Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
There was a law, and it was good. It was so good that King David loved it like honey in a world free of Faygo red pop and Ski. The Law was good because it was God telling people how He wanted them to live, and how to establish order in their new land. The Law was good because unlike all of the capricious gods of the surrounding lands, the God of Israel was steadfast and even played by His own rules.
But the Law didn’t save anybody. The Law pointed out what was right and wrong, but didn’t give anyone the power to do the right thing. The Law gave people the power to judge wisely when someone broke the Law, but only the fear the punishment inspired could keep people from breaking it.
If at any point someone wandered from obedience and broke one of the Laws, they showed that they were incapable of keeping the whole Law. The whole law consisted of 613 different instructions that ranged from not praying to gold statues to what kind of clothing to wear with other clothing. Just like God promised in the books of that Law, He sent one to come and suffer the punishment we all deserved. Once Jesus died on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice, the prophet Habakkuk would be proven true when he said [“The righteous will live by faith.” Habakkuk 2:4](
By faith in Christ, we receive righteousness. We receive the stamp of God’s approval that we are alright by faith in Jesus. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Law of “do this or do that,” because Paul says it is righteousness apart from the Law. Jesus didn’t invent a new law by which righteousness is now measured. He fulfilled and completed the Law, so that now it is by faith in Christ we are made Holy and righteous.
Note also that it isn’t holier or more righteous. We are made Holy, period. We are made righteous, period. All of this was accomplished in Jesus’ life, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.