Living By The Law Promotes Sin (Problem 8 of 8)

"But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment (i.e. law), produced in me all kinds of covetousness."   The Apostle Paul, 55 A.D.
            When we live by the Law we actually makes things worse!  The Law inescapably promotes sin in several ways when it is not properly taught and when it is lifted up as a means and source of power to live out our Christian life.  There are 7 examples below. 
            The first is that the Law makes demands upon mankind that mankind cannot simply accomplish (Romans 3:10-12).  As a result C.F.W. Walther states, “this causes man to regard God as cruel in demanding what man cannot accomplish.[1]
            The second, according to Walther, is that when the Law is presented it “rouses our desire and a rebellious thought like this in us: ‘What? Is this to be denied of us?’  The fall of Adam proves this:  The devil had quickly turned him to his side when he said: ‘Has God really said that you shall not eat of every tree in the garden?’  That brought the fall of our first parents.  For without the Law sin was dead.[2](See Genesis 3:1-ff; Romans 7:7-ff)
            The third is that when the Law is not properly taught it leads to pride and deception.  When the Law is taught as a command to change the sinful heart, an action that it cannot do, it actually deceives us to think that we are capable of changing our own heart by the Law and thus we have works righteousness and pride. (See Mark 10:17-22)
            The fourth is that Living by the Law produces Hypocrisy.  Because the Law can only curb and regulate external actions to a certain extent but cannot change the internal heart it actually promotes hypocrisy. (See Problem #2: The Law Cannot Truly Change Behavior)  Living by the Law actually produces an inconsistency between the outside actions and the true motive of the heart. (See Matthew 23:25-28)
            Fifth… when we live by the Law we end up having to water down the Law.  According to Forde, because the Law is unattainable for us as humans we, “water down the law in some way to make it less demanding.[3]We emphasize parts of the Law that we are not struggling with while we deemphasize the other parts of the Law that we are struggling with and cannot achieve.  We pick, boast and highlight the things that we are achieving in the Law while conveniently downplaying the parts that we fail in.  This is called Legalism. (See Matthew 23:23-24 & Mark 7:9)
            The sixth is that Living by the Law creates two false classes of people; sinners and righteous people.  While it is true that scripture speaks of people who are lost and people who are found it is important to note the truth of Romans 3:10-12 that states, “No one is righteous, not even one.”  This world has only known of: sinners and one righteous savior, Jesus Christ.  In John 8:1-11 “Jesus, in a brilliant stroke replaces the two assumed categories ‘righteous and guilty’ with two different categories: ‘sinners who admit and sinners who deny…[4] In summary, Living by the Law produces two false categories (i.e. good people and bad people) which ultimately negates Romans 3:10-12.[5]
            Finally, when we live by the Law we nullify God’s grace and make a mockery out of the cross.  It is as if we are saying that Christ died for no purpose.  Living by the Law, according to Luther, “corrupts and diminishes the glory of God’s Grace.[6]”  (Galatians 2:21)

Note: Tomorrow we will conclude this series with the main purpose of the Law and show why the Law is Good!  

[1] C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel (Concordia Publishing, 1897), 383.
[2] Ibid, 383.
[3] Gerhard Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross (Eerdmans, 1997), 96.
[4] Quote Unknown to Author of this Paper
[5] Living By the Gospel produces two new categories:  Cleansed and Redeemed Sinners who admit guilt and Sinners who don’t admit guilt.
[6] Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian: Luther Study Edition (Fortress Press, 2008), 77.