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"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." Rom. 3:19.
Thus the law of God convicts all men of sin, and would drive every one to Christ for pardon and for the divine gift of the grace and power of obedience.
The ceremonial law the precepts and ordinances com manded for the sacrificial system-ceased with the sacrifice of Calvary, as all these ceremonial observances pointed forward to the cross. There can be no confounding of the moral law and the ceremonial law. The ceremonial law of types and shadows showed in itself that a primary or higher law — the moral law had been violated, making necessary a divine sacrifice if transgressors were to be saved from death and restored to obedience.
The Standard in the Judgment
The law of God's moral government, which is the rule of life for every creature, must necessarily be the standard in the great judgment day. The Scripture states the sum of all human obligation and responsibility in the words:
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Eccl. 12: 13, 14.
Every son and daughter of Adam's lost race is judgment bound, to answer before the bar of God the demands of the perfect law. Divine justice cannot abate one jot or tittle of the requirements of the holy law, nor by any means clear the guilty. But divine mercy has provided the way by which God can "be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
"How should man be just [righteous] with God?" asked the patriarch Job. It has been the vital question ever since Adam sinned, and lost his righteousness and forfeited his life. The answer of Scripture is:
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Rom. 5:1. "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest, any man should boast." Eph. 2:8, 9.
In the beginning, life and righteousness were the gift of God to man. Only the Creator could bestow the gift at the first; when lost, only creative power can restore it.
Man Cannot Justify Himself
The law of God declares all men sinners. Not only did Adam's posterity inherit of necessity a sinful nature, but every soul of man has wrought sin as the fruit of that nature.
"As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Rom. 5:12.
"There is no difference," Jew or Gentile, bond or free, they are in the same lost condition; "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Rom. 10:12; 3:23.
The sinner finds himself a transgressor, condemned to death by a holy law. He turns to it with the thought, "I will do what it says, and become righteous and win life." But he cannot undo the fact that he has sinned. A holy law can only cry, "Guilty! guilty!" to one who has transgressed it. The law declares righteousness; it cannot give it. As the Scripture says:
"We know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 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." Rom. 3: 19, 20.
The guilt exists. No deeds that man can do can undo it or cover it from a righteous law. Not only that, but as soon as the law declares what righteousness is, the sinner finds that its demands are altogether beyond the power of his flesh to meet. It calls for a kind of work that fallen human nature cannot so much as approach. Paul cried out, when struggling under conviction, "We know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin." Rom. 7: 14.
The carnal cannot bring forth the spiritual. But the law demands a spiritual work of righteousness. It is impossible for the carnal mind to undertake it. The Scripture says:
"The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is nct subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Rom. 8:7, 8.
He finds the
But the awakened sinner is yet in the flesh. law thundering his guilt and condemning him to death. He cannot wash away the past, nor hide it; he cannot obey God's
law with a carnal mind, and that is all the mind he has. He is lost, and helpless of himself, but longs for a way of escape. Paul's cry in the same position is the cry of the despairing heart that has not found the Saviour, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Rom. 7:24. Thank God, there is an answer to that cry, for every sinner.
"Plunged in a gulf of dark despair,
We wretched sinners lay,
Without one cheering beam of hope,
"With pitying eyes the Prince of grace
He saw, and, O amazing love!
The Free Gift of Christ
Following that despairing cry of human helplessness, "Who shall deliver me?" there came the believer's shout of praise, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." He is the deliverer; for He "gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us." Rom. 7:25; Gal. 1:4.
The way of escape and salvation is the gift of God's love. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
No sinner has need to plead that God may be willing to forgive him; the Lord's infinite love that gave His Son to die, is pleading with the sinner to believe and accept salvation.
In order to be the sinner's Saviour, the divine Son of God must take man's place before the broken law. He came in human flesh, with all its weakness. "I can of Mine own self," He said, "do nothing." He trusted the Father, and lived a life of perfect righteousness in human flesh. He who knew no sin, bore man's sin in His body on the cross. "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." For man's