19 May, 2019

Romans 2:13—“… the doers of the law shall be justified …”

For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (Rom. 2:13).

Appeal has been made to this passage (and others similar to it), which speaks of the keeping of the law as a way of life, in order to prove common grace.

Usually, the statement in the text itself (“the doers of the law shall be justified”) is quoted as proof that it is possible for the unregenerated to keep the law.

Actually, it is obvious that this text simply refers to the principle of the law that requires the keeping of the law for life. But the point is that no man can keep the law, and that, therefore, salvation is not to be found in the keeping of the law.


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[Source: Common Grace Considered [2019 edition], pp. 270-271, 272-273]

[This text teaches] quite the opposite from what was the intention of the authors of “the good that sinners do by the grace of God.” For [this text teaches] that the fundamental principle for all time and for eternity is that fellowship with God is inescapably connected to the keeping of God’s law. But as the [passage] in [its] context [goes] on to say, just because this principle is so true, no man can possibly be saved by the keeping of the law, because it is impossible for depraved man to keep it.
The [text], however, [teaches] a profound truth: The keeping of the law is necessary for anyone to be saved. This is a truth that dates back to the beginning of time. Adam remained in a state of rectitude only as long as he obeyed the law. It is true for all time and in every place: man only lives through the keeping of the law. This is Paul’s point.
But Adam fell, and all men with (and in) him. The keeping of the law was now forever impossible for man. For, while it is possible for sinful and totally depraved man to conform his life outwardly to the law, the law requires love within: love of God and one’s neighbor. Sin is the opposite. Sin is love for one’s self. And so Christ had to come to do what man, of himself, can never do. That is why Paul calls the law a “schoolmaster” to lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:24). Christ kept the law. He loved His God perfectly—even when the horrors of hell drowned Him in sorrow and pain and all He knew was abandonment by Him whom alone He loved. By His perfect atonement, Christ fulfilled the law for those for whom He died; and now, by His Spirit, He enables His people to keep the law—for the law is written on their hearts. And so, still today, the way to life is the keeping of the law, but it is the keeping of the law by Him who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).


God has tied, in an unbreakable bond, the keeping of His law with salvation. [Note: This is not the same as saying] that our ability to keep the law is tied to salvation. But God is Creator and we are creatures. God’s law, given for every creature, defines how that creature is to serve Him: The bird by living in the air, the fish by living in the water, the tree by being planted in the ground and reaching out to the sun; man by loving the Lord his God. To break that law means death.
We cannot keep that law of God in any respect, but Christ kept it for us. While He suffered the pains and anguish of hell for His people, He still kept the law perfectly. He loved His God, though His God had forsaken Him. By doing this, He fulfilled the law for His people so that the law is written on their hearts (Heb. 8:10). With the law written in their hearts, God’s people are given the spiritual power to keep that law and love the Lord their God. Salvation includes the grace necessary to keep that law as the rule of gratitude. God takes His people to heaven in the way of keeping His law, a way that is possible by the wonderful work of Christ who enables us by His Spirit to be obedient to God.
That is the meaning of [this text].



More to come! (DV)

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