Why did God give us the law?

One of the criticisms of God by some is that God gave us all these rules.  People see God as a “cosmic kill-joy” for telling us things like sex is only for marriage and not to steal and not to lie and not to covet.  All the “fun” things in the eyes of many seem to be prohibited by God.  Of course, if you’ve ever been the victim of a thief or an adulterer or know someone who has an STD they picked up from a one night stand somewhere, it is very clear at least one reason why God gave us all the rules.  God gave us the rules for our protection.  When we obey God, we will free ourselves from many, many bad consequences.  But I don’t think that’s the main reason that God gave us the law.  In Romans chapter 3, Paul writes about the main reason God gave us the law.  Here is what he writes:  20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

There are actually two important points in this one sentence.  The first is that no flesh will be justified by the deeds of the law.  We cannot enter into relationship with the living God through our good efforts.  Earlier in chapter 3 Paul reminds all of us of our sin and our depravity.  We need the righteousness of Jesus Christ that we receive by faith.  But the next phrase is my focus today: “for by the law is the knowledge of sin”.  God gave us the law so that we could clearly see that we are sinners.  The law was never intended to be kept by human beings, but to demonstrate to human beings that it could NOT be kept.  Since we cannot keep the law, we are guilty before God.  This is why we all need Jesus Christ.  We need His righteousness to free us from the condemnation that we have brought on ourselves through breaking God’s law.

It is sort of like the “wet paint sign” syndrome.  When many people see a “wet paint…do not touch” sign, there is a pull on the heart to just reach out and touch the freshly painted item…where no pull would have been without the sign.  The very fact that we are not to touch the sign reveals within us our desire to rebel…and touch the sign.  You see this often in children.  Why do we have that desire?  We have that desire because we are sinners and the law, God’s rules, reveal that sin to us so that we would see our desperate need for a Savior.  Paul writes about how this worked in his own life in relation to coveting in Romans 7:6-8:  What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.

God didn’t give us the law to spoil our fun.  He gave us the law for our protection and for our provision…but MOST IMPORTANTLY, He gave us the law to show us our sin and our need for a Savior.

Have a good and godly day!


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