8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:8–11, NKJV)
Why is there such resistance to law? The apostle drives to the heart of the matter: People’s sin is exposed by law. Law unmasks our sin. That is its job. The law (command) of God is “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:12). God’s law is not at fault when we sin against it. We will never be saved by law-keeping, because “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). This is why we are not justified by works (of law). We are justified “freely by His grace through the redemption that we have in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Do not make the mistake of thinking this nullifies being under law. “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). Law does its work by shining a light on sin. Sinners are called by the gospel to come to Christ to be saved. If you do not like God’s law, is may be that you prefer sin. We urge you to repent of such thinking and living, for it leads to eternal death. The “sound doctrine” of the “glorious gospel” of Christ will save you (Acts 2:37-41).
The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. (Luke 16:16, NKJV)
A dramatic shift occurred when John, the forerunner of Messiah, came on the scene. “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mk. 1:4). John proclaimed the good news of an approaching kingdom, and souls began pressing into it as they listened, learned, and “were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mk. 1:5). When Jesus began His work on earth, He preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:14-15). Jesus looked beyond the Law of Moses to the redemptive gospel of God. It is incredible to witness deceived preachers deceiving Christians into thinking that Jesus came teaching the law of Moses to the Jewish people. In today’s passage, Jesus affirms that He was not teaching Moses; He was teaching people to believe in the kingdom of God that He and His gospel brought and opened up to the whole world (Matt. 16:19, 28). Any doctrine that demands viewing Jesus as a rabbi who taught the Law of Moses instead of the gospel of the Messiah’s kingdom is false, and must be refused as the error it is.
11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile. 12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, 13 That You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked. (Psalm 94:11–13, NKJV)
To be taught by the Lord is far better than any human-conceived source of instruction. Human thoughts and teaching cannot save our souls nor equip us for the inevitable challenges to a life of faith. The “traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world” are “not according to Christ,” and therefore, futile to save us and sustain our souls (Col. 2:8). The psalmist understood this, and praised the virtue of being taught out of God’s law instead of man’s mind. “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On you I wait all the day” (Psa. 25:4-5). The teaching God gives from His truth shields us in the day of trouble. It assures us of His righteous relief against the immoral. Spend time with God’s word. Let Him teach you. God’s blessing is waiting for you there (see Jno. 6:44-45) .
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Galatians 3:1–2, NKJV)
Christ expects Christians to obey the truth. Our obedience is not meritorious; we do not earn the right to be saved in heaven through our obedience. Obedience is the natural and completing action of belief; without obedience, faith is incomplete and powerless to save (Jas. 2:17-26). Obedience to Christ is the reasonable response of observing the crucified Christ, who has been put on full display by the gospel. Like a billboard on the roadside, the gospel announces the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to the world as the means of our salvation (something the works of the law of Moses could not do). The “hearing of faith” describes the gospel, “the faith” preached by the apostles (Gal. 1:11, 23). The faith (gospel) produces personal faith, and personal faith is made complete by obeying the truth (Rom. 1:17; Heb. 5:8-9). Are you obeying the truth in faith, or are you relying on something less than the gospel and complete faith to save your soul? Live each day by faith in obedience to the truth of Jesus.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6, NKJV)
Israel had rejected the knowledge of God by forgetting the law of God. They considered God’s law to be “a strange thing” as they rushed to the altars of idols (Hosea 8:12). Please notice the effect of their rejection of knowing the law of God: God rejected them. They were headed for destruction. We, like them, have free will, with the ability to choose whether or not to know God and follow His will. But, we must realize that God will bring us into judgment when we reject knowing His truth. On the other hand, we obtain freedom from our sins by knowing the truth of Christ and abiding in His word (Jno. 8:31-32). Do not deceive yourself. You cannot be saved in heaven by rejecting God’s law here on earth. We will reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7). Implant the perfect law of liberty into your heart, be a doer of the word and be blessed (Jas. 1:21-25).
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14, NKJV)
Being under the Law of Moses only magnified the guilt of Israel’s sin (Rom. 3:19-20). Without God’s grace, sin rules and produces spiritual death. God’s grace in Christ provides escape from sin’s dominion (Rom. 6:11-13). While today’s verse magnifies the superiority of grace over sin, but it does not teach that Christians are free from living under law. We cannot do as we please because we are “not under law but under grace”. If no divine law exists to which we are accountable, then sin itself does not exist, “for where there is no law there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15). Sin, by definition, is the transgression of the law of God (1 Jno. 3:4). Furthermore, it is notable that sinners are justified “by the law of faith” (Rom. 3:27). On another occasion, the apostle clearly said we are “under law to Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21). The truth is, grace does not ignore Christ’s law. We stand in grace when we live by faith, trusting and obeying the law of Christ (Rom. 5:2; Heb. 5:8-9).
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8–10)
Love and law are not antagonists, but friendly companions. Perhaps people tend to set love and law against each other because they perceive law as the embodiment of “you shall not”. But, the same law that said “you shall not” also said “you shall” (v. 9). Law contains the proactive obedience of love toward God and toward other human beings. Hence, “law is good if one uses it lawfully” (1 Tim. 1:8). And again, “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Rom. 7:12). Love fulfills all that law requires, not out of compulsion, but out of genuine honor for the Lawgiver (1 Jno. 5:3). We are under the moral obligation to “love one another” – a commandment (law) given to us by Jesus Christ (v. 8; Jno. 13:34-35). Do no harm to your neighbor, and so fulfill God’s law of love.