The Law Justifies No One
9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19 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. 20 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.
Last week Paul concluded with the phrase “whose damnation is just” speaking of those who accused Paul of preaching a Gospel which say let us do evil that good may come. The legalist of Paul’s time accused Paul by saying that his gospel gave people liberty to sin.
“There is a sense in which the doctrine of justification by faith only is a very dangerous doctrine; dangerous, I mean, in the sense that it can be misunderstood. It exposes a man to this particular charge. People listening to it may say, ‘Ah, there is a man who does not encourage us to live a good life, he seems to say that there is no value in our works, he says that ‘all our righteousness are as filthy rags.’ Therefore what he is saying is that it does not matter what you do, sin as much as you like.’ . . . There is thus clearly a sense in which the message of “justification by faith only” can be dangerous, and likewise with the message that salvation is entirely of grace. . . . I say therefore that if our preaching does not expose us to that charge and to that misunderstanding, it is because we are not really preaching the gospel.” ~David Martyn Lloyd-Jones~
If Paul was misunderstood in this way then we should not think it strange when we are.
Paul began this chapter with the question “What advantage then hath the Jew?” to which he answers “much every way” and then proceeds to tell us of their advantage in that the oracles of God were committed unto them. The question we then find in verse 9 is very much the same.
What then? are we better than they?”
His answer here seems to contradict his answer in verse 2. He says “No in no wise” Yes they had the advantage of the scriptures the Law and profits, that the messiah came from the Jews but they have no advantage in their spiritual condition before God.
All Are Under Sin
All Are Under Sin
Are we better than they? Paul ask. That is are we Jews better than the Gentiles in as far as God’s favour is concerned?
The answer “No in no wise”
Both Jews And Gentiles have this in common. We are all under sin. Regardless of the advantages that God gave to the Jews their condition before God is no different to the Gentiles.
9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
Paul uses the first 3 chapters to make this point
This doctrine is known as the Total Depravity of Mankind. Why is this doctrine so important? Why would Paul spend so much time driving this point home?
The truth about our total depravity prepares the way for grace.
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
You can’t truly sing “amazing grace how sweet the sound” until you can first sing “that saved a wretch like me.”
After giving the conclusion of the last two chapters Paul begins quoting several scriptures from Ecc Ps. Isa. all strung together to support his statement.
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
total depravity, wretched, hopeless, helpless, lost, wicked, enemies of God. Such is the state of mankind. I’m convinced that even Christ death on the cross would be of no benefit to anyone described in these verses unless the Father actively draws them to Christ. In this state on depravity we don’t even realise that anything is wrong and we don’t even seek God.
Now God gave His perfect Law to the world described here. But what good could laws do for a world that was so depraved that they don’t even seek God. One this is for certain, it was not so that they might be made righteous by the works of Law.
No One Is Justified by Works
No One Is Justified by Works
Paul tells us the purpose of the Law.
19 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. 20 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.
So the law was never given as a solution for our disobedience. It was given to condemn us. It was given so that our sin might appear sin. To stop every mouth from boasting in our self-righteousness. So that we would be guilty before God.
So Paul concludes “therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” It alway had to be by grace because works was never an option for us.
In chapter 11 Paul is speaking about Israel saying that God has not cast away Israel but that there is a remnant.
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
So why is it that we receive this grace unto justification yet we still try to live this new life through the the works of the Law? Now that I’m a Christian I must do this or I must stop doing that. We try through will power to conform ourselves into what we have contrived in our minds to be the perfect Christian. In the church in Galatia this image of the perfect Christian was to be the perfect Jew. So the Jews had convinced the Gentile believers that they now had to keep the Law.
1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
I believe that this can equally apply to us. we will not have victory over sin in our life through the work of the flesh. That is, I will never succeed in overcoming sin buy trying with all my might. Our sanctification is by grace through faith in the Spirit. I promises you this, when sin is overcome in your life in this way you will not have to exercise great will power in battling to not sin, you will not have a desire for that sin. You will also not be able to boast in overcoming because it was not you but Christ in you.