“For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”
For if I build again those things which I destroyed,
Paul “destroyed” legalism when he put his trust in the cross as the way of salvation. Hypothetically, if Paul tore down the house of legalism as the way of salvation and sanctification, then rebuilding it would be inconsistent with grace. Self-righteousness would replace Christ-provided righteousness.
The word “destroyed” means completely razed to the ground. Paul destroyed the law as a system of salvation and sanctification. Paul was in the business of destroying false doctrine. In chapters 3 and 4, he will show that the law never did save or sanctify, even in the Old Testament. Biblical consistency is a core value of Christianity.
I make myself a transgressor
A “transgressor” is someone who crosses over a line or standard. Paul would violate the standard of grace if he reverted to law. In that case, Paul constitutes or establishes himself as a “transgressor.” Righteousness based on merit will show how extensively we violate the law.
Law and grace are mutually exclusive.
Law and grace cannot be co-extended, for one contradicts the other. When we believe in the death of Jesus Christ to forgive our sins, we, in effect, destroy the law as a system of salvation. If we revert to the law, we rebuild it as a system of salvation. If we choose both the law and grace as systems of salvation, we restrict both of them.
A foundational truth of Christianity is that we are sinful in comparison to a holy God. We have a heart of mutiny against God. The only cure for that rebellion is the cross. We cannot engender righteousness from within because we are corrupt within. This only points to our desperate need for Christ and His work on the cross.
It is not the doctor’s fault when we have heart disease. Our clogged arteries are killing us. Doctors merely report test results. They simply tell us the truth. Christianity tells us the truth about how God views us as totally depraved (not totally depraved to man but to a holy God).
It does me no good to keep patching my house if the structure is fundamentally flawed. I have a primary problem in my spiritual house that no patchwork will fix. It has to do with the foundation of my being. God condemned our moral house. That is why we must tear down any attempt at self-righteousness as a way of gaining God’s approval. We must acknowledge that the only approval we can have before Him is our acceptance in Christ. It is a shameful thing to face the fact that we have nothing to offer God. In humility, we must throw ourselves on the work of Christ for salvation and sanctification.