Picture this, there is a huge sign with an arrow on it by the side of a road pointing north. I’m driving on the road and see the sign from miles away. I keep going and finally reach the sign. As soon as I’m to the north of the sign I pull over and park.
This is what Paul is trying to convey that the Jews were doing. The law was a sign, given to them to point the way to righteousness. It was direction not destination. But as soon as they, in their own self-judgment, could justify that they were on the north side of the sign, they acted like they had arrived. They may have reached the first hilltop, but the mountain range ahead was something they could not climb on their own.
We shouldn’t bow down and worship the sign. We shouldn’t stop and take selfies showing we’ve arrived at the sign. We should pay attention to the direction the sign points.
The signs did not point to how to achieve righteousness and holiness through our own works. The signs all point to Jesus, the fulfiller of the law. You have not arrived, unless you are with Him.
The law is not a mountain to climb, it is an example/measure to show how far we are from holiness and to point the way.
No one who knows the law and is truthful can claim they have followed every command in every thought, word and deed both in what they have done and what they have left undone.
It screams for me to lay down any thoughts that I’m earning salvation in any way shape or form.