Romans 9:31 - 32
ESV - 31 But that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone.
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I would say that the point that Paul was making was a contrast between the Gentiles and Jews with respect to how salvation was to be gained. Because God gave the Law to Israel through Moses, the Jews had adopted a works-based approach to salvation, in which the attainment of eternal life was based on obedience to the commandments of the Law. This was despite the fact that other passages in the Old Testament (such as Habakkuk 2:4, as also cited by Paul in Romans 1:17) made the point that it was not human works that lead to salvation and eternal life, but faith. In addition (as Paul pointed out in passages such as Romans 3:20 and Galatians 3:16), attempting to attain salvation by obeying the Law was futile (or, as Paul referred to it, a "stumbling stone") because no human was capable of the perfect obedience that it required. In fact, the function of the Law was precisely to make that clear to people, and to convict them of the fact they were all sinners, and could only receive salvation through faith, rather than works. By contrast, Gentiles, who had not been exposed to the Law and its requirements, found it easier to accept the concept of salvation being granted by grace on the basis of faith alone, with good works then following as evidence of the salvation that had already been received.
The Law (the Ten Commandments) was given to all mankind. Jesus did not intend for there to be two types of people. His plan was for all of us to believe in and have trust and faith in Him. Works will not save us. What will save us is for us to strive to become Christlike. Of course one can't reach that goal with sin in our world. Jesus died to save us. That does not mean that we are free to forget Him. Remember there are two commandments: One to love our Creator, and one to love our fellow man. In those two, the law is covered.
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