Living By The Law Cannot Truly Change Behavior (Problem 2 of 8)

            A person can externally exert all sorts of energy in order to rid himself of all of his immoral vices.  He can polish himself up through effective alcoholic treatments from the doom of alcoholism.  He can use effective accountability groups and internet filters to cut out the seduction of pornography.  He can curb the sourness of his cursing tongue and the entrapment of gossip through carefully monitored speech.  A person can externally rid himself of all of these moral deficiencies and still be eternally lost and damned.  The Law clearly limits sin through its threats of chastisements and its promises of favor and well being.  The Law can be used to regulate society, prevent us from doing some really stupid things to ourselves and other people.  The Law can make things bearable in a sinful world.  The Law can curb external sinful behavior for believers and nonbelievers but it is totally incapable and powerless in changing the attitude and behavior of the internal heart, let alone saving a person.  Horton states,
“The Law cannot turn sinners to faith and produce proper behavior performed simply for the sake of God.[1]”  “We naturally think that if you want people to do the right thing, you just need to tell them what to do and exhort them to do it with sufficient passion and effective methods.  The only problem is that the law commands, but it does not give us any power to fulfill its conditions.  On its own, more advice (law, commands, exhortations) will only lead us to self-righteousness or despair.[2]” 

(See Romans 3:20, 8:3; Galatians 2:21)

[1] Robert Kolb, The Christian Faith (Concordia Publishing, 1993), 110.
[2] Michael Horton, Christless Christianity (Baker Books, 2008), 123.