The Lawful Use Of The Law
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,
2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,
6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,
7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.
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.
- Introduction – In late spring or early summer of AD 58 Paul the Apostle was taken into custody by Roman soldiers in Jerusalem, after being beaten nearly to death by a mob of Jewish zealots at the temple (Acts 21:30-39). This began a nearly 6 year process of trials, imprisonment and extradition from Jerusalem to Rome.
After 6 years in custody, Paul was temporarily released from—what had become—house arrest in Rome. He, with one of his closest co-laborers, Timothy, journeyed east from Rome to visit the churches that Paul had previously had a hand in planting in Asia Minor, Galatia, Macedonia and Greece.
While visiting the Church in Ephesus, Paul urged Timothy to remain there to Pastor a church that was in conflict.
It was a church (like every church) battling problems. And Timothy was now the pastor. Therefore Paul writes this letter of exhortation and encouragement to the young pastor.
- And Paul’s word here before us today, “we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully.”
- Why is Paul even saying this?
- There were some in the church at Ephesus, where Timothy was now the pastor, that were “desiring to be teachers of the Law” but they were causing more harm than good.
- In the verses just prior to this Paul gives a test for right and wrong doctrinal teaching (or a right and wrong use of the Law).
- Wrong preaching and teaching produces controversial speculation and meaningless disputes. Such instruction does not result in godly edification.
- Right preaching and teaching leads to godly edification and produces love, from a pure heart, from a good conscience and a sincere faith.
- Point 1 — False teachers and false teaching are known by their fruit.
- What are the outcomes? “Wisdom is justified by her children.”
- So there is a right and wrong way to preach and teach the contents of this Book called the Bible.
- This is really important!
- The “some” that Timothy was contending with in Ephesus were teaching from the same material. They had the same Law that Timothy did. By this time they may also have had a gospel account or two. Paul’s previous letters were already (by this time) being copied and circulated as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). The sources were the same. So this informs us that…
- From the same source material differing and even contrary conclusions can be drawn and doctrines taught.
- And of course this is why we have one of the objections to Christianity that we do in 2017. Maybe you’ve heard it. Maybe you’ve had it!
- Objection — “Followers of Bible have done some pretty deplorable things over the last 2,000 years. This is a Book of deplorable ideas for a basket of deplorable people. What about the atrocities Christians have committed over the centuries?”
- Like it or not, this is a valid criticism and objection.
- Now, often times it is a red herring (a distraction from the main point).
- And it’s really low hanging fruit (because I probably wouldn’t have to look to far in your family tree to find some pretty deplorable characters. Shall I judge you by your second cousin’s, great uncle’s, great, great, great grandfather?) … (and the alternatives are no bright shining utopias!)
- But this objection validates point 2…
- Point 2 — Bad teaching can lead to really BAD consequences.
- Both temporal (i.e. here on earth) and (more importantly) eternal (in eternity) consequences.
- From this Book minorities have been oppressed and groups held as slaves. Racism has been promulgated. People have been condemned, put to death, and wars waged.
- But this same blessed Book has brought the emancipation of slaves and minorities. It has resulted in orphanages, hospitals, universities, and countless charities being established.
- These drastically different outcomes make it very clear that it’s not the book itself … it’s the way in which this book is taught.
- By this book some are compelled to oppress, judge, hate, fight and kill.
- By the same book others are compelled to serve, give, love and go to help strangers cleanup and rebuild their lives after devastating floods.
- Virtually everything in this world can be used for good or for bad. Sex, fire, the internet, atomic power, the list could go on and on with out end.
- So how you use this book—or how those who teach you use it—is of essential importance.
- Therefore, Paul writes…
- 1 Timothy 1:8 ~ But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,
- We know this? How do we know this?
- We know this innately!
- We know it innately because we’ve been created by God, in His image. And because He is just, therefore we have deep moral inclinations. We like the law but only if the law is used justly.
- The law is good IF one uses it lawfully.
- That’s a big IF.
- IF we lived in a society that had a law, but those in power didn’t follow it. Like if they legislated that we use a certain form of healthcare, but didn’t themselves us it. We might not like that.
- Or IF we lived in a society where we had legal protections of privacy, and against illegal search and seizure, but then those in power could capture all our emails and private messages. We might have a problem with that.
- Or IF there was one kind of justice for one group, and another kind of justice for another group. We’d be pretty mad.
- Just saying…
- The law is good…
- Not all laws on the books are good laws.
- Illinois: No “fancy” bike riding
- Connecticut: Pickles must bounce
- Georgia: Can’t eat fried chicken with utensils
- California: It’s illegal for animals to mate within 1500 feet of a school or place of worship.
- But Paul’s not talking about dumb laws in Georgia or California. He’s talking about the Law given in the Scriptures.
