Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
— Romans 3:20 —
Every generation has had to define, defend, and declare the gospel of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul in his letters to the Romans and Galatians addressed the error of adding works to faith in order to merit one’s salvation. The Protestant Reformers fought the same battle with the Roman Catholic Church, and even today this false doctrine is making attempts to creep into the church. The purpose of the Law was never to justify a depraved sinner, but to pull back the curtain and show him his sin and condemnation before a holy God. Man’s natural tendency is to want to have a part in his salvation. But as Jonathan Edwards rightly stated, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” Romans 3:9–20 describes the anatomy of man’s depravity and shows the impossibility of doing anything to merit one’s salvation. Every part of us is tainted and corrupted by sin. Therefore, no amount of obedience to the Law or maintaining good works can persuade God to declare us righteous and worthy of entering His glory. Even our most righteous deeds are stained with sin and are no more than filthy rags in His eyes (Isa. 64:6). The purpose of the Law was never to justify a depraved sinner, but to pull back the curtain and show him his sin and condemnation before a holy God. It was given to reveal man’s need for a Savior. The next opportunity you have to share the gospel, include the Law and the impossibility of keeping it. It shows a sinner he is guilty before the righteous Judge, and can only leave God’s courtroom justified by trusting Christ for his salvation. Jesus fully satisfied the justice of God by dying as our substitute. Only faith in Him saves.