When people look at the law of God, they can view it in one of two ways. They can either see it as a ladder or a mirror.
When People view the law of God as a ladder, they think that they can climb the ladder to God. In other words, they think that by obeying the commands of God they will come close to God. These are those who think that their good works are enough to please God.
When people view the law of God as a mirror, they look to the law and use it to reflect upon their own lives. What they see is not good. They see how they have failed to live in the ways that God prescribes. The law causes them to see their sin.
The teaching of the Bible is clear. The law is not a ladder, but a mirror. Paul wrote, “By the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).
Paul’s experience bore this out. He said, “If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet'” (Romans 7:7). Seeing his sin, Paul was drawn to the Savior.
You won’t be justified before God by climbing the ladder of works. The only way to God is to see your sin and trust in Jesus. We are “justified by faith” (Romans 5:1) not by works.