Can anyone keep the law of God perfectly?
Since the fall, no mere human has been able to keep the law of God perfectly, but consistently breaks it in thought, word, and deed.
Proof Text: Romans 3:10–12
None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
Holy God, left to our own devices, we transgress your law at every turn. We have no defense, but must plead guilty before your throne of judgment. Your law condemns us and cuts through our pretensions to righteousness, convincing us that we desperately need a Savior. Amen.
God created us to love, enjoy, glorify, and obey him, and in so doing, flourish as human beings. Why then do we struggle so much to do that? Like an incredibly sophisticated piece of machinery that’s broken, we don’t operate the way we were designed to because of the fall. What’s the fall? God created humans with the capacity to keep his law perfectly, but that was lost when the first human and representative of the human race, Adam, chose to rebel and disobey God. He fell into a condition of sin and dragged all of us with him. The Bible describes that condition in a variety of ways—spiritual rebellion, blindness, illness, bondage, and death.
How does it affect us today? As a result of the fall we’re not just spiritually impaired but incapacitated. We’re not just weak; we have no innate power to obey God’s law and glorify him. We’re estranged from our Creator, from one another, and from the rest of creation. In this spiritually disabled condition, we’re unable to obey God’s law not only in our actions and words, but even in our thoughts, attitudes, and motivations. As the prophet Jeremiah put it, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (17:19). And so we stand alienated and guilty before the holy God of heaven and earth.
That’s very discouraging, of course, to contemplate, but it’s not the end of the story; it’s just the beginning. It’s the bad news that stands as the backdrop for the spectacularly good news of the gospel, which brings life and hope. Though we’re unable to keep the law of God perfectly, there is One who kept the law perfectly for us. Jesus faithfully obeyed his Father, even to the point of death on the cross, so that we who trust alone in him might no longer live under the guilt, power, and bondage of sin but be set free. Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). And though we fell in Adam, we have been raised with Christ. We’re confident that the God who raised Jesus from the dead is lovingly at work in us and won’t let us go until the day when he will bring us into his everlasting presence in glory where we will no longer struggle. There we will finally, fully, and freely obey the One who made us and redeemed us.
Historical Commentary by
Who is John Owen?
As a traveler, in his way meeting with a violent storm of thunder and rain, immediately turns out of his way to some house or tree for his shelter; but yet this causeth him not to give over his journey; so soon as the storm is over he returns to his way and progress again. So it is with men in bondage to sin: the law meets with them in a storm of thunder and lightning from heaven, terrifies and hinders them in their way; this turns them for a season out of their course; they will run to prayer or amendment of life, for some shelter from the storm of wrath which is feared coming upon their consciences. But is their course stopped? Are their principles altered? Not at all; so soon as the storm is over . . . they return to their former course, in the service of sin again.
Never let us reckon that our work in contending against sin, in crucifying, mortifying, and subduing of it, is at an end. The place of its habitation is unsearchable; and when we may think that we have thoroughly won the field, there is still some reserve remaining that we saw not, that we knew not of. Many conquerors have been ruined by their carelessness after a victory; and many have been spiritually wounded after great successes against this enemy. . . . There is no way for us to pursue sin in its unsearchable habitation but by being endless in our pursuit.
Can anyone keep the law of God perfectly?
Since the fall, no human has been able to keep the law of God perfectly.
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