It is of little value to be brought to Christ if one does not understand their need of Christ. Thus the law is introduced to make us aware of our need.
Romans 3:19,20 - 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. 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.
Herein the function of the law is clearly set forth. It is to stop every mouth. It is to see that the entire world becomes guilty before God. The law is designed to deprive us of any sense of self-sufficiency that we may have. The law hinders man’s ability to claim innocence before God. While men may fail to condemn us the law is a more unforgiving standard. The law was not given that we might be justified thereby. When God gave the law he knew full well that men would not be able to achieve the standard set forth. It was given to convince them of guilt not to imply that they could in some way attain to the righteousness contained therein. Those who set their hearts to keep the law for righteousness will find themselves in one of two conditions. Explaining away the law, thereby admitting their guilt, and/or live in perpetual frustration of their inability. The law was not given to prove how righteous sinners could be but rather that we might have the knowledge of sin. It is not important where we have kept the law, what is important and needs to be addressed is where we have broken the law. Sin is very simply defined in the Scripture as a transgressing of the law.
1 John 3:4 - Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
God sets the standard and where we transgress the standard we have sinned. When we have sinned we are guilty. When we recognize our guiltiness our mouths are stopped and we are ready to be brought to Christ. No amount of righteous living can compensate for where we have transgressed. That is tantamount to saying that you killing a man will not be considered because you have not committed adultery. Or your having committed adultery will not be considered because you have not killed a man. The keeping of one law does not negate the breaking of another.
James 2:10,11 - For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
It is not enough to be able to claim that you did not commit any particular sin you must be able to say you have not committed any sin. Unless this can be substantiated then you are guilty and your mouth must be stopped and you are now ready to be brought to Christ.
In fact we are taught that the law was given not only to provide the knowledge of sin because there is a sense in which all men have the knowledge of sin.
Romans 2:14 - For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
All men have a sense of right and wrong. We call it conscience. The law was given to heighten and reinforce what our consciences knew to be true.
Romans 5:20 - Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
God wanted to make sure that we saw sin as being against him and in seeing it that way the offense might abound in our understanding. It is important to realize that sin is against God. We do not all determine for ourselves what sin is God has determined that. When we see that our sin is not just against our fellow man or ourselves but against God then the offense will abound in our judgment.
It is the presence of law that is designed to ensure that we see our sin as a transgression. For there can be no transgression where there is no standard to transgress.
Romans 4:15 - Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
The function of the law is to reveal our sin against God, our transgression against his divine standard. One of the weaknesses of modern evangelistic preaching is the absence of the law. The preaching of the law is important so people can determine where they are at before God and ultimately be brought to Christ. Without the law there is no compelling need to go to Christ. Again Paul presents the laws function in unmistakable language.
Romans 7:13 - Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Having just stated in verse twelve that the law is “holy, and just, and good” he proceeds to relate the effect of the law in his own heart. He makes it clear that the law was not made death to him. It was not the law that occasions the death of the individual but the transgression of the individual. Paul again reiterates that the law revealed sin in such a way that it might appear sin. The commandment was provided so that sin might become exceeding sinful. This is exactly what people need to see today the exceeding sinfulness of sin.
In conclusion the function of the law is to reveal sin. The purpose of the law is to point to Christ. The law, in serving its function and achieving its purpose becomes our schoolmaster. Serving as our schoolmaster the law seeks to ensure that we are justified by faith. As our schoolmaster the law’s lessons are very simple. We are sinners, transgressors of the law of God. Christ is both priest and sacrifice. Our sin problem is remedied through the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ. If we believe it we are justified.
This is the continuation of several posts I have made over the last few months. They are as follows: