Upholding the Law with Faith in God’s Mercy
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 3:28–31 ESV
There was an idea that different gods of different peoples had different requirements. A god near a volcano needs people thrown into it and an unhappy Kraken needs to be fed a steady diet of virgins. That was the thinking of a lot of people in the days of Paul. If you liked the sacrifices or rituals of this god over another, you could just switch and serve the way you wanted to serve.
Paul is backing up the most basic of all Jewish beliefs – that there is only one real God, and bringing it into the life and sacrifice of Jesus: the fact that Jesus was sent by that One and Only God. The Laws that applied to the Jews also applied to the Gentiles. The Law Paul is talking about isn’t the Mosaic Law that concerns what kinds of shellfish you can’t eat and what kind of work is allowed on the Sabbath. No, Paul has already been talking about another, deeper law.
Deeper than the Torah, revealed by God to Moses on the mountain and upheld by the Levites is the law of sin and death. The law that C.S. Lewis is referring to in ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’ as the deep magic from before time. That old, deep law is summed up in Romans 6:23 when Paul says “The wages of sin is death.” It’s the law that God gave Adam and Eve in the garden “if you eat of this, you will surely die.”
That ancient law is upheld when we trust in God for our salvation. When we trust that God will take care of us no matter what. Adam and Eve didn’t have faith to obey, but they had faith to believe God when He said that one day the woman’s seed (offspring) would crush the Devil. Abraham believed God when He said the world would be full of his children and Jesus believed God when He trusted Him to raise Him from the dead after the cross.
We uphold the ancient law of living by faith and loving the Lord with all of ourselves. God is the god of everyone, no matter where they live or who they are, and He will justify all of them that trust Him for their salvation rather than depending on their own deeds.