Rom 4:14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect,15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
“This contract is null and void.” Have you ever heard that before? Well what does it really mean? Null and void is an idiom that means “without legal force or effect; not valid, having no force-binding power or validity.” Anything that is null or void is in the simplest terms useless!!! So what does this have to do with today’s verse; we see in verse 14 that faith is made void and the promise made of no effect…but WHY?
Romans 4 talks about Abraham being justified (rendered, declared or pronounced righteous) by faith and not by any works or efforts of his own. The same justification was given to all of Abraham’s heirs (one who receives his allotted possession by right of sonship); which includes you and me (or does it). Justification is a gift that we all desire and this chapter helps us understand how we can receive it. BY FAITH!!! Which simply means it is not what we do to receive it, but what Jesus already did…on the Cross! So what happens if faith is effected??
The text says For if those who are of the law are heirs, Those who are OF the law; the Greek word OF is (ek) which means out of, from, by, away from. So if those who are out of the Law; from the Law; by the Law (living their lives according to the Law) are heirs then faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, or useless.
I guess it would be smart to discuss the Law; WHAT exactly is it? Well, recall the bible study rule of “Frist Mention.” This rule of study is simple, if you want to know the original meaning of a word or concept then see where it was first mentioned in the bible. In this case the first time we find the Law is in book of Exodus (Ex 24:12 Then the LORD said to Moses,” Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.”) The Ten Commandments, the only “Law” that was written on tablets of stone; and these were created by God Himself. This is important because in certain other verses of scripture and in Jewish history the Law refers to the many Levitical laws created by the priest…not God.
OK we know that faith is made void and the promise made of no effect by those who are living according to the Law. But WHY…the text says because the law brings about wrath. Wrath in this text denotes anger exhibited in punishment, specifically punishments inflicted by magistrates (judges or those who dispense judgment). The Law given by God brings about wrath!!! How is that so? The Law was given to bring us to Christ, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. The Law showed us that we are sinners and that we need Jesus Christ for redemption. The Law was never created to justify us so it never will (Isa 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags). Filthy Rags is the best we can do when we live according to the LAW. But when we live according to FAITH we receive the all the promises given to Abraham. We become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him).