The following story illustrates our difficulty in keeping the law!
Robert Cialdini, a researcher and an expert on the theory of persuasion, conducted an experiment at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. The park had a problem, as it made clear on a warning sign:
YOUR HERITAGE IS BEING VANDALIZED EVERY DAY BY THEFT LOSSES OF PETRIFIED WOOD OF 14 TONS A YEAR, MOSTLY A SMALL PIECE AT A TIME.The sign plainly appealed to the visitors’ sense of moral outrage. Cialdini wanted to know if this appeal was effective. So he and some colleagues ran an experiment. They seeded various trails throughout the forest with loose pieces of petrified wood, ready for the stealing. On some trails, they posted a sign warning not to steal; other trails got no sign. The result? The trails with the warning sign had nearly three times more theft than the trails with no signs. How could this be? Cialdini concluded that the park’s warning sign, designed to send a moral message, perhaps sent a different message as well. Something like: Wow, the petrified wood is going fast—I’d better get mine now! Or: Fourteen tons a year!? Surely it won’t matter if I take a few pieces.
Thank goodness that our ability to follow the law isn’t how God will judge us for eternity, that is, unless you are not a believer…then you will be.
The Law can’t save us– In Romans 7:1-25, Paul shows that the law is powerless to save the sinner (vs. 7-14), the law keeper (vs. 15-22), and even the person with a new nature (vs. 23-25). The sinner is condemned by the law, the law keeper can’t live up to it; and the person with the new nature finds his or her obedience to the law sabotaged by the effects of the old nature. Once again, Paul declares that salvation cannot be found by obeying the law. No matter who we are, only Jesus Christ can set us free. Israel (the Jews) pursued a relationship with God on the basis of following the law, not by faith, as if it were by good works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone”. The “stumbling stone” was Jesus. This was prophesized in Isaiah 28:16. See Romans 9:30-33
We are justified by faith in Jesus, not law– Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ…..no one! See Galatians 2:16. Romans 4:25; 5:18 helps to explain what justification is. It is God’s act of declaring us “not guilty” for all of our sins. Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
If you stumble in one, you break the whole law– see James 2:8-11 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he (Jesus) who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. See 1 John 3:4-6 Everyone who sins breaks the law.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law–Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not cancel it! His was not a new system but a culmination of the old. See Luke 16:16-17. For what the law was powerless to do (save us eternally), God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Holy Spirit. –Romans 8:3
This final verse below differentiates all other religions from Christianity. An attitude of good works of following the law doesn’t cut it! Please take this to heart.
Jesus Christ died for nothing if you can earn your way to heaven by keeping the law– In Galatians 2:21 Paul did not “set aside” the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
Galatians 3:24 is one of my favorite verse in the book of Galatians. “So the law is there to point us (it’s our schoolmaster) to Christ, that we might be justified by faith!” In other words, the law teaches us our need for salvation, and it should make us “poor in spirit,” which is one of the beatitudes that Jesus taught.