For it is not those who merely hear the Law [as it is read aloud] who are just or righteous before God, but it is those who [actually] obey the Law who will be justified [pronounced free of the guilt of sin and declared acceptable to Him].
All who have sinned without knowledge of the Law will die without reference to the Law; and all who have sinned knowing the Law shall be judged according to the Law. It is not familiarity with the Law that justifies a man in the sight of God, but obedience to it.
He will punish sin wherever it is found. He will punish the heathen when they sin, even though they never had God’s written laws, for down in their hearts they know right from wrong. God’s laws are written within them; their own conscience accuses them, or sometimes excuses them. And God will punish the Jews for sinning because they have his written laws but don’t obey them. They know what is right but don’t do it. After all, salvation is not given to those who know what to do, unless they do it.
If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely. Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.
For it is not the Shomei HaTorah (hearers of the Law of Moshe Rabbeinu) who are the tzaddikim who are accounted to be YITZDAK IM HASHEM ("justified with G-d" IYOV 25:4). It is the Shomrei HaTorah (the keepers of the Torah) who will be counted to be YITZDAK IM HASHEM.
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