Nah, not really. It just sounded like a catchy title — I’m distressingly fond of cliche’s as you may have noticed. I must have been pressed for time when I did this particular study because I only did Romans 3:19-20. Here’s my paraphrase:
All the things the law says, it says to those within the law so that every mouth will be stopped and all the world come under the penal sentence of God. This is because no flesh will be declared righteous before Him by doing the works of the law. What law DOES is reveal sin.
Paul is here speaking to those of the Jewish religion, but he’s also speaking to the rest off the world. As you can see from the earlier chapters, we all have SOME sense of right and wrong, and if we offend against that sense, if we know we’re wrong, then we are “a law unto ourselves” and we should obey that law. In fact, we can’t, but the whole reason for the law is to show us our need. We, none of us, can with any honesty claim to be sufficient in ourselves.
This is the metaphor of the Garden of Eden again. When we choose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we choose independence. We believe ourselves able to live by our knowledge and to live righteously and justly by our own innate goodness. The law gives that the lie. We KNOW in our hearts that we stand condemned before God and one another for our unloving behavior toward one another and toward Him. Only one of us has ever lived a perfect life and we nailed Him to a tree. But He did show us the way and more than that, He cut the trail for us to follow.
Jesus lived by the life of His Father. He followed; He accessed the mind of God; He didn’t figure life out on His own, but rather obeyed His Father, even to death on the cross — all for the love of us. We weren’t made to live as independent, unconnected individuals. We were made for community with our God and with one another. That is the way of love.
Naturally, it wasn’t enough for Father to tell us this. (Choose the good tree, Luke!) We had to figure out for ourselves. Even a little child has to touch the hot stove just once to see whether Mommy is telling the truth, but the difference between a grownup and the kid is that the grownup will usually do the thing that hurts over and over and over, hoping for a different outcome.
Part of what Paul has been saying here in these early chapters is that whether his readers are Jews, circumcised and at least overtly keeping the law (the teachings) or heathen, pagan gentiles without that advantage, they are equally guilty. Neither the one nor the other can claim to be justified in their own strength before God. All stand condemned as law breakers. The law is good. It served its purpose, but that purpose was never to enable us to save ourselves; it was only to demonstrate to us granite-brains that we couldn’t earn it. We need help.