The Mosaic Law Could Never Save
by Gil Rugh
The Mosaic Law was never intended to be a means of salvation, and no one was ever saved by keeping the Mosaic Law. However, the Jews in Paul’s day saw themselves as superior to the Gentiles because of their adherence to the Law.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul drew a contrast between the way the Jews viewed themselves and the way they viewed the Gentiles. “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles” (Gal. 2:15). The Jews saw themselves as clean and the Gentiles as unclean. That’s why they didn’t eat with Gentiles. Paul went on to say:
Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we [who are not sinners like the Gentiles] have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified (Gal. 2:16).
Although the Jews had the Law, a great revelation from God and a great honor and blessing, no Jews were ever saved by keeping the Law. They were saved the same way unclean Gentiles were—by faith.
It is a tragedy that people still think they are going to heaven because they follow the Law, or parts of it.
Many people today think they are going to heaven because they try to keep the Ten Commandments, which is a summary of the Mosaic Law (see Ex. 20). Scripture is clear that this isn’t a means of salvation—it wasn’t for the Jews in the Old Testament and it isn’t for anyone now.
Paul quoted Habakkuk (see Hab. 2:4) who lived 600 years before Christ when he wrote:
Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for the righteous man shall live by faith (Gal. 3:11).
If one could be saved by keeping the Law, then Christ died needlessly, and God made the greatest mistake ever made in time or eternity.
Paul affirmed that Jesus did not die in vain.
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (2:21).
Paul further clarified salvation by faith:
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified (2:16).
It is only by grace, in response to faith, that God credits to us the holiness of His Son. Both the Old and New Testaments clearly affirm that “the just shall live by faith.”