By The Law No Man is Justified

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:5

Laws are necessary for things to function. For example, just think about what your house would be like without the law of gravity.  Or, think what our country would be like without a government.  Chaos, disorder, even violence and misery would result. The laws that God gives us are equally as necessary.  If we were not commanded to love our neighbor, for example, we would naturally act selfishly, causing pain and misery.

However, a side effect of having these laws is that once we break them we are subject to the consequences.  And, since no human being has ever been totally perfect except Christ, each and every one of us would be subject to punishment.  And, not just a little slap on the wrist, but eternal punishment, because we could never meet the demands of justice.  In 2 Nephi 2:5 it says:

And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

Sometimes I get the idea, subconsciously, that it is my obeying the commandments that brings me salvation.  However, if it were my obedience alone that were to save me then I would have been condemned a long, long time ago when I first committed a sin.  Salvation cannnot come through obeying the law, because the law is exact and unyielding and leaves no room for growth or improvement.

It is very humbling to think that no matter how good I get at obedience, I will always be totally dependent on the Savior for salvation.  Although sometimes I may think that I am better than other people because I appear more obedient, the truth is that I am just as dependent on the Savior as even the most sinful person ever to live.  We are all condemned by the law, even the best of us.

As I prepared to write this I realized a misunderstanding of this principle can lead to all kinds of bad behavior.  It can lead to pride, or it can lead to perfectionism, or it can lead to self-hate, and so on.  When I hear people talk about why they left the LDS church, it seems that very often it can be traced back to the misunderstanding of this principle.  If  you believe you will be saved only so much as you perfectly obey the law, then you will be miserable because no one can perfectly obey the law except the Savior.

This is NOT a license to go out and do whatever you want.  Later on I will talk about why to gain salvation we must do our best to obey the law, although most of us will never achieve perfection in this life.

This past week I have been trying to work on not being so prideful, so today I am going to try and watch my thoughts and catch myself when I start to think I am better than other people.  Then, tonight, I will write in my journal about what I noticed and about how this principle helped me to see my pride.

When you realize that you are not saved by the law, or by perfect obedience, does that change how you think about some things? How does it change?


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