We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. 1 Timothy 1:8-11 (NIV).
Yesterday’s verse talked about using the law properly? How is that done? How is it that the later verses talk about how law is about sin, about those mired in sin instead of love? Let’s key in on the last verse: “for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God.” If we forget this part, then it’s too easy to simply use God’s law as a hammer.
Think about God’s law like civil law. If I abide by the speed limit on the road then the police have no reason to pull me over. If I don’t murder, steal, or commit arson then I won’t be charged with murder, theft, or arson. Our civil laws are guidelines, boundaries that state what behaviors are not allowed in society. They’re written codes with consequences, so that we might live as a society in peace. They’re written so that we might know what kinds of things threaten our liberty.
Yet that’s only half of it. The law wasn’t given so that we would focus on what we shouldn’t do. It was given to us so that we would focus on He who is love, who is the loving end of all justice.
God’s law is sound doctrine given out of His love. Jesus, who Himself perfectly kept all of God’s law without a single transgression, said He had come to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. Should we doubt Him? Would the God of all love say something like that if He didn’t mean it, if the law was only given to hammer our sins? Absolutely not. We of the New Covenant aren’t governed by the punishments and penalties of the Mosaic laws yet we are still subject to the boundaries they established if only as means to identify when we are in danger of sin. Helping each other through that is the mark of a heart renewed in love. It’s why God gave us the law while we live in this fallen world. So that we would know how we need to draw closer to Him.
For further reading: Romans 6:29, Romans 7:4-12, Matthew 22:37-40, Galatians 5:23, 2 Timothy 1:13, Titus 1:9, 1 Timothy 1:12
Lord, help me understand how Your ancient law affects and applies to me now so that I may know You better.