- The Law of Scripture is good if it is used lawfully.
- Point 3 — Good teachers use the good law in a good way to produce good outcomes.
- Which raises 3 good questions…
- What is the bad way (or wrong way) to use the law?
- What is the good way (or right way) to use the law?
- What is the good outcome of the good use of the law?
- 1 Timothy 1:9 ~ knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person,
- You need to know this… The law was not made for a righteous person.
- You cannot use the law correctly if you don’t know that…
- God didn’t give His law for good people.
- And He didn’t give His law to make people good.
- If you don’t know these important truths then you’ll preach and teach the good law in a bad way.
- And how many people have been turned off from church by a preacher or a church that says…
- You’re not good enough to come here…
- Or, You can’t stay here if you don’t do x, y and z.
- I’d be surprised if there weren’t quite a few of you here today that didn’t—at one point or another—attend a church that presented the law in that bad way.
- I want you all to know … this is a place for the unrighteous. And we’re not here because we’re good. We’re here because we need a savior.
- It’s really important that you understand, you don’t have to be a preacher to teach these wrong things.
- How many Christians live their lives with a “holier than thou” mentality? And teach with their lives that “I’m better than you, because I keep the law?” Or, “I can’t be around you because you’re not good enough.” Or “Your kids can’t hang with my kids, because they’re not good enough?” Or, “You can’t come over here during the holidays, because you’re a sinner and I’m a saint.”
- How many people are turned away from Jesus because the Christian they know is a “righteous person.” They never make it to church because the church goers are the obstacles.
- Point 4 — Don’t preach bad law by your fake good life.
- Did we stumble into pharisaism?
- The author of this book was formerly a self-righteous pharisee. If anyone knew the improper use of the law, it was Paul the Apostle, who once (as Saul the Pharisee) considered himself blameless and righteous according to the law (Philippians 3:6).
- 1 Timothy 1:9-10 ~ 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,
- The law was made “for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane…”
- The law was made for sinners. And not to make them righteous. It was made to make them painfully aware of their sinfulness. And acutely aware of their need for a Savior. Which is why the formerly self-righteous Pharisee, turned apostle would write…
- Romans 3:20 ~ Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
- Romans 7:7 ~ What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”
- Point 5 — The Law properly presented produces conviction of sin.
- Romans 3:19 ~ Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
- The law reveals our guilt before the Holy God and readies us for the remedy. It prepares us for the gospel.
- Galatians 3:24 ~ Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
- Therefore, the law was made “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, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.”
- The law is intended to bring conviction of sin. But there’s a problem.
- We don’t like conviction. Well, we love the conviction of others. That’s why you’ll come to church and hear a challenging, convictingmessage and instantly think, “Oh, my husband needs to hear this. I hope he’s listening.” Or “I should send this message to my co-worker.” We love to see other people convicted. But we hate to be convicted ourselves. So we will do everything we can to make ourselves look good by keeping some laws, and make other people look bad with other laws, but try as hard as we possibly can to stay out of the exposing light of the Law ourselves. And that is a misuse of the law.
- If you come to church and your challenged and convicted, that’s a good thing. Because the Law’s conviction leads you to the gospel’s grace.
- 1 Timothy 1:11 ~ according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
- NLT ~ or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.
- The Law properly presented produces conviction of sin pointing to the saving glorious gospel message of our sin bearing Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Now our culture does not like passages like this. This is one of those passages that is politically incorrect and culturally out of step because it says “The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality.” And in 21st century culture, these things are common and accepted. So since their common and accepted, how dare I say they’re wrong.
- Well, dare I say it’s wrong to practice sexual immorality and homosexuality because Scripture says its wrong to do so.
- And listen, you’re free to do these things as much as you want. But God’s free to say you can’t do these things and go to heaven.
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ~ Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
- That’s the bad news of the law. And the point is conviction. It’s supposed to get under your skin. It’s supposed to ruffle your feathers.
- Some in our day are pulling back from sound doctrine. Lessening the punch of the law, because of the fear of man. But in-so-doing they’re no longer using the law lawfully.
- The proper preaching of the Scriptures brings conviction, pointing us to the gospel. So, Paul goes on in 1 Corinthians 6…
- 1 Corinthians 6:11 ~ And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
- Some of you were sexually immoral. Some of you were adulterers. Some of you practiced homosexuality. Some of you were thieves and covetous. Some of you were drunks and slanderers and swindlers. And that’s your testimony. It’s in your past, and that’s just fine. But it should no longer be apart of your present or your future.
- So I point you finally to where we’re going next week…
- 1 Timothy 1:15 ~ This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
- If you identify with the list of lawlessness and sin here in 1 Timothy, the law and the gospel are for you. Jesus came to save sinners. Those convicted by the law, find their rescue in Jesus. He’s calling to you today!