Romans 4:15 Law, sin, wrath and discipline

Romans 4:15

15because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

The law brought condemnation (Rom. 4:15). It is only for sinners, not for the righteous, as we see 1 Timothy 1:9-11:

9We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Righteous people do not need the law. The law is for those people who are not trustworthy. Its function is to inflict the penalty of justice upon the transgressor, and so works wrath.

If I am under law and I violate it, as I will (Rom. 1:18-3:20), then I have transgressed. I must be punished, which would rule the fulfillment of the promise. Law nullifies faith and promise.

Additionally, if I am NOT under law and I sin, as I will, then I have not transgressed. There can be sin without there being a transgression. There can be judgement on sin where there is no law, but not on transgression where there is no law – we see this in Genesis 19, which occurred before Moses was given the Law. When a just judgement is made and carried out, the situation is put right (seen with Cain in Genesis 4).

Faith is defined as belief. Only one thing hinders our faith, the lack of knowledge. Faith grows by means of knowledge of God revealed in Scripture. However, sometimes God moves us beyond our knowledge so we will struggle and in so doing learn to know Him better. In our struggles, we make uninformed decisions that are inconsistent with the nature and revelation of God. The degree to which we are unaware of God’s revealed character is the degree to which we are immature in our faith and to that extent, we make sinful choices. But at those times, we are not being rebellious, simply immature.

One key difference between sin as transgression and sin as immaturity is God’s response to it. When God views sin as transgression, He executes His wrath against it to vindicate justice. When God views sin as immaturity, He can not bring wrath. Rather, He deals in love and seeks to restore and grow His beloved but immature children. Sin, for believers, now has the character of immaturity. We come under his disciplining, restoring love, not His wrath.


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