Image courtesy Stuart Miles @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
So, Paul’s 1 Timothy 1:8 statement about “lawful use of the Law” is rather intriguing in light of current disagreement over what is the proper place of the OT legal code in Christianity.
Of course, when the immediate view is expanded to include v 9-10, it becomes apparent that Paul said the Law was given not for the just, but for the lawless, disobedient, ungodly, sinners, etc… In other words, these rules were intended (at least in part) to bring order to an unregenerate society that would surely destroy itself without them.
Me: The Law highlights the fact that human beings are sinners who tend to do things that are contrary to God’s nature. We need outside help because our natural, internal moral compass doesn’t work so well.
This also brought to mind Jesus’ Matthew 7:21-23 declaration that there would be many who one day would come to Him with both recognition of accountability and lists of things they believe should gain them sure reward and welcome into His presence.
Only…it doesn’t work. And He said He will dismiss them with what I believe is the most terrifying sentence in all of scripture; “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Workers of lawlessness. But good deeds done in His name don’t count?
This gets more interesting when we consider that Jesus’ audience included Jewish religious teachers who adamantly claimed to love GOD, to honor the Mosaic Law, and had a thing for making even more rules to ensure that they looked extra good.
These people had Guidelines. Structure. Order. Religiously enforced. And they had penalties for breaking prescribed ordinances.
They were Law Keepers….right?
They were the false prophets, wolves and diseased trees that Jesus spoke against in Matthew 7:15-20.
Because the Mosaic code also told of a Chosen One who would come and fulfill their beloved Law in order to lift the curse attached to our inability to personally attain the perfection that is necessary to safely enter God’s presence.
They rejected their designated Law Keeper who is to be welcomed by faith in God’s goodness toward us (Matthew 5:17; John 4:39-40; Romans 3:20-26). And they led others away from the Truth, as well.
They were then warned by God Himself to repent of this stubbornly destructive, imagined sense of personal goodness. It is a very harsh-sounding reprimand, but I do believe it was actually done out of love for these people.
Me: To “keep” God’s law is not to simply follow a prescribed method of scripturally-founded ethical improvement. Neither does it involve the diligent consultation of a mutually agreed-upon set of church by-laws, for that matter. If a professing Christian is relying heavily on such things, then it is entirely possible there is still a need to attend the business of repenting of a rebellious, self-indulgent, God hating attitude.
To keep the Law is to gratefully honor the One who embodies the Spirit of the Law, has freed us from the consequences of our sin, and who now teaches us what it means to love God and others from a renewed heart, the way the Law originally outlined.
Then they said to Him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:28-29 ESV)
As this is the result of my own study, I highly recommend that readers check my references and consider my words in light of the overall message of scripture before accepting or rejecting my conclusion. Thank you.