A couple of weeks ago we considered the Wrong use of the Law. This time we took on the other side of the issue. How is the Law to be used in the New Testament Church? As the Apostle Paul instructs the pastor, Timothy, charging him to stop false teachers from corrupting the church he tells him this,
1 Timothy 1:7-11 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.
Although there is an issue in the church with putting people under legalistic restrictions and Paul wants to confront that issue, that does not mean that we should throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is a proper use for God’s moral commands and the Apostle says that it is to used, not with righteous people, but with sinners. I think that the most amazing phrase in this passage is in verse 11,
…according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God…
According to the Gospel, the law is to be used in the confrontation of sinners and the Apostle gives us a typical laundry list of behaviors that he classifies as sin. Notice that there are extremes like murder and sexual sin that are included with others that we would consider less sinful such as lying. According to the standard of God, there is no difference. The problem here is common in the church, probably more so than the legalism that we discussed last time. Not calling sin, sin is the result of the culture telling the church how to think about things. Certainly the average “sinner” does not want to consider himself as such. But sin is the human problem.
Sin is THE problem that humanity has more than any other. All other problems have sin as their source either directly or indirectly. Unless and until we come to grips with it we will never see our need for the Savior. Speaking to the Ephesian Church at another time the Apostle reminded them of where they had come from and how they had gotten there;
Ephesians 2:1-5 And you, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
He tells the Romans after two chapters of educating them about the nature and origin of sin;
Romans 3:19-20 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. 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.
If this is the case and God has given us the tool to bring the knowledge of sin and bring conviction over it, if Paul says that it is so, “according to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God,” then to leave this tool unused in our preaching of the Gospel is to mistrust God’s judgment and consider ourselves smarter than He. Author Ian Murray says in an article on Puritan, Thomas Hooker‘s understanding of conversion, “If repentance means turning one’s back upon sin, and if conversion entails turning from sin to holiness, no one is going to see the need for such a change who has not first felt sin to be a burden. Faith is more than reason but it is not irrational. It is a response to truth, and where faith is not the act of a person who understands his need of the saving power of Christ it is not scriptural faith.” And so, it is our responsibility to use the Law to bring conviction of sin in order that men will see their need of the Savior.
This is the way to love people. This is the way to bring rebels to reconciliation with a Holy God. The alternative is to leave them to their destruction and that is not love.
You can listen to the audio of this study by clicking on the link below.
The Right Use of the Law – AUDIO