Now why was it that only the Jews had the written law? Did the giving of the law to them indicate partiality on the part of God? Not by any means: “For there is no respect of persons with God.”
In the first two chapters of Romans, the apostle brings out the fact which is plainly stated in the third, that “both Jews and Gentiles” are “under sin,” and that “there is none righteous, no, not one.” In the passage under consideration, he states that, as a consequence, all who do not repent shall suffer “the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds.” This will be done without regard to nationality; “for there is no respect of persons with God;” that is, it is not a man’s birth, but his character, that gives him favor with God.
“The law of the Lord is perfect.” Psalm 19:7. Since it is perfect, nothing can be added to it or taken from it without making it imperfect. If, then, any creatures should be governed by more or less than this law, an imperfect law would govern them. But that, of course, would result in imperfect characters, and would further show the lawgiver to be imperfect; therefore such an idea cannot be entertained.
We have already anticipated this division of the subject, and have shown, by the extent of the gospel commission, that the law of God has been known and transgressed by men in every part of the world; that as the gospel is to be preached in all the world until the coming of Christ, sin will exist just as extensively and just as long; and that, consequently, the law, of which sin is the transgression, will be binding in all the world till the end of time.
The people who know righteousness are they in whose hearts God’s law is enshrined; they know righteousness, because the law is itself righteousness (Psalm 119:172); and not only is it righteousness in the abstract, but it is the righteousness of God. This is an expression, which the apostle Paul often uses in referring to the law.
In Nehemiah 9:13 we find the following words in the Levites’ confession to God: “You came down also on Mount Sinai; and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them right judgments and true laws, good statutes and commandments.” Here we have reference made to true laws and good statutes. A good and true law would in every case condemn sin; therefore the law here referred to is of the same character as that which, being transgressed makes it necessary for the gospel to be preached.
Here is comfort. Whoever will accept the faith of Jesus, has that which is as sure to work righteousness in him, and to save him, as the victory of Christ over sin and death is assured. He gives to us His own tried and approved faith. It has not a flaw, and we need not fear to use it: it will not fail us in any contest. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8. We are saved by nothing less than God’s unchangeable Word, and by Christ’s own personal confidence in that Word. We are not exhorted to try to do as well as He did, or to try to exercise as much faith as He had, but simply to take His faith, and let it work by love, and purify the heart.
Therefore, whoever induces people to trust in the law for righteousness, without Christ, simply puts a yoke upon them, and fastens them in bondage. When a man has been convicted by the law as a transgressor, and cast into prison, he can not be delivered from his chains by the law which holds him there. But that is no fault of the law; just because it is a good law, it can not say that a guilty man is innocent. So these Galatian brethren were being brought into bondage by men who were seeking to exalt the law of God by denying Him who gave it, and in whom alone its righteousness is found.