If I were to keep the whole law, would that make me righteous?
Nov 16, 2005
Yes, it would--if you could do so. The problem is, you have already broken it, for "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23). Nothing good that you can do from now on will change the past. So the question is irrelevant.
When God gave the law, He set the standard of perfection (righteousness) that God intended man to live by. When Adam fell, man lost the ability to live up to that perfect standard. Hence, the need for a Sacrifice by which we may obtain forgiveness for sin.
When we come into the full image of Christ, we will do everything the law says, because we will then be capable of fulfilling it—even as Christ was capable when He walked the earth. If that perfect way of life is our future, should we not be “practicing” even today? Should we not be imitators of Jesus Christ? 1 John 2:6 says, “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” The fact that Jesus Christ—who was without sin—kept the law perfectly shows us that the law prophesied of the life that Jesus would lead, as well as His calling.
The law prophesied of Him, “Thou shalt not steal.” Jesus did not steal from any man.
The law prophesied of Him, “Thou shalt not murder.” Jesus murdered no man.
The law prophesied of Him, “Thou shalt not covet.” Jesus coveted nothing of any man.
The law was thus prophetic of Christ. We were incapable of keeping it, but He was fully capable of keeping it—and He did. He did what no one else could do. He made up for our deficiency. Jesus did not use other men’s imperfections as an excuse to be imperfect Himself. He never said, “Well, nobody’s perfect, so I don’t mind indulging in a little covetousness now and then.” Instead, He said, “Man is incapable of living righteously, so I will show them how to do it by personal example. I will come to earth and live among them. I will show them how it is done. And then I will ask them to have faith in My blood as their Sacrifice for sin. I will them impute My righteousness to them—calling what is NOT as though it were (Rom. 4:17), until such time as I finish my work in them to bring them to perfection.”
So He gave the law and prophesied in it that He would bring us His righteousness in two stages: first by imputation, making us legally righteous; and secondly by making us actually righteous. Leviticus 14 and 16 speaks of the two birds that would heal man of their “leprosy” (mortality) and the two goats that would cleanse man of his sin.
In both cases, it required two animals, not just one, to complete the job. The first goat (Jesus at the Cross) was to COVER our sin. He imputed righteousness to us by covering it with His blood. The purpose of the second goat (Jesus in His second coming) is to REMOVE our sin. The first dove (Jesus at the Cross) was to impute immortality to us, promising life to us. The second dove (Jesus in His second coming) will actually make us immortal, where we will never experience sickness or death again.
This is the divine order by which He is perfecting us and giving us immortality. At present, we are imputed righteous, for God is calling what is NOT as though it were. Thus, we are able to go boldly before the throne of grace even now, for our sins are covered. When God looks at us, He sees only Jesus, and He sees us as perfect, even though we are not. Because of this, there is no reason for us to continue wallowing around in guilt. There is no reason for us to fear going before His throne boldly. We need not fear Jesus for being “too holy,” and thus, we have no need to get to Him through the intercession of Mary or any other saint.
In His second appearance, Jesus Christ will remove sin from us and transform us fully into His likeness. At that time we will be made actually righteous. According to the law of the two goats and the two doves, this completes the work that He is now doing in us.