December 27, 2010

Thoughts On The Law

"Zeal for the law can altogether alienate man from God, and has precisely the effect of making him a sinner. This occurs when faith is no longer the point of departure for the fulfilling of the law, but man addresses himself to what he takes for the work of the law. For the law then becomes detached from God, in the sense that man no longer trusts in God for his righteousness but in his works. And man in this way no longer arrives at the law, that is to say, no longer at the righteousness and at the life to which the law points him.

The apostle is therefore able to demonstrate the impossibility of acquiring righteousness and life in the way of works at one time to those who praise the law with their mouth but in reality grossly transgress it (Rom. 2:17ff), at another to those who with all their zeal and irreproachableness likewise do not find what they are seeking (Rom. 9; Phil. 3). In both cases man with the law in hand is faced with his bankruptcy. And surely the second is less evident and easy to accept. But it is not on that account any less real, indeed it is in a certain sense still more drastic because it strikes man in his moral earnestness and exertion; because it not only confronts him with his deficiency, but also casts his 'gain' into the balance and compels him not only to acknowledge his sin, but also to renounce his very virtues before God."

-Herman Ridderbos, 'Paul: An Outline of His Theology'

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