1 Timothy 1:8-11
As a believer, I am not subject to the law. The law was meant for the unrighteous, for those that do not have the law of the Spirit of God written on their hearts. The law is not a bad thing. The law has a very specific purpose for the unrepentant heart that does not know the grace of Jesus. In this passage, Paul was concerned that teachers in his day were telling people they must follow God’s law to find salvation. The law is not bad. But the law is not good for means to salvation either.
The law is good because it serves as a warning sign to the sinful heart of man. The law tells the the unbelieving heart when it is wandering outside of the good and perfect will of the Creator – much a like a speed limit sign tells the passing traveler the limits of the road’s design. The law is more than a warning sign though. It also condemns the unbelieving heart before a just God. God was gracious to give us the law when we did not have the Holy Spirit to guide us. If we ignore the law and reject the gospel, we stand condemned before God for rejecting him.
We are all created by a just and righteous God. Out of God’s character flows the very existence of goodness, right and wrong. ‘Right’ is not right because God arbitrarily chose right as better than wrong. ‘Right’ is right because it flows out of the very nature of God. It is in this essence that God is love. God did not decide that love was right and hate or apathy was wrong. God is love.
The heart of one who does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them does not grasp this truth. Romans says that the unbelieving heart cannot please God. There is no mind of Christ to convict them and there is no righteousness of Christ to pardon them. It is in this truth that we realize how important and how good the law is to unbelievers. The law reveals to the unbeliever the righteousness of God. It stands as a testimony to the character of God and it condemns the unbeliever before a holy God.
There is no way for an unbelieving heart to satisfy the righteousness of God. This is where the gospel of Christ comes in to play. The law that condemns the sinner to eternity without God was no match for Jesus, who though being 100% of what what it means to be human, was also 100% of what it means to be God. The gospel of Jesus says that when the law condemns a guilty sinner like me, Jesus acts a substitution for those who believe in him. He pays the penalty of my unrighteousness and he applies to me his righteousness. When God looks at me, he sees Christ’s righteousness and I stand uncondemned.
So then, we see that the law is good when applied to the unbelieving heart but it becomes a “strange doctrine” when the one attempts to apply it to salvation. There is only one way to be reconciled to God – through the righteousness of Jesus. Though the law will point us to this gift of God and condemn us if we reject Christ’s righteousness, the law – being ‘good’ – will never reconcile the unbelieving heart to God.
Have you heeded the warning signs of God and readily accepted the gracious gift of his righteousness? If not, there is no amount of doing good or following the law that can reconcile you to God. This is not the purpose of the law.