Why Did God Give The Law if we can't keep it?

Home >  Full Study List >  Why Did God Give The Law if we can't keep it?
Question / Comment - Why Did God Give The Law?

I took the heaven test and failed, but if no one can keep the commandments, Why did God even give it to us?

You are probably going to answer that He gave it to us so we would know what was wrong and right and that we were sinners. I still do not understand why it would matter if we knew that we were sinners or we knew what was wrong and right if no one could keep the commandments.

JPN Reply:

Hi, thanks for the email.

So you failed the Heaven Test...Well, that is the very purpose of the Heaven Test... because that is the very purpose of the law. You are correct that in the law we see God's holy character and through that are given understanding concerning God's laws for what is right and wrong. The problem is that no one has, or could keep them!.

The Bible says that the main reason God gave us the law is to drive us to Christ. You see, here is God's problem - His creation is sinful and doesn't ever measure up to the standard He has set. Yet, through pride, it thinks that it is 'good enough'. Now God has a solution to the sin problem... the death of His son as an atoning sacrifice... but what can He do about the His creation who through pride doesn't even see it's need of Jesus' sacrifice?

So the law was given to show man his fallen nature, and believe it or not, to even increase his sin so that he would look away from himself as the answer and turn to the only one who ever could save - Jesus. These verses teach this -

Rom 5:20 'The law was added (given) so that the trespass might INCREASE. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Gal 3:23-25 'Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. 

So the law exposes our sin. We see ourselves as we truly are. And having seen the problem, we will then look for the solution - which is that through the death of the Lord Jesus, we may be declared righteous in God's sight through faith in what Jesus has done on our behalf.

Question / Comment

If someone truly got a 100% score after taking the heaven test, would not that person go to heaven without believing in Jesus?

There is no person that has lived a TOTALLY perfect life in thought and deed except Jesus. We should always remember that God looks at the inner motives of our heart as well as our outward acts. No one could say that they have always been pure in their inner motives. And nor can a person's good works override the justice demanded by even breaking one law. For example, let's say that I am a perfect driver. I never go over the speed limit or break any of the other road rules. But one day I do go over the speed limit and I'm pulled over by the police. Could I say to them that 'Yes Mr. Policeman, I broke the law and was speeding but I should be let off because I have driven this road at least 100 times under the limit!' Well, you could try but I don't like your chances! Even one breakage of the law demands a punishment. How so much more with God! You should also remember, as James said,

Jam 2:10 "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker."

Question / Comment

If a person breaks one of the 10 commandments after repenting for past sins and believing in Jesus Christ, will the person still go to heaven?
Yes, for God does not judge a person by the law once they have come to Christ. This is the wonderful news of the gospel... that Christians no longer stand before God as sinners under the law. We stand in grace! (Rom 5:1) Christians have been given 'a gift of righteousness' because Jesus is their righteousness... He is their standing. They are no longer 'under law' but live 'under grace'.

Gal 3:24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. 

Rom 5:17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 

Rom 6:14 'For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. '

Also read Romans 8 which spells out the wonderful position that the believer finds himself in. Thanks, all the best.
Question / Comment


I was searching you website trying to find a good article on the goodness behind the laws and commands and regulations God gives to us throughout the bible. I know the 10 commandments were given to show us that we were not capable of keeping them and pointing us toward the Savior but they must have another purpose. I know they are like guard rails to keep us on the road of life, not burdensome rules by a tyrant.

Weren't they like a guardian until Christ or something like that. I hear so many Christians talk about the "law" like its an evil word or something. I think the reasoning is because we are not "under the law but under grace" they think the law is bad!

I want to know the proper place of the law for those of us who are born again, not under the law.

I guess the whole world isn't under the law, right? Didn't God put to death what was standing between the Jews and Gentiles, the law, making them one? But now I would like to see God's commands in the proper context. I know he meant them for our good, for our freedom, safety, peace. I know that sin leads to bondage and death.

Please help me to see God's laws as David did. Not burdensome, beautiful, perfect, life giving.

Thanks in advance
JPN Reply:

It is obviously a big topic and isn't answered quickly. You are right that the law is holy and good and is an expression of God's character and all that is fundamentally right and wrong... but the problem is that our fleshly nature isn't good! And the two don't get at all well! That is what Romans 7 and the start of 8 is all about. Christians are no longer under the Mosaic law but are under grace. But that doesn't mean that the general morality expressed in the law has changed. It means that what the law was powerless to do (because of our sinful nature) God is now able to do when we walk in dependence upon Him. Have a look at ROm 8:3-4 and you'll see that the end result of being under grace is still that the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled... but they are fulfilled IN US, by the Holy Spirit living and changing us, not by us trying our hardest to live in conformity to the law.

You need to be careful when you speak of the law giving being life giving... it isn't that and wasn't given for that purpose. In fact the N.T says

Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
(Gal 3:21-25)

The N.T says that the law was a ministry of death and a minstry of condemnation (see 2 Cor 3:6-10) and that it kills. Anway, it is a big topic so if you need more info (as I realise I haven't written much sorry) I would direct you to the following link:


The first part may not be relevant but I think it will help answer some of your other questions and is a good solid overview of the whole topic.

All the best

Related Series Posts