by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 10 July 4, 2006 Lincolnton, NC
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
1901 ASV Translation:
20 And the law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly:
21 that, as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I. God's "Addition" of the Law.
A. Theologically, the Law came four hundred and thirty years after God made His covenant with Abraham (Galatians 3:16-17), which was the foundation for the "covenants of the Promise" (Ephesians 2:12).
1. Paul argues in Galatians 3:16 that this "addition" of the Law could not "disannul" the covenant of the Promise.
2. Paul argued in Romans 4:13-16 that the prior covenant of Promise was absolutely necessary because "the Law worketh wrath" (not blessedness), which would mean that no one would be an "heir of the world" (Romans 4:13). He concluded in 4:16 that the inheritance had to be byfaith so that it could be bygrace so that the promise could be sure. A promise that is not sure is a lie.
B. So, the automatic question is this: why did God "add" the Law?
1. In the Galatians text (Galatians 3:19) Paul actually asked this very question. He answered by saying that it was "added because of transgressions". But, he does not say what "because of transgressions" means except by telling us that the Scripture puts everyone "under sin" (Galatians 3:22) and that "the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24). The conclusion we draw is that, as long as there was no "Law", there was no accounting of sins (Romans 4:15), and, as long as there is no accounting of sins there can be no "repentance" so that the Law's purpose was to both identify what was "sinful" and to make sure that all of the children of Adam knew beyond a doubt that they were exceedingly "guilty" (Romans 3:19). This is the only way that we could be "brought to Christ" as seekers of forgiveness and redemption.
2. In this text, Paul claims that He did it so that "the offence might abound".
a. There are two parts to this claim. On the one hand, the "offence abounds" in that every action that is "offensive to righteousness" is identified by the Law. In this sense, Law is merely an "Identifier" of what the true nature is of that which is alreadygoingon. But, on the other hand, the "offence abounds" in that the very presence of "Law" instigates a strong sense of rebellion, and, thus, actually ignites activities that are "offensive to righteousness" (Romans 7:7-11).
b. Why would God wish to actually ignite sinful activities?
1) Everyone who has ever used a cattle-prod knows that if we jab a cow with the electrical prod, the cow is going to kick. This is a reaction that is as automatic as can be conceived. This is the same thing that the Law does: it creates an instantaneous and deliberate "kick" against the One Who lays down the Law.
2) So, why does God wish to "make us kick"? It is not to "make us sin"; it is, rather, to showus that we are "sinners" by our very nature. Unless we learn that our every thought and action as "sinners" is "sinful", we will never humble ourselves to come to Christ for forgiveness and regeneration. The purpose of the Law is to reveal the true nature of righteousness to sinners so that they may become "exceedingly sinful" in their own eyes so that they might be motivated to seek God (Romans 7:13) in true humility (Luke 18:13).
3. Thus, what we have is this scenario: God made "justification" a matter of "Promise" (Genesis 15:6). But, man was not sufficiently motivated by "Promise" to come to God in faith (witness the degeneration of godliness in Abraham's downline offspring as recorded in Genesis). So, there needed to be an "addition" inserted into the reality of man spurning Promise that would stir him up to return to the God of Promise. This "addition" was the "Law".