Paul compares and contrasts many themes in his writings. A popular example is grace and works, but one that can be difficult to recollect is when he compares and contrasts faith. If you were to ask almost anyone what the opposite of faith is, they would say fear, or even disbelief. But what we will find, as Paul compares and contrasts, is the opposite of faith is the Law.
It is critical to understand that the Law was given to make us conscious of sin (Romans 3:20), and nothing more. In fact, there is nothing more it can do because of our human nature. It is impossible to achieve justification and righteousness by obedience to the Law, as Paul states: “Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law” Romans 3:20. In verse 21, Paul gives the contrast in saying that righteousness is achieved through faith in Jesus Christ. In reality, the Law condemns (2 Corinthians 3:6-9), and is even a curse to those who rely on it (Galations 3:10).
When Christ was crucified on the cross the Law was made useless, or null and void (Romans 4:14; Hebrews 7:18; 8:13). This was because everything the Law was suppose to do through the works of man, was done through the perfection of Christ and His crucifixion (Hebrews 7:22; 8:6-8).
Because of Christ we have salvation through faith in Jesus Christ rather than through obedience to the Law. Through the benefit of inheriting salvation, we are healed, delivered, preserved, protected, prosperous and made whole. This is the all-inclusive definition of being saved.
The reason the Law and faith are opposites, is because when you live under the law, which is thinking that you are justified by your actions, you make obedience to the law the key for receiving the blessings that has already been given to you through Christ’s crucifixion! This is why, without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The Law will make you conscious of yourself, rather than conscious of Jesus! This is why it states that faith is made void by the law (Romans 4:14). This contrast between faith and Law is evident in Romans 4:
Romans 4:13 (NIV): It was not through the 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.
When you are conscious of yourself, when you place your justification on your obedience you give Satan power over your life to hold the Law over you. He will speak lies into you, such as that if you read your Bible for an hour he will condemn you by saying someone read it for 2. Or he will say that you did not pray long or hard enough today, or that you did not worship good enough at church. Satan’s goal is to use the Law to manipulate you into a fear of a lacking mentality by showing you where you fell short. This means that your justification is not of faith, and whatever is not of faith is of sin (Romans 14:23).
Satan’s goals is to make you conscious of your state, and being born into sin your state is imperfect. But, your standing IS perfect!
Romans 5:2 (KJV): By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
We live in a culture that justification is done by actions and accomplishments. People are measured by whether or not they have a college degree, what kind of job they have, how much money they make, what kind of car they have. Studies have even shown people are measured by how attractive their spouses are, let alone if they are married or have children, or what part of the city they live in. This “Law” mentality is ingrained in us from the beginning, which is why it is easy for us to bring our actions and accomplishments, such as serving enough at church, or being good enough to those around us, into our process of our trying to justify ourselves TO Christ, rather than BY Christ.
When you are conscious of your state because of the Law, you fail to see your standing in Christ because of His grace or what has been freely given to you because you are focused on your “self”, or your temporary state. Your state, through the Law is temporary. Your state is governed by your physical, emotional and mental feelings and thoughts. They change with time. When you do bad you will feel bad, not worthy of Christ’s love because if that is your source of justification you are putting the “self” at the center of your life. This is the realm in which the devil lives, the realm of feelings. Feel your feelings, but do not be led by them. Be led by your faith.
Your standing, on the other hand, is permanent and does not change. This is the realm of faith. Your faith leads you through the Holy Spirit, not the Law, into an everlasting standing throughout eternity. Your standing is that you are blameless, pure, made whole, perfect and just. You are God’s chosen, white as snow and pure and perfect as a spotless bride because the blood of Christ has covered you from your sins. Christ has paid for all your sins, past, present and future. God sees you in your eternal standing because He is not governed by time.
Judge yourself by your state and make adjustments according to the Word of God. Measure yourself by your standing and who you are in Christ. This is the difference between the Law, and faith. The Law shows you your imperfect state, faith shows you your perfect standing.
When you are led by your faith, rather than the Law, you are led into the nature of God by the Holy Spirit. This is Christ giving you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). When you are living in the realm of Christ’s nature, or the realm of faith, sin will not be in your nature because you will have God’s heart of flesh. Therefore, sin will not be in your nature.