1 Timothy 1, Psalm 108


Since Christianity's beginning, there have been many disputes concerning the proper role of the law in the believer's life. Complicating this discussion is the lack of consensus on how one uses the word “law”. For some use that word as shorthand for the laws found in the Torah (i.e. Genesis-Numbers), while others use it for any command meant to obeyed by Christians today. One verse seems to demonstrate the law has a vital place for Christians is found in 1 Timothy 1:8 where it says, “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.” So there it is. If we just use the law correctly, then it is good for us. This one verse would be a great object lesson for the problem in quoting a sentence without understanding the paragraph. For Paul immediately follows by telling us that those needing the law are murderers, even those who murder their parents, the sexually immoral, and slave traders. So, it seems that the law might not be for Christians after all, at least not the Christians many of us know. Again, we shouldn't be so hasty. For Paul makes clear that he was formerly a blasphemer and violent, for indeed he was a murderer of Christians. Prior to Paul's conversion, the law demonstrated Paul's need of a savior. So, yes the law (Old Testament) has a purpose in demonstrating the unrighteousness of the sinner, and in helping us comprehend Christ's work. These purposes do not cease the moment we believe, for the laws of God shows the righteousness of God. This is true whatever one means by the word “law”, for none of us keeps even the New Testament commands. Let me land this plane and briefly address questions about the laws use in leading us to actually obey. Whatever we think about the law's place in believers lives' (here I mean the commands found in the New Testament), Paul makes clear there is a way of life, and a set of doctrines that conforms to the Gospel (1 Timothy 1:11). All of us can can acknowledge the Gospel makes demands upon us greater than any law can mandate (see Galatians 5:18,22). Perhaps this is what a later author would mean about laws written upon our hearts (Hebrews 10:16). For the Gospel centers our hearts on Christ, and his demands though great, are worth following all the way home.