The Law

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

What is the law?

The Apostle Paul was a highly educated man, so it is understood that he was talking about the Old Law here, the Judaic norms, practices, etc.  This is an interesting passage though because of the phrase “the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels…”

It is fairly well understood as well as in my observation that the law was instituted so man would understand that he could never live up to the righteousness necessary to be in God’s presence.  The law’s purpose was to convict the people in their hearts of their need for grace.

 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Romans 7:4-6

So Paul, again, was writing that striving for obedience to the law only bore “fruit for death.”  Why is that?  If the law is God-given, isn’t it holy and just?  How could attempting to adhere to it cause “sinful passions” to be aroused?

Paul goes on and states:

I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead.

Romans 7:7-8

Is Paul saying that he would not have known how to sin or what was a sin if it were not for the law?

So is the law there to bind our behavior?

Imagine a metaphor.  As a father, I have to lay down rules of behavior for my children.  My children, before these rules are laid down would just go on not knowing that anything they were doing was “wrong” in my eyes.  The rules I laid out were designed to constrain certain behavior, but they did not put an end to it.  Rather, they provide a guideline for them – if you do X, you will be punished.  This doesn’t mean that such behavior is instantly curtailed, but rather they test the limits of this new rule in any number of ways.  They also do their best to get away with the behavior and hope that they don’t get caught.  How are we any different as children of God?

If the law is meant for the ungodly, then it is meant for people that are spiritual infants at best.  They need direction on how to be and how to act.  They need that direction that touching something hot will mean you get burned so don’t touch it.

Does this excuse the rest of us that have come by faith to Christ and mean that sin is no longer an issue for us because the law no longer binds us?  Not at all.  If you take Christ’s commands to love your neighbor as yourself and love God with all of your heart, mind, and soul, then you will act in accordance with the law of God without needing the law to convict you daily.  Instead of striving to obey the law, you will strive to love fully, and by doing so you will fulfill the law as Christ did with his death and resurrection.

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1 Comment

  1. Well done – a new law if you will

    Reply

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