In today’s verse Paul is comparing the dead end that comes from trusting your ability to obey
the law with the life that comes from trusting God’s ability to keep his promise. In the case
of trusting in the law, a man is actually trusting in himself while disregarding God. In the case of trusting in the promise, a man is trusting in God while disregarding himself.
A man who depends on his ability to be obedient is showing contempt for something God has promised to give them if they will simply trust God’s promise.
Paul sums up the reason for the law when he says:
“Where there is no law there is no transgression.”
In the above statement Paul is simply capturing the need for law. The law identifies God’s
absolute standards. When Paul says God did not give the law to save us, then, a man may ask,
“Why would God even give the law to people if it is worthless?”
The answer to this is in understanding that the law is valuable because it establishes boundaries.
A violation of those boundaries is called a “transgression.” Until the transgression that results
in death is identified there is no need for salvation and the promise of life. So, if there is no law
there is no known transgression; where there is no transgression there can be no salvation.
With no law there is no clear identification of the problem and so there is no search, no need, no desire for salvation.
The good doctor must be able to identify the disease before he can promise the cure. The wise patient must trust the good doctor's diagnosis of the problem before he can trust the doctor's promised remedy.
The foolish patient, in this case, would consider the diagnosis (the law) as the cure. Do not confuse the diagnosis (law) with the remedy (promise).