Paul, it has been said, was the true founder of Christianity. That is wrong, of course. Though Paul contributed much to our theological understanding of Christian doctrine, including 13 of the 27 New Testament books, practically all the teachings in his writings can be found elsewhere in Scripture. The main reason why some claim that Paul started a
new religion is the misconception over his teaching about law and grace.
Read in isolation, these texts definitely give the impression that the law is no longer relevant for the Christian. However, all these verses belong to a broader context that we must see in order to understand what Paul is truly saying.
Examine the passages in which each of the above texts occurs, paying special attention to Romans 3:31, Rom 6:15, Rom 7:7-12, and Galatians 3:21. How do these verses, as well as the context as a whole, help us to better understand Paul’s point about the law?
For those who don’t understand the concept of justification by faith, Paul may seem to be contradicting himself. In the same breath he claims that the Christian is not under the law; yet, the same Christian is obligated to keep the law. The problem is solved when we remember that God demands righteousness from those who claim to be in relationship with Him. The standard of righteousness is His law. However, when people measure up against His law, they fall short and are therefore condemned by the law. If the law were the means to salvation, then none would have any hope of eternal life. The hope of the Christian is not found in the law but in Jesus Christ, who not only kept the law perfectly but through God’s miraculous power allows believers to share in His righteousness (Rom. 8:3-4). The Christian can now serve the law of God with a free conscience because Christ has taken away the law’s condemnation (Rom. 7:25-8:2). The grace that comes through Christ does not release us from the law but rather compels us to obey it.