Third Sunday after Trinity – Tuesday
By the Law is the knowledge of sin. – Romans 3:20.
God knows, of course, that we cannot keep His Law perfectly as His holiness demands of us. But He wants us also to know that this is the case. Now because of that faint knowledge of the Law that man still has by nature, man naturally also knows something about his transgression of the Law, hence of his sin. But God wants to deepen this knowledge, make it more thorough. We must know our total depravity.
Such knowledge is wrought by His Law, His Law revealed in the Bible. There we behold as in a mirror how unholy we are; for there we see how holy we ought to be. The Law reveals to us the inmost crevices of our hearts, and lays bare the evil lust, which hates God and loves sin, and which nestles there like a venomous sin-vermin. Wicked desires (even apart from outward actions and words) are already sin in the eyes of God; but this fact is generally not understood by natural man. It is, however, a fact that is clearly revealed by the Lord in His holy Law. This is what St. Paul refers to when he writes: “Nay, I had not known sin but by the Law; for I had not known lust except the Law had said: Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:7). Indeed, by the Law is the knowledge of sin.
Why does God want us thus to learn to know our sin through the Law? To keep us from exalting ourselves above others, and to remind us again and again how much we need Jesus and the righteousness which He has purchased for us and given to us. True, the Law, and the knowledge of sin which we gain through it, does not work faith, not in the least. The Gospel and the knowledge of the grace of God in Christ alone does this. But the Law shows us how hopelessly lost we are without Christ, and thus serves to prepare man’s heart for the balm of the Gospel.
Seeing our wretched, sinful condition in the mirror of God’s Law, let us ever seek and find refuge in the loving arms of our Savior.
PRAYER – My God, I, Thy child, give thanks to Thee that by Thy Law Thou didst reveal to me my total depravity and that by Thy Gospel Thou didst reveal to me Thy grace, which healeth all my spiritual diseases. O Lord, give me Thy Holy Spirit, that, as I more fully learn to know my sin by the Law, I may also be strengthened by the Gospel and more firmly hold to Thy grace which is in Christ Jesus, my Lord. Amen.
The Law reveals the guilt of sin
And makes men conscience-stricken;
The Gospel then doth enter in
The sinful soul to quicken.
Come to the cross, trust Christ, and live;
The Law no peace can ever give,
No comfort and not blessing.
(TLH) Hymn 377, 8