Wednesday: The Impotent Law

Though in one sense, as we saw, the law empowers sin, in another real way the law is terribly impotent. How can the same object be both powerful and impotent at the same time?

Image © Standard Publishing from

Image © Standard Publishing from

Here again, the difference lies not in the law but in the person. For the one who discovers that he is a sinner, the law forces him to acknowledge that he is going against God’s will and is consequently on a path to death. Upon discovering his sinfulness, the sinner may decide to follow the law to the letter. However, the fact that he has already sinned has made him a candidate for death.

Read Acts 13:38-39, Romans 8:3, and Galatians 3:21. What do they tell us about the law and salvation?

Some people believe that strict adherence to the law will grant salvation, but this is not a biblical teaching. The law defines sin (Rom. 7:7); it does not forgive it (Gal. 2:21). Hence, Paul remarks that the same law that empowers sin is also weak (Rom. 8:3). It is able to convict the sinner of sins but cannot make the sinner righteous. A mirror can show us our faults; it just can’t fix them. As Ellen G. White wrote: The law cannot save those whom it condemns; it cannot rescue the perishing.-The Signs of the Times, November 10, 1890.

When we fully consider the purpose of the law, it is easier to understand why Jesus became the atoning sacrifice for the human race. The death of Jesus placed formerly sinful human beings in a right relationship with God and with His holy and righteous and good law (Rom. 7:12, NASB). At the same time, too, His death showed us the futility of salvation by keeping the law. After all, if obedience to the law could save us, Jesus would not have had to die in our place. The fact that He did reveals that obedience to the law could not save us. We needed something much more drastic.

Though we are promised again and again the power to obey God’s law, why is this obedience not enough to secure our salvation? In one sense the answer shouldn’t be that difficult. Look at yourself and your law-keeping. If your salvation depended upon your obedience, how much hope would you have?



Wednesday: The Impotent Law — 13 Comments

  1. I think I understand. It's like going in a store. The store has rules (God's Law) for customers to follow (don't touch certain merchandise, ask for help for reaching items high up on shelves, supervise your children, etc.). However, even if you adhere to all the rules of the store, it will not cover the cost of purchasing one of its items. So even when I keep all of God's Law, it doesn't pay for my sins. It's Christ's blood that covers the cost of our sins.

    • Lovely said, if you love someone and the have laws e.g growing up in our parents home. Every home has a law that govern the home, but because we love our homes and parents we forget that the home exist with a law. We do what is asked and what we know to be right. But as we become older, the same law that existed which seems to be impotent revived itself and our parents enforced the time we should return home at night. In each case we are not obeying the law but we are obeying our parents who we love. Here we see our parent laws are a transcript of what the believe. The law is a transcript of God, he gave us power to obey them but by obeying them, the cannot save us. It is the blood of Jesus who cleanses us from out sins and saves us.

    • I totally agree with you. there most be Law to guide us, to direct us,
      More so the law that help us to define Sin can't fixed us up! because the law is excellent when it comes to information at the same time become impotent when it come to transformation. and that is why Paul said Who can separate us from the body of Christ Jesus.i so much love the lesson that tell us how important the Law is.
      We can not do without the Law,Remember the wages of sin is death.

      May God help us.

    • Interesting analogy Sis Jeanne. However, it does not show where one has violated the store's rules, and then try to keep the rules after to pay for the damage. For example: If the parent failed to supervise the child and the child touches an item and brakes it; keeping the store rules perfectly thereafter cannot pay for the violation ( broken item). It would take cash (blood) to reconcile the situation and put the parent back in good relationship with the store's owner/manager.

      Yours in Christ,


  2. I think, even to obey the law is costly; it requires Christ's crucifixation resurection and Holy Spirit.

  3. Our old self cannot simply die, a cost must be incurred, that is the blood of Jesus Christ for us to be able to obey to the Law.

  4. After all my years of keeping the law, finally today's lesson explain the real purpose of the Law. The law defines sin. The law cannot provide salvation only Jesus. The law cannot forgive sin only Jesus. The law cannot make us righteous or rescue the perishing only Jesus can. As we live by the law to keep us from sinning, Jesus' grace will sustain us.

  5. Today's reading is an eye opener. The law defines sin it doesn't pay for our sin. i guess that's where the plan of salvation come in, after the law defines to us the sin we have committed it is then our responsibility to look to the redeemer as his blood has already paid the cost even before we transgressed the law...... Some may say it is already paid for so why acknowledge it to the redeemer, it is through acknowledgment that we are brought to the place where God wants us to be - showing full obedience and respect to the price he did not have to pay but he did because he loves us.

    • The law reveals and explains what sin is. When we understand the law , the holiness, and love of God, we then acknowledge the sin being aware that redeemer all we need to do is surrender and repent asking for the Holy Spirit through which we can seek holiness in Christ. I believe Jesus died and rose again to give all of us a rightful redeemtion through complete repentance of our sins as the law reveals. Only the blood of a sinless being can save us from death as the wages of sin. Therefore, it is very important we Christian acknowledge and in humble obedience accept this free gift of Jesus.

  6. From what we have studied so far this quarter, the law is the law of love. Therefore sin being the opposite must be not loving. The law highlights just how far we fall short of God's requirement to love. But it can't teach us how to love. Only God can do that.

  7. It is absolutely that the law by itself cannot make a person to be counted a righteousness and geting salvation,but the laws were just put to show someone whether is going with the will of God.laws only help someone to acknowledge himself/herself that is a sinner but cannot make him/her rightousness unless he/she makes a commitment of himself to change his ways.

  8. the lesson is a true revalation of God's love and His master plan to serve man from the shackles of sin. Giving us an understanding of sin,the law play a vital role in one's salvation. For without it(law),we would be blank about sin.


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