Unlawful Law

Very often we emphasize love with those not apart of a church and rules with those in the church.

We may have some of this backwards…

Love should always be a part of our message and our lifestyle. Obedience and right lifestyle does set us apart…

Paul said something to Timothy which caught my eye the other day.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane,…” (1 Timothy 1:8-9)

Paul always was an advocate for the law being good, but this verse seems to imply it can be used in an unhealthy manner.

He clearly says the law is not for the “just” (meaning believers or those walking in faith), but for those outside the church.

If we were to look at most of our interactions as believers today, it would seem we have reversed this.

Believers are hounded with rules, challenges to obedience, and lists and lists of moral imperatives.

Yes, we do need to include this in our lives. But the law was never meant to deal with “the just”. The just have already met God’s standard, we do not need to climb a ladder to prove ourselves as is often implied in challenging sermons.

By Austin Ban
By Austin Ban

The Law was meant to:
– Reveal the God we serve and what He values
– Reflect a holy standard and picture of the direction we want to walk towards in our daily life
– Be a loving response as we encounter the God of Grace.

The law has great value for “the just.”

Perhaps, the lawful use of the law Paul is referring to may relate more to unbelievers.

Yes, we love them. Yes, we welcome them. We embrace them in their brokenness.

I recently heard Jud Wilhite say he has a banner at his church which reads, “It’s OK not to be OK.”

I agree. Jesus welcomed people in need.

But at some point, the Law must show us a need for God.

The Law is meant to reveal our inability to meet the standard of God in our own strength. In short, one of the desired outcomes of the Law is to create a sense of failure in us. Then, and only then, will we turn towards God and put our faith in Him.

A few thoughts for us:

Are we guilty of misusing the Law for believers, making it a requirement rather than a response.

For the just, Jesus met the requirement, we received it by faith. Now we respond to his grace because we have it, not to earn it.

Are we equally guilty of “only” loving and welcoming unbelievers? 

We must not be afraid to help people embrace their brokenness so they can ultimately receive the grace of God, receiving both forgiveness and acceptance.

Let’s employ all the tools God has given us. Love. Welcome. Embrace. And the Lawful use of the Law.

One response to “Unlawful Law”

  1. You hit the nail right on the head. There is a lot of erroneous teaching out there about the believer’s relationship to The Law. For example, John Mac Arthur teaches that Christ has set us free from the ceremonial law. (He is not the only one who teaches this.) I can think of a lot of people who were already free from the ceremonial law — Gentiles. It never applied to them. ( Or to unbelievers, for that matter.)