Saturday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Timothy 1:6-11

The Law Is for Lawbreakers, Naturally

So “the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith,” Paul tells Timothy.  But some in Ephesus, “swerving from these, have wandered into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.”  From the best we can tell, it seems that in the church at Ephesus were people who decided to trade the gospel for some form of law-keeping; moreover, they enjoyed discussions in which they quibbled over its details in a vain attempt to display knowledge, which was in fact only gross ignorance.

What then is the purpose of the law now that Christians live under the new covenant?  There are basically three main purposes of the law, Mosaic or otherwise.  The first purpose of the law and perhaps most obvious is to order society.  If men were angels, we would need no law.  But men are not angels; thus, we must have law.  This is the plain teaching of Romans 13:1-7.  The governing authorities are appointed by God and to resist them is to incur judgment; they do not bear the sword in vain.  It is a great blessing to live in a nation of law and order, where one may go to sleep at night without worry of being violated.  We might say that the first purpose of law is a matter of “common grace”; that is, it is a benefit which God gives to all—the righteous and wicked alike.  The second purpose of the law is to drive people to the cross.  Romans 7:7-25 shows us that though the law is “holy and righteous and good,” sin in me seizes upon the law for the purpose of breaking it, such that I finally cry out in desperation, “Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  The answer, of course, is Christ and him alone.  One may find a similar teaching in Galatians 3:19-25: “The law was our guardian until Christ came.” 

Is there a purpose for the law upon our rebirth?  Yes, but only as a means of examining ourselves that we may search our hearts and confess our sins.  But ultimately the law is really not for Christians.  Who is it for?  For lawbreakers, Paul answers, and provides a representative list.  As Christians have the Spirit living within them, they are people who do not need the written code as they have the law written on their hearts.  They do better than the law, as Christ indicated: They not only do not murder; they do not harbor hate.  They not only do not commit adultery; they forsake lust and even the appearance of evil (Matthew 5-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:22).  But there will always be those who feel “safer” with a written code.  What a pity!

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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