John 3:17, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
The first mission of the coming of the Lord was not to condemn, He came as the Savior. Not the Savior of good people but bad people. He is coming the second time as a judge.
I have heard it said by some that we should not listen to what men like Apostle Paul wrote because they condemned, that we only should listen to the red letters of Christ. Those who make such arguments lack understanding that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”, 2Timothy 3:16. What Jesus did not say in person, He said it through other men like the Apostle Paul.
Let’s see how Christ in person and Christ through Apostle Paul help us understand this vs. First, vs. “17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world…” He didn’t have to condemn, the world was condemned already (vs.18). In His preaching He would demonstrate that we are all under sin in need of a Savior. All He had to do was to pull the curtain of His holiness and let His glorious righteous light shine through our hearts to show how sinful and dead we are. Think of this analogy, imagine a lady is cleaning her table in the morning, she then looks at how nice and clean the table looks. Not long after, she opens the curtains of the window to let in the morning sunlight. To her horror she sees dust on the table she just cleaned. Did the light create dust? Absolutely not, it merely exposed what she could not see without the aid of the light. This is what Jesus began to do especially with the preaching of the Sermon on the Mount. He drew back the curtain that the light of His righteousness would shine through the hearts of men as He expounded on the law. He did not revise the laws; He explained and expounded on them “you have heard it said, but I say…”, Matthew 5-7.
The Jews thought they had kept the laws (their tables were clean) until the Lord drew the curtains to show them it was more than actions but heart condition. Listen to what He says, ““Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill”, Matthew 5:17. Only Christ could fulfil the law.
A rich young ruler came to Jesus to ask how he could attain eternal life, Matthew 19:16-22. He called him (Jesus) good teacher just as Nicodemus did to which Jesus corrected his understanding of who was considered good, …, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God…”, Matthew 19:17. Then Jesus told him, “…if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” to which he responded “18 …”Which ones?”. He thought you had to pick and chose some and leave the rest. The Lord gave him five horizontal commandments, he declared to have kept by his understanding and not as the Lord outlined in the Sermon on the Mount. Vs. “20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”, Matthew 19:20-22. He was given a rude awakening that to get to heaven, he needed moral perfection he lacked, he loved his money more than God. And James puts the final nail on the coffin when he says, “ For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all”, James 2:10. In other words, one bad egg is enough to ruin 9 good eggs.
The purpose of the law was not to make man righteous but to reveal the condition of the heart. Paul in Romans 7:9-13 says, “9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me”, …13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.” What he hoped to save him only condemned him because it called for moral perfection.
Despite the condemnation, God sent a perfect substitute, “…but that the world through Him might be saved”. The purpose of the law was to show us we are condemned already in need of a perfect sacrifice, “ Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith”, Galatians 3:24. We were held captive by the law until a deliverer came to our rescue.
There is nothing wrong with law, it is good and serves its purpose, however it has no ability to justify (save), “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh”, Romans 8:3.
“A sinner must see how the Law of God totally condemns him as a sinner, and then the beauty of the Gospel, the glory of the cross, the marvelous power of Christ’s blood will be able to penetrate his anxious, waiting mind and heart. Only by the preaching of the Law can a man fully desire to be saved from his sin”, Keith Green. The law giver was the law keeper that He might justify the law breakers (condemned). Blessings Ev