Faith vs. Law…
Again, we look at the difference between righteousness through faith and Law:
“It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith. For if those who adhere to the law are the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law produces wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.” -Romans 4:13-15 NAB
Many verses later, Paul continues to talk about righteousness coming through faith, not through works. Obviously, he found this to be a very important topic, and I will try to approach it from yet another angle.
What we see here is that Paul is stating how righteousness does come through faith, but that does not mean that the Law no longer applies. First, undoubtedly, he states that it is by faith that we find righteousness; it is by faith that we are heirs to the kingdom of heaven. However, he tells us, “For the law produces wrath; but where there is no law, there is no violation.” In other words, without the Law, we would not know our wrongs.
The Law still serves a purpose in many ways. Most importantly, without the Law, we would not be guilty of anything. Without guilt, we would not need to be saved. The Law points out our wickedness and gives us a reason to seek out healing through Jesus Christ. If we do not feel the need to be reconciled with God because of our guilt, few would ever come back to Him.
As a former Protestant, I can tell you all about being saved once through faith. The doctrine from those churches clearly states that we cannot be saved by works. Many Protestants attack Catholics because they incorrectly believe that Catholics believe that works will save you. They do not save you, and nowhere has the Church taught that. There are misconceptions about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, indulgences, and other Catholic dogmas, but most of it is their misunderstanding of the Catholic faith.
Protestants believe that it takes one act of faith to find everlasting salvation. Catholics believe that salvation is a path, and that it is something we can hope for, but not one of us can truly say that we will be saved. We acknowledge the Law (like in this verse) and realize that our shortcomings separate us from God. Through faith, however, we can find righteousness and bring ourselves back to Christ. And, it is through our works, as an act of faith, that we will get there.
Seek to live a faithful life because it is the true path to righteousness, but do not forget about the Law set down before us. Let the Law guide you to living a more Christ-like life and one fully devoted to God.