Using The Law Lawfully
A daily devotion for November 2nd
8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that 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, 10for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. (1 Timothy 1:8)
The Law is both good and useful in the Christian life. This immediately does away with the claim and misunderstanding of many Christians that we are so completely delivered from the Law that we have nothing to do with it anymore. Paul says that is not the case. The Law is good and useful, but it has to be used rightly.
The Law is good, of course, because God Himself gave it. The striking thing about the Law is that those Ten Commandments are the only part of the Bible God Himself physically wrote with His own hand. Moses did not write them; Charlton Heston did not write them! They were written by the hand of God on tablets of stone and delivered by angels to Moses on Mount Sinai. In fact, God wrote the Law twice. After the first tablets were broken, Moses returned to the mountain, and God wrote the Law again. That in itself ought to indicate that the Law is important and not to be done away with.
Furthermore, as you study those Ten Commandments, you discover that they reflect the character and holiness of God. They are an expression of the life of God, both in its outward behavior and its inward attitudes. That is why the Law never will change. The Law represents God's righteous demands for human behavior anywhere on earth. It is even written into the hearts of people who have never heard of the Ten Commandments. That is why most human laws--laws we make for the control of our behavior in city, state, and national government--are based upon, and reflect, the Ten Commandments. So the Law is not going to be done away with. Paul says it is holy, just, and good.
Further, the Law is useful. Even for us Christians, the Law has a place in our lives, Paul says,
if one uses it properly. Not everything about the Law carries over into the Christian life, but there is an appropriate use of the Law in the Christian life. Our Lord Himself indicated that in the Sermon on the Mount:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19).
Those words ought to make very clear what Paul insists on here in 1 Timothy that the Law is not eliminated. The Law will always be there because it is holy, just, and good; it reflects the character of God. So it does have a part in our Christian experience.
Lord, thank You for Your Law, which reflects Your character. Teach me to use Your Law properly, in a way that is consistent with the gospel.
Life Application: The Ten Commandments give us insight into who God is. Christ's love provides us with the motivation and the power to fulfill them. Do our lives reflect God's character?
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