Summary: Romans 4:13-25
(13)It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. (14)For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, (15)because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
(16)Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. (17)As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations."He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
(18)Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." (19)Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. (20)Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, (21)being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (22)This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." (23)The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, (24)but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (25)He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
We talked last week about Abraham having been considered righteous through his faith and that this had come before the covenant of circumcision and even before the law had been established. Circumcision was instituted fourteen years after he was considered righteous by faith and the law did not come until 430 years after he was considered righteous by faith.
As we are working through the book of Romans we see three major battles Paul is fighting here, battles that he is fighting with the truth of the gospel. Again these are incorrect theologies.
Salvation by works
Salvation through the covenant of circumcision
Salvation through the keeping of the law
Paul like a surgeon is cleanly cutting his way through this disease that has plagued the Jews and is replacing this disease with fresh living tissue which is Christ and His gospel.
(13)It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. (14)For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, (15)because law brings wrath.
Why does law bring wrath? Because if our faith is in following a set of rules thinking that if you just do this you will be perfect and gain salvation, then your faith is not were it should be. You will find that you are incapable of fulfilling it and will be then be judged by it. Your faith should always be in God and in the work of Christ on the cross.
If you notice here Paul at this point does not say “The Law” meaning the Jewish Law but just law or better yet general morality. For the Jews “The Law” and for us the morality that God has instilled in all of us. Being a good person is not what gets you salvation.
If we think that we have fulfilled some sort of rules or regulations then we tend to think we are owed something and God does not owe us anything, but it is we who owe Him.
Paul is showing us here that if we think that we can achieve a saved status with God on our own fulfillment of some set rules on morality and not by faith in Him then we have some consequences.
Paul here shows us three consequences:
Faith has no value – We cut God right out of it and are saying that it is me who decides if I deserve to gain salvation and not God.
The promise is worthless – Living by a law or the law nullifies Gods promise to us to have righteousness by our faith. We know we can’t live by the law perfectly so if that is what we are putting our hope in then we are as good as dead.
The law brings wrath – This third consequence of trying to achieve a saved status by the law principle is that, instead of achieving salvation, all one actually achieves is wrath. If you live by the law then when you fail the perfection needed to accomplish it you just seal your fait.