Old Testament Law is the Focus of the Book of Romans!

by: Wayne Schatzle

       The most controversial book of the Bible concerning the wisdom of God is the letter from Paul to the Romans. This book has been used by men for ages to "prove" the law is not observed by Christians.

       First, some background on this letter. The apostle Paul wrote it to a church comprised of Jews and Gentiles. He used 56 quotes from the Old Testament. The overall theme was judging others in the church, and that term was used 23 times. Why go to Romans to look at the Old Testament laws? The law is mentioned far more in Romans than any other book - an amazing 76 times.

       Paul's writings, as informative as they are, do come with a warning. We read in 2 Peter 3:16 how some of Paul's writings are hard to understand, and the untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction. Verse 17 adds we should not be led away in this wickedness (anomalous/lawlessness). So we see that even in the beginning of Christianity, unscrupulous men were railing against God's holy law.

       We should be aware that the majority of those 76 references to the law are in a positive sense. Look at these thoughts: "The hearers of the law are not justified but the doers are ... Do we void the law by faith? Certainly not ...The law has dominion over a man as long as he lives... The carnal mind is against God and not subject to the law ... , The law is holy, just and good..." (Romans 2:13, 3:31, 7:1, 7:12, 8:7).

       The oft-quoted Romans 6:14, "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace," seems to reinforce the idea that you need not keep the law, but few will quote the very next verse, "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Certainly not."

      So why the fuss over the law? Some, possibly the Jewish believers, were troubling others that they must keep the law to somehow earn salvation. Enter Paul in this most difficult situation to be the peacemaker. He had the delicate task to show everyone that the law is what identified sin and they should avoid sinning, not to earn salvation, but to avoid coming under the penalty of breaking the law - which was eternal death (Romans 3:20, 4:15, 7:7).

      In Chapter 14, Paul tries to instill peace in the church at Rome. Several topics were being discussed and none were actually settled. The object was to get the brethren to be tolerant of others and stop judging one another. As he said in verse 4, "Who are you to judge another's servant?"

       The subject of understanding the law and how God views it is of utmost importance today. There is much talk of revival and reforms, individually and collectively as a nation. The first step in reconciliation to God is to repent of our sins.

       We must identify sin so we may repent and stop transgressing His law. To not know what sin is makes repentance worthless. That is a shocking statement, but true.

       "Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble. Lord, I hope for Your salvation and I do Your commandments. My soul keeps Your testimonies and I love them exceedingly. I keep Your precepts, for all my ways are before You." (Psalm 119:165-168).

(Written by Wayne Schatzle,
director, Freedom Biblical Information Center
P.O. Box 1806, West Chester OH 45071)