Rom 4:14-17 “For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.”
The definition of the word translated here as “of” denotes the “point of origin from which action or motion proceeds (see Strong’s).” If being heirs of the faith and righteousness of God, as imputed to Abraham, were by the law then the law is the point of origin for our faith and righteousness. If we take the law as the point of origin, then our faith (reliance upon Christ for salvation) is an empty gesture. The promise (pledge; especially a divine assurance of good) to Abraham and his seed (v.13) is rendered useless.
If our reliance is on the law, and subsequently the work of man’s hands, then we are not trusting in God. It is our failure to trust in Him that makes our faith empty and the promise meaningless. This does not change the power of faith or the truth of God’s promise. What it does change is my perception of who deserves the praise.
Why should we not hope in the law? The law accomplishes indignation. Other than the Lord Jesus Christ, no man has ever succeeded in satisfying the law. Our failure to satisfy the law is manifested in our transgression (violation) or the law. Since the scripture concludes that all have sinned, then the law works wrath for everyone who trusts in the law.
Paul refers to the law that works wrath as “the law of sin and death.” The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is the law of grace (Romans 8:2), and has made us free from the law of sin and death. Since Jesus is now our High Priest (and He was never a Levite – priests under the law) there is of necessity a change in the law (Hebrews 7:12). Where the law of ordinances and sacrifices of men is, there is only failure: where the law of Christ is, there is only victory.
Where there is no law of sin and death, the end result is there is no transgression. Jesus satisfied the law of sin and death, cleansed us of our sins, and imputed to us His righteousness. Because of grace, the law has no more dominion over us. Through the grace of God, given us in Jesus Christ and revealed to us by the Holy Ghost, the promise is secured to all the seed (circumcision and uncircumcision). Since it is of faith that works by grace, both the Jew and the Gentile are heirs of the promise.
Whereas the Jews in Paul’s day like to claim Abraham for themselves, Paul says he is the father (in faith) of us all. This is in keeping with God’s promise, which the law would render pointless. It is God who quickens us from our dead state in sin. It is God who has always seen the end from the beginning and sent His true word of prophecy.
May we recognize that it is God who has saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works (not by the law) but according to His purpose and grace through Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:9)!