What No Law Can Do

Justin Johnson

The law cannot prevent bad behavior. The law cannot eliminate sin. It can only show the knowledge of sin as evidenced from Romans 3:20.

“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.” – Romans 3:20

Even so, the natural man’s solution to eliminate the evils, the bad, the crime in society is always to make new laws. Want to prevent homosexuality? Make a law. Want to stop bad language? Make a law. Want to reduce cheating? Make a law.

Writing laws without dealing with the problem of sin is destined to fail.

This may be evident from our own litigious country having the highest incarceration rate in the world. The way crime is typically handled is to lock it up behind the bars of the law. Out of sight is out of mind. Yet, crime remains, because the source of the problem is ignored: sin.

The best laws in the world cannot separate people from sin (Rom 5:12, 7:14). Even God’s law could not eliminate the evil and sin in society:

“…for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by [God’s law].” – Gal 3:21

Like a floodlight in a dark alley the law exposes sin for what it is: exceedingly sinful, nasty, and dirty. As a result all of us are guilty under God’s perfect law (Rom 3:19). Guilty! Throw all of us in jail!

The law in all its holy power can not change a man:

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh…” – Romans 8:3

There is a solution to sin in the world and it does not come by the law. The solution is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” – Romans 8:4

The law condemns the natural man, but the gospel creates a new creature, a spiritual man who walks after the Spirit. Sin is condemned through Jesus, and the old man is crucified. This spiritual inner change is just what is needed in a present evil world to deal with sin: not more laws.

The law may be holy and just, but it can only give us knowledge of the problem. We need the gospel of Christ to change us into the spiritual creatures that are able to bear godly fruit.

Sin is not dealt with by laws, chains, and bars, but by the nails on the cross. We do not need to change our laws. We need to change men’s souls. No law can do this.

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Published: September 24, 2011
Last Modified: March 24, 2017
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