Romans 2:13 NASB
“for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.”
What is Paul doing here? Is he raising hopes for the Jew that he can follow the Law and be justified before God? Or is he being consistent with his theological argument that from the previous passage in that those who are under the Law will be judged by it. If a Jew sins and breaks the Law, they are a transgressor of the Law and guilty, short of being righteous before God. Paul continues a strong argument despite that in Jewish customs they believed that hearers of the Law and not doers were guilty before God. But Paul makes sure they understand that even by just one failing of the Law they are guilty of breaking the entire Law. What Paul is hinting at is that ALL of the Jews have been hearers and fallen short of the Law. If the Jews wished to remain consistent in their theology with God in being justified by the Law, they would not make it, they would be judged as having not fulfilled the Law in its entirety.
The reality is that if we were to be judged according to our deeds, we would be found to be so hopelessly short of the standards of God. As Paul will later address, the Law was simply a means to reflect the character of God and to show us our sin which in turn reveals our need for a savior. The Law is good, but none can live to its standards without fault. Thus the idea that its the doers of the Law who are justified earmarks anyone trying to live by the that standard as a failure. But this is good, this is place a person needs to be, recognizing that justification can only come from someone who was perfect in the Law, and fulfilled it. The Law is simply the shadow of the substance. Only one Man was able to fulfill the Law completely and not lack in any doing of it. That was Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 2:8-9 it says; “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Paul is determined to have us understand that we CANNOT attain salvation or retain it by doing good works. The Jews sought justification from God by obeying the Law, but even they fell short of it. God so desired to offer salvation as a gift not by our obedience to the Law or by good works but by faith in Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of the Law, and though Him we are justified.