Teachers of the Law without Understanding

1 Timothy 1:1-11

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy, my true child in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

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.

In order to lawfully use the Law, one must understand its origin. It comes from the Lord and carries his authority. The Law contains not the suggestions of the King. No, it contains his commands.

To lawfully use the Law, one must understand its immutability. God changes not, and neither does his ethical standard. Sure, there are temporary political and ecclesiastical laws found in Scripture (Civil and Ceremonial), but his Moral law is fixed for the ages. Therefore, God still condemns the insubordinate, sexually immoral, abuser, liar, etc.

One lawfully uses the Law when one understands its weight. It contains not the suggestions of the King. No, the Law of God is made up of the commands of the Sovereign One. To those who submit and obey, unfathomable blessings are promised. To those who rebel, hell is deserved.

Therefore, to lawfully use the Law, one must understand its horror — its terrible proclamation.

Because there is no one who keeps any law internally and externally, and because there is no one who keeps every jot and tittle of God’s Law, and because there is none who keeps any law according to both the spirit and the letter, and because there is no one who keeps any law perfectly and without flinching …

And because there is no one who keeps every law in this manner, all are declared lawless, disobedient, ungodly, sinful, unholy, and profane.

Sure, religious law may declare men to be good, but such ministers and congregants are adherents of the Law without understanding.

Sure, societal laws and norms may proclaim some to be good, but such individuals are naïve optimists who hold to the Law but without understanding.

You see, God’s Law only declares good men to be good, and according to God’s review, “there is no one good, no not one” — no, not your minister; no, not your child; no, not your parents; no not your, and certainly not me. As Paul said, the “Law is not laid down for the just,” for there are no just practitioners of the God’s will and rules. All are lawless, disobedient, ungodly, sinful, holy, and profane. 

However, when one lawfully use the Law, one flees from it to the Gospel. Yes, God’s good Law encourages everyone to humbly and desperately scream, “Is there not another way? Is there not some other way in which I might be reconciled and acceptable to the Sovereign King? Is there not some means whereby I might enjoy and glorify God?” And this takes the wise penitent to the all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ.

The Law lawfully describes Jesus; how he lusted, thought, talked, and lived.

The Law lawfully describes why Jesus suffered and died. On behalf of his church, in place of his church, Jesus was declared to be lawless, disobedient, ungodly, sinful, unholy, and profane. He was then treated as such by his Heavenly Father.

The Law lawfully describes that which his children are declared to be. Because the Perfect Son clothed his bride with his robe or righteousness, lawful is what God sees us to be.

Finally, to lawfully use the Law, one sees it as the play-book for how to best enjoy and glorify our King. It still contains true-truth regarding the will of our Heavenly Father. Therefore, consistently, we read, review ourselves, repent, and recommit. Every day we see our standard, see our sin, see our Savior, and set forth afresh to walk in his power and according to his model and will.

We don’t hate the Law — for that would be to unlawfully think of the Law.

We don’t dismiss the Law — for that too would be unlawful.

We don’t for a moment think we can perfectly keep the Law — for that is ludicrous.

However, we can’t ignore it, for as we meditate upon it day and night, it trains our mind to think after God’s

Brothers and sisters, let’s go worship today and use the law lawfully.

Let the Law drive you to the Gospel, and do it with your lawless friends. You do not have to look pretty to go to church. Your God knows you well. He has already died for all your transgressions. Go see the one who loves you more than you love yourself. You do not have to gravel into his presence. He sees you as a saint. You are beautiful to your Father because you are clothed in Christ’s gorgeous garment of righteousness. He waits to see you today. He waits to remind you of his love. He wants to encourage you; would you miss out?

Let the Gospel lead you lovingly back to the Law. God waits to instruct you with his good Word. He sees that you long to look more like him and love our neighbors properly, and his continuing education is available.

Together, let’s use the Law and Gospel lawfully. Let’s enjoy and glorify him who lived, died, and lives for us.


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