As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away 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.
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, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
(1 Timothy 1:3-11 ESV)
So if the new covenant is a covenant of grace, why is there so much law teaching? This is a great question… There is probably a huge book waiting to be written to answer it… but I’m not the guy to do it… at least not yet anyway! But I will point to our passage today…
First let’s look toward the end of this passage. As always, we need to affirm that the law is GOOD. There is nothing inherently wrong with the law… it simply can’t save… nor can it be achieved.
As a matter of fact, when we preach any form of the law to believers we’re missing the point. This passage says plainly, “the law is not laid down for the just…” The NASB better translates the word dikaios… instead of just the NASB says righteous. Praise God! The law isn’t for me as a believer! No, the Spirit is teaching the believer (John 14:26)… and the Spirit brings life (2 Cor 3:6).
But the above scripture gives three reasons people swerve off course and teach the law…
Swerve from a pure heart.
The fact is there is money and power in religion. If you can get enough people to look to you for a pardon of their sins then you’ve found an extremely lucrative business! When we abandon a pure heart towards God, we are in dangerous territory.
Jesus has completed everything on my behalf… and that doesn’t make me want to abuse God’s goodness, but it puts a desire in me to please God… to love Him back. When we swerve from the desire to do what God wants, we are already starting to swerve towards the Law.
Swerve from a good conscience.
Condemnation kills. Condemnation itself means complete disapproval… as in you’re dead to me!
When we as believers accept condemnation, we are accepting no less than the lie of the enemy… that’s why he is called the, “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10 NASB). The enemy wants to get into our head about all that we do wrong. Why? Because when we focus on our sin we focus on the law… which increases sin (Romans 5:20). But when we focus on the goodness of God it allows us to overcome (Romans 2:4).
Swerve from sincere faith.
We must feed our faith. We need to constantly remind ourselves of the finished work of Jesus! That’s why Romans 12:2 says we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind… to know what is good, acceptable and finished. And what is finished? The work of Jesus on the cross to take away the sin of the world. Jesus has paid the price for your salvation… remind yourself of that! Nothing you do saves you. You can only helplessly receive the marvelous work done for you by the One who created all things!
And, by the way, renewal is an ongoing process. It never ends. If you don’t renew, you expire. So you have to keep reminding yourself of this finished work!
Believer… you are a child of God! And God loves His kids that behave and His kids that misbehave! It’s always better to behave… but it’s the best to be loved regardless!