Because we are incapable of achieving the righteousness defined by God’s Law, one of its main functions is to convict us of sin (Romans 3:20). Our natural consciences are dull (verse 12); we do not recognise the full extent of our own failure. But God sees it all, and as we open up our hearts to the searchlight of His Word, we discover the need to confess our sins and seek His forgiveness.
To a large extent we can control our behaviour; but our innermost thoughts and feelings are another matter, and there is no hiding-place from God’s scrutiny. He sees my hatred as clearly as an act of murder (Matthew 5:21,22), and my lust as plainly as the commission of adultery (Matthew 5:27,28). On the Day of Judgement, our thoughts will be ‘used as evidence’ in the same way as our deeds (I Corinthians 4:5).
“I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) It should be obvious that we cannot even approach the high standard that is required of us; we cannot make ourselves clean both inside and out. If I am to be worthy of a holy God, I need His help. And so I share in David’s prayer:
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in Your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (verse 14)