The Law Producing Accountability for Sin

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God . . . For by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Rom 3:19-20)

God’s law speaks to those who are under the law. This would certainly include the Jews, for the law of God was given to them in writing (first engraved on stones by God, then written on parchment in the Holy Scriptures). Yet, the law speaks to the Gentiles as well, since they have it inscribed upon their consciences. “[The Gentiles] show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness” (Rom 2:15). Thus, every Jew and every Gentile begins life under the law.

Remember, when the law speaks, it is saying, “be holy, be loving, be perfect.” The result of all people having received this message (either externally in writing, or internally upon the conscience) is that “every mouth [is] stopped.”

What would we say if we stood before God, and He evaluated our lives by His law? How could we answer if God said, “Here is your life; here is My law; now, give an account of yourself.” Our “mouths [would be] stopped.” We could provide no excuse, explanation, or justification.
The law produces accountability to God. And this accountability is universal. “All the world [is] guilty before God.” There are no exceptions. Everyone in all the world is included. The law of God reveals to all humanity what sin really is.

The law produces accountability to God. And this accountability is universal.

Sin is not a cultural phenomenon. It is a divine revelation of what is absolutely unacceptable before God in light of His holy character. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” Man would have no insight into this matter were it not for the law of God. “I would not have known sin except through the law” (Rom 7:7). Murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting are all revealed to mankind by God’s law. “For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet'” (Rom 7:7). Through God’s law we are all accountable to Him for our sins.


O Lord God of holiness and love and all that is perfect, Your holy law has stopped my mouth. I have no excuse for my spiritual failure before Your perfect standard. What I have read in Your word confirms the convictions of my heart. My life would stand forever guilty in Your sight, if it were not for Your forgiving, justifying grace. Thank You for providing forgiveness of my sins and justifying me, when I could offer no justifying words or deeds of my own. As I look at the world of humanity all around me, please remind me that they are guilty before You, until they come to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This prayer I humbly offer in Jesus name, Amen.

Copyright © 2004 by Bob Hoekstra. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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