on Romans 3 :31
Do we then make void the law through faith? -
1. By law here we may understand the whole of the Mosaic law, in its rites and ceremonies; of which Jesus Christ was the subject and the end. All that law had respect to him; and the doctrine of faith in Christ Jesus, which the Christian religion proclaimed, established the very claims and demands of that law, by showing that all was accomplished in the passion and death of Christ, for, without shedding of blood, the law would allow of no remission; and Jesus was that Lamb of God which was slain from the foundation of the world, in whose blood we have redemption, even the remission of sins.
2. We may understand, also, the moral law, that which relates to the regulation of the manners or conduct of men. This law also was established by the doctrine of salvation by faith; because this faith works by love, and love is the principle of obedience: and whosoever receives salvation through faith in Christ, receives power to live in holy obedience to every moral precept; for such are God's workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus, unto good works; in which they find it their duty and their interest incessantly to live.
1. In the notes on the preceding chapter, I have, in general, followed the plan of Dr. Taylor, and especially in regard to its dialogue form, but I have often differed much from that very learned and judicious man, in the application of many words and doctrines. He cannot allow that the death of Christ should be considered as a price paid down for the salvation of men and, I confess, I cannot understand the apostle in any other way. Nor can I see the weight of many of his observations, nor the force of his conclusions, on any other ground than this, that the passion and death of Christ were an atonement made to Divine justice in the behalf of man; and that it is through the merit of that great sacrifice that God forgives sin. Nor can I see any reason why such great stress should be laid on faith, but as that lays hold on and takes up the sacrifice of Christ as a ransom price for the redemption of the soul from the thraldom and misery of sin and Satan.
2. This chapter contains a fine and striking synopsis of the whole Christian system. The wretched state of man is awfully exhibited, from the 10th to the 18th verse; and the plan of salvation, in the 24th, 25th, and 26th verses. A pious writer calls these the Catechism of Christian Righteousness. The following points in this catechism are worthy of high consideration - viz. How is God glorified in us, and we in him? - By his Grace. What does his grace work in us? - True holiness. Upon what motive? - Because it is pleasing to him. By whom does he give us salvation? - By Jesus Christ. How has Christ obtained this for us? - By redeeming us. What price did he give? - His Blood. What does his blood effect? - It reconciles us to God. How is it applied? - By Faith. Who has given this victim of reconciliation? - God the Father. Why did he choose these means? - To confound the false righteousness of the Gentiles; to abolish the Figurative righteousness of the Jews; and to establish his own. What does this grace of God perform? - It pardons sin and purifies the heart. For whom is this designed? - For all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles. To whom are these blessings actually communicated? - To all who repent, turn from their sin, and believe on the Lord Jesus. Why did not God make known this grand method of salvation sooner?
1. To make it the more valued:
2. To show his fidelity in the performance of his promises: and,
3. To make known the virtue and efficacy of the blood of Christ, which sanctifies the present, extends its influence to the past, and continues the availing sacrifice and way of salvation to all future ages.
3. On considering this glorious scheme of salvation, there is great danger, lest, while we stand amazed at what was done For us, we neglect what must be done In us. Guilt in the conscience and sin in the heart ruin the man. Pardon in the conscience and Christ in the heart save the soul. Christ has done much to save us, and the way of salvation is made plain; but, unless he justify our conscience from dead works, and purify our hearts from all sin, his passion and death will profit us nothing. While we boast in Christ Jesus, let us see that our rejoicing, καυχησις, our boasting, be this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have our conversation in the world, 2 Corinthians 1:12.
4. We must beware of Antinomianism; that is, of supposing that, because Christ has been obedient unto death, there is no necessity for our obedience to his righteous commandments. If this were so, the grace of Christ would tend to the destruction of the law, and not to its establishment. He only is saved from his sins who has the law of God written in his heart; and he alone has the law written in his heart who lives an innocent, holy, and useful life. Wherever Christ lives he works: and his work of righteousness will appear to his servants, and its effect will be quietness and assurance for ever. The life of God in the soul of man is the principle which saves and preserves eternally.
on Romans 3 :31
Do we then make void the law - Do we render it vain and useless; do we destroy its moral obligation; and do we prevent obedience to it, by the doctrine of justification by faith? This was an objection which would naturally be made; and which has thousands of times been since made, that the doctrine of justification by faith tends to licentiousness. The word "law" here, I understand as referring to the moral law, and not merely to the Old Testament. This is evident from Romans 3:20-21, where the apostle shows that no man could be justified by deeds of law, by conformity with the moral law. See the note.
God forbid - By no means. Note, Romans 3:4. This is an explicit denial of any such tendency.
Yea, we establish the law - That is, by the doctrine of justification by faith; by this scheme of treating people as righteous, the moral law is confirmed, its obligation is enforced, obedience to it is secured. This is done in the following manner:
(1) God showed respect to it, in being unwilling to pardon sinners without an atonement. He showed that it could not be violated with impunity; that he was resolved to fulfil its threatenings.
(2) Jesus Christ came to magnify it, and to make it honorable. He showed respect to it in his life; and he died to show that God was determined to inflict its penalty.
(3) the plan of justification by faith leads to an observance of the Law. The sinner sees the evil of transgression. He sees the respect which God has shown to the Law. He gives his heart to God, and yields himself to obey his Law. All the sentiments that arise from the conviction of sin; that flow from gratitude for mercies; that spring from love to God; all his views of the sacredness of the Law, prompt him to yield obedience to it. The fact that Christ endured such sufferings to show the evil of violating the Law, is one of the strongest motives prompting to obedience. We do not easily and readily repeat what overwhelms our best friends in calamity; and we are brought to hate what inflicted such woes on the Saviour's soul. The sentiment recorded by Watts is as true as it is beautiful:
"'Twas for my sins my dearest Lord.
Hung on the cursed tree.
And groan'd away his dying life,
For thee, my soul, for thee.
"O how I hate those lusts of mine.
That crucified my Lord;
Those sins that pierc'd and nail'd his flesh.
Fast to the fatal wood.
on Romans 3 :31
3:31 We establish the law - Both the authority, purity, and the end of it; by defending that which the law attests; by pointing out Christ, the end of it; and by showing how it may be fulfilled in its purity.