August 5, 2107
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 1 Timothy 1:8 (NIV)
The apostle Paul is telling us in this verse:
- The law is good.
- You have to use it properly.
That means there are improper (as well as proper) uses of the law. Here are two things that the law was never meant to do:
- Don’t use the law to justify yourself
That’s what the rich young ruler did. When Jesus recited the commandments: “Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Honor your father and mother,” he said, “I’ve kept all these since I was a boy!” (Mark 10:20). He took a superficial look at God’s law and said, “I’m good!” The law was never meant to be a ladder for climbing up to heaven.
- Don’t use the law to sanctify yourself
Some folks have the idea that Christ forgives you for your past sins, opens heaven for your future joy, and that in the middle it’s basically up to you to live a good life. So if that’s true, then the Christian life would be about finding out what the law says and doing it.
Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking: The law can tell you what to do, but it cannot give you the power to do it. The law is powerless, because it was weakened by the sinful nature (Romans 8:3). That’s the problem with all legalism and moralism. The gospel does not bring us forgiveness, heaven, and the law. It brings us forgiveness, heaven, and the Holy Spirit. And it is the Spirit who sanctifies, not the law.
When have you recently felt tempted to misuse God’s law?