their works rather than God and his works?
  4. Why is it important to understand that God is not merely looking for superficial compliance regarding his commandments? Why is it dangerous to say that all God demands is that we “try” or “do our best?”
  5. How does the giving of his law demonstrate God as the Ultimate Humanitarian?

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