All at once, the law shows us God’s holiness and our own sin. And it doesn’t just reveal sin, it stirs it up.
Now, let’s be clear, the law doesn’t cause sin. Sin is already there. At best, its buried in a shallow grave where it can easily claw its way out. But the law brings to the surface what we find hard to see. It shows what a Holy God requires. And it shows me that I’m really bad at it.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. Romans 3:20
But the law not only reveals sin, it stirs it up in us, too. The law actually antagonizes the sin. It aggravates it. Draws it out of us like an Epsom salt bath.
The law is holy and just, but sin works its way in when we hear it. It actually makes us want to sin. Think about it. What happens when someone tells you that you can’t so something? Naturally, you want to run right out and do it. Try telling a toddler (or teen) what they can’t do and see what happens. Then look in the mirror. Because every human is hard wired with authority issues.
The law tells us what to do- our hearts rebel at the thought of someone in authority over us, who knows better than we do what’s best for us- and sin has its way.
The answer- adjust your focus.
Focus on the law alone and you’ll fail. And even if you are a little successful, the tiniest voice will still whisper, “good job.” That’s works righteousness, i.e. sin.
So apart from Christ, any good work starts us down the road to earning it. And that doubles down on our sin. For then, even when we do good, we are doing bad.
Law out of focus is law done out of the sight of Christ.
You can only properly approach the law through Christ, in whom we can and want to do all things as we remember what he has done for us.
You can never do law out of view of Christ. You must always hold the law in one hand and Christ in the other.