We all know nobody can be saved by keeping the law. In many places, the Bible clearly states that no man can be justified (declared righteous) by adherence to the law. Here are a few examples.
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deed of the law. (Romans 3:28)
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Galatians 2:21)
The statements here and in many other passages are straightforward and plain. And they contain no time limit. No man in the Old Testament, no man in the New Testament could be made righteous by the law.
What I'd like for us to consider is why the law lacks the power to save a man. We are going to focus on 2 reasons, though there are probably many more.
1. Nobody can keep it.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. (Galatians 3:10-13).
God placed the man and the woman in the garden with 1 commandment, and they broke it in no time…and they passed down that sinful nature to all of their descendants (Romans 5:12).
Now, some people say you have to keep the 10 commandments to go to heaven (interestingly enough, I've never met one of these people who could name all 10). There are 3 things we need to remind them of…and keep in mind ourselves:
> There is no Bible verse that ever comes anywhere close to saying you have to keep the 10 commandments to go to heaven.
> James 2:10-11 says one violation makes a man guilty of breaking the entire law. One transgression makes a man a lawbreaker. Galatians 3 says that puts him under the law's curse. The standard is complete adherence. The requirement is perfection.
> When the Bible mentions "the law," it's talking about more than the 10 commandments. Remember, "the law" is the entire body of commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Nobody with half a right mind would claim to be able to keep it all. And even if they did claim it, that wouldn't make it true.
2. It was never intended to do so.
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should had had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4)
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
We'll study the different purposes of the law later, but notice that the law is given to point us to Jesus Christ. It is a shadow of good things to come. The tabernacles, the sacrifices, the offerings, the vessels of ministry, the priests, they all point to Jesus. He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (James 1:29). Christ is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Notice from the Hebrews passage: the fact that the sacrifices had to be made year after year after year served as a reminder that they didn't do the trick. If a sacrifice took away my sins, then my sins are gone, and I'll never need another sacrifice. That was not accomplished until Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice on Calvary. But this man, after he had offered once sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God (v. 12).
Here are some notes from the class on Hebrews regarding why it was not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (v. 4):
> A goat is not of the same nature with those who sin.
> A goat is not of sufficient value to make satisfaction for the affronts offered to the justice of God.
> A goat could not consent to put itself in the sinner's place. The animal technically was not a sacrifice. It was killed. It did not lay down its life on the sinner's behalf.
So the law can't save anyone because (1) nobody can keep it and (2) it was never intended to save anyone. When God gave Israel the law, He understood they could never keep it. It is obvious that He had something else in mind. That something else was the very image of the things – the offering of the body and blood of Jesus Christ once for all.
Aren't you glad the only requirement is believe!