Meditations on 1 Timothy
“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers - and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God which He entrusted to me.” I Timothy 1:8-11, NIV
God’s law IS good. It is good simply because it comes from God. All things which God created and all things that come from Him are good. Even from the beginning of time, when God created the world, this truth is evidenced through Genesis 1:31, “And God saw all that He had made and it was very good.”
Why then, does Paul say, “we know that the law is good if one uses it properly.” First, remember who etched the 10 Commandments on the initial set of stone tablets? The answer, of course, is God.
However, although God gave us the law, we are not prevented from attempting to distort and abuse that that which God made good. This is what the Pharisees were doing at the time of Jesus. They abused the law as a legalistic means to focus the Jews on works rather than grace in order to thwart the message of Christ.
God did not give us the law that we may capitalize or profit from it. Nor did He give us the law to stand in judgement against one another or engage in pride or self-righteousness. To do so, would be an improper use of the law. Instead, God has given us the law that it might go well for us. He gave us the law to help restrain us from sin and hence protect us from harm. It is for this very reason that the law is good.
It is also for this reason that the law is not made for the righteous person but for the sinful one. Here, is where I stand up out of my chair and start cheering. Praise the Lord that this law is for sinners like me. It makes weights fall off my shoulders and breath come back into my lungs. Why? Because I do not need to be perfect to inherit eternal life. Nor do I need to be a perfect keeper of the law through my own righteousness to earn salvation.
Who is righteous? “None is righteous, no; not one (Romans 3:10).” This truth, sober as it may be, is not meant to depress or discourage but to give hope. How? Because there Is no one who is beyond the grace of God and there is nothing we have done that can separate us from His love. Praise the Lord that our salvation does not rest in our own righteousness but relies solely upon God’s grace.
Paul goes on to refer to the doctrine governing the law as ”sound.” “…sound doctrine that conforms to the glory of the blessed God which He entrusted me.” Knowing that our doctrine is sound fills me with such safety and security. According to Siri, one of the definitions of “sound” means “in good condition, not damaged, injured, or diseased.” In other words, we need not fear that we are believing in something that will fail or crumble. It is not a test that is only within the “clinical trial” stage. It is proven. It is firm. It is true.
But what is it that makes this doctrine sound? It is sound because it conforms to the glory of the blessed God. I love this word “conforms.” It means, “Comply with rules, standards, or laws.” In other words, our sound doctrine is grounded in the very character of God. It reflects the revelation and mystery of Christ revealed. In this way, we possess every confidence that this doctrine which we believe is sound.
The final question I wish to leave us is quite simple. Do we see the gospel as in the eyes of Paul, one with which we are entrusted? Just as God has entrusted us, parents, with the precious gift of our children, Paul has been entrusted with the precious gospel of Christ. When we use this word entrusted it connotes a designation of great responsibility for something precious or of great worth. Do we feel this way about our Lord and the Word of God? If we do, are we communicating the Word of God with the same kind of vigor and urgency as Paul? Why or why not? May our perspective of the Lord and His Word be one which communicates to everyone just how much we treasure Him. Likewise, let us also be fueled with a great passion to convey the message of Christ to all whom will hear.