No Law, No Transgression—Romans 4:15
"...because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression" (Romans 4:15)
What a marvelous statement! If anyone questioned living by faith in Jesus, as opposed to living according to their own works, this verse should settle the matter. "For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. " (Romans 4:14-15)
Did you know that the Law released the wrath of God against mankind? We either live under the grace of God and his provision of salvation and the reconciliation of peace bought for us. Or we remain under the letter of the Law, depending upon our own self-righteousness. It cannot be both, it is either or. The Law brings death but the promise brought life. So how does the Law enslave those who choose to live under it, and release the wrath of God.
To answer this, we have to understand why the Law was given. Previously, in Romans chapter 3, we discussed in detail the purpose of the Law. In summary, the Law was given to kill, (2 Corinthians 3:7) to condemn, (2 Corinthians 3:9) and the Law is what strengthened sin in our lives. (1 Corinthians 15:56). Because of this, the Law can never reconcile us to God because it weakened us.
The purpose of the Law was to show us what sin was and point us to Christ. When the Law was given, it aroused sin within our heart. Just like a child who is told not to do something, as the very command is issued, the child is driven to go against restraint and towards disobedience. In the same way, the Law showed us what sin was. So it only stands to reason that apart from the Law, sin has no power, because it does not arouse the desire to go against it. Paul said the same thing in Romans 7:8, "But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead."
While we were under the Law, we were enemies of God. So the Law brought us wrath. Romans 5:10 says, "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" So the good news is that while we were enemies, Jesus defeated and fulfilled the Law and bought us peace with God.
When we live by faith in what Jesus did for us, then according to Romans 6:14, we are no longer under law but under grace. So now that the obligation to the Law has been broken, we do not transgress the law by sinning. Paul did a marvelous job of summarizing it by saying, "...because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. " Romans 4:15
Today, may you rest in knowing that you are at peace with God by trusting in Jesus as your savior. He has redeemed you from the curse of the law. No longer do we live at enmity with God, instead we call him friend and Father.
Original article published July 7, 2009.