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New City Catechism - Question 15
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Posted by Ed Fedor, Associate Pastor



Q15: Since no one can keep the law, what is its purpose?


A: That we may know the holy nature and will of God, and the sinful nature and disobedience of our hearts; and thus our need of a Savior. The law also teaches and exhorts us to live a life worthy of our Savior.


Kid’s Answer:

That we may know the holy nature of God, and the sinful nature of our hearts; and thus our need of a Savior.



Romans 3:20  “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”



Matthew 5:48; Romans 3:10-20, 7:7; Eph. 4:1



When husbands and wives have children, they instinctively know that these babies are utterly dependent on their parents. It becomes obvious very quickly that they can’t do anything on their own. As they start to grow, they can begin to do some things on their own. Little things at first. They learn to go from here to there by crawling and then by walking. They learn to feed themselves. They learn to dress themselves and so on. It takes time for them to develop. And every parent knows that they can’t expect their 6-year-old to get in the car, drive to the bank and negotiate the terms of a mortgage loan. That expectation would utterly frustrate that child.


When it comes to God’s law, we learned that no human being can keep the law perfectly. God set the standard of holiness sky high! He calls us to be holy like he is holy (Matt. 5:48). But we can’t be! It’s sort of like the example I cited above. The task is not only far above our ability, it’s impossible to be as holy as God (Rom. 3:10-18). So what, then, is the purpose of the law? Did God give it to us to frustrate us?


First, the law shows us the moral perfection of God. The law is a reflection of the holiness of God since it originated with him. It also very clearly demonstrates the fact that no matter how hard we try, we cannot keep it. Even if we can keep one tiny part of the law, we’re going to soon fail in that part and then in others. “Through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20b). Just like a baby, it causes us to look to our Father in complete dependence. It drives us to recognize our inability to keep the law and then it causes us to look to God for the solution. It drives us to look for a Savior – one who will not only forgive our disobedience and failure to be holy, but one who can keep the law in our place.


Once people are saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ and his atoning work on the cross, the moral law shows us how to live a life worthy of the high calling of God unto salvation (Eph. 4:1). Walking in obedience to God’s commands doesn’t make us worthy of salvation in God’s eyes, but it demonstrates a heart of love for him and a sincere desire to honor God and not take his grace for granted.


We believe that man was created in the image of God, but fell into sin, and is therefore lost, and that only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained.  (Gen. 1:26272:7223:1-6Rom. 3:9-12,235:12,186:23;  Jn. 3:35-7)


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