Through every day of life, there are certain laws we must observe. We are not to litter, exceed the posted speed limits on the roads, or take that which does not belong to us. Most people have no problem seeing that when such laws are disobeyed, those who transgress are deserving of the punishment they receive. One can obey these laws if he chooses to, and for his disobedience he has himself to blame. People have a harder time understanding that people who transgress the law of God are deserving of the punishment they will receive if the aid of Christ is not enlisted. Even more than this, people do not understand that the law of God can be kept. On the contrary, they believe that man cannot keep God’s law.
Is this true? God has always insisted that man keep His law (Gen. 2:17; Deut.11:1; John 14:15). Has a loving God told us to keep a law which we cannot possibly keep? Such an accusation would be an affront not only to God’s love, but also to His goodness, wisdom, and justice. Some have taken things so far as to say that a human being can do nothing God says without His direct operation upon that human being’s mind. When Jesus said, “Come unto me” (Matt. 11:28), was He directing people to do something they could not do? John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). However, If God’s commandments are unattainable by man, they are most certainly grievous.
Man has always had the capacity to keep God’s law. When God instructed man not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he could have obeyed but chose not to do so. Even the law of the Old Testament, which Paul “found to be unto death” because it simply pointed out sin (Rom. 7:10), could be obeyed. Although the Old Testament law was very rigorous and demanding, since God is not unreasonable one can know that the rigors and demands were attainable. It was said of Zacharias and Elisabeth, the parents of John the baptist, “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6). Concerning when Paul the apostle had been known as Saul of Tarsus, “an Hebrew of the Hebrews,” the inspiration of the Holy Spirit describes him, “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Phil. 3:6). All three of these people were able to stand without fault or blemish when it came to keeping the Old Testament law.
How much more today can we keep God’s law? The law we have today is the “perfect law of liberty,” truly able to set mankind free from sin (Jas. 1:25; cf. 2:12; Gal. 5:1, 13). To keep God’s law does not require sinless perfection—”For all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23), and “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Part of keeping God’s law includes doing what He has set forth as man’s necessary response to sin. This includes initial obedience to the Gospel (Rom. 6:17-18), and subsequent continuous adherence to the requirement to repent, pray to God, and confess to Him whatever sins are committed (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).
God is a fair, loving, just, and wise God. He knows that of which man is capable, and would not command man to do that which is impossible. God earnestly desires the salvation of every soul, and this is the purpose of the Gospel, His law for mankind today. Some may incorrectly hurl such epithets as “legalist” at those who believe in doing God’s law, but God says, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jas. 1:25). Let us each look into God’s law and continue in it—and keep it.