If people are saved by grace why did Paul teach we need to “establish the law”?

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The apostle Paul wrote in his epistle to the Romans, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (ch. 3:31). Paul clearly taught that man is fully justified by the gospel of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. For “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). Yet, in the context of Romans 3, he also stressed the place of obedience to God’s moral law of the OT (Exodus 20:3-17).

Jesus didn’t abolish the law

Jesus came to this earth to magnify the law. For He declared, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17,18). And by His own obedience, He showed the necessity to do God’s will through God’s enabling grace (John 15:5).

The plan of justification by faith reveals God’s regard for His law in both requiring and offering the redeeming sacrifice (Isaiah 42:21). If justification by faith abolishes law, then the atoning death of Christ was not necessary to release the sinner from his sins, and thus grant him peace with the Savior (John 6:54).

Obedience is the acid test of Christianity

Sincere faith implies in itself clear willingness to do the will of God which is seen in an obedience to His law (Rom. 3:28). Jesus said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Mere profession is not enough. “Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matthew 7:19).

Righteousness by faith places God’s law in its proper place. The law convicts of sin (Romans 3:20) and shows the great standard of righteousness. Then, the law takes the sinner to Christ for cleansing (Galatians 3:24). Thus, faith produces the fruits of obedience to the law of God. This obedience springs from both trust (Romans 1:5; 16:26) and love (Romans 13:8, 10).

God gives Christians power to obey

The fact that Christ suffered because of man’s sin is one of the strongest motivations for obedience. People do not easily repeat an action that causes their friends trouble and pain. Similarly, Christians can only hate the sins that caused the suffering and death of Christ on the cross.  One of the chief glories of the plan of salvation is that while the plan makes possible the sinner’s justification through faith, it also provides powerful influences to produce in him a desire to obey (Philippians 4:13).

The final conflict on this earth will be over obedience to God’s. Satan’s last deception will claim that it is now no longer necessary to obey the law. But God’s true and faithful servants will show their faith by obedience. The apostle John wrote about the end time believers, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12 also 12:17).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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