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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


1 Tim 1:8-11 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men-stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Looking back at the first few verses that began Paul's letter to Timothy, we are assured that there were members of the body of Christ, in Ephesus, that were teaching a doctrine contrary to that under which the church of Christ was founded by the apostles, on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in the second chapter of Acts. There were those that refused to give up past religious practices that included fables and genealogies. This resulted in vain jangling, such as senseless arguing, disputing, and quarrelsome debating. There were those among the congregation that considered themselves to be teachers of the law, that is, knowledgeable of the Law of Moses, who refused to relinquish the Old Testament law, and attempted to include portions of it in the doctrine of Christ, on which His church was founded. Of these men, Paul said that they, like all Jewish leaders of the days of Christ, did not understand what they were teaching. If they had true knowledge of the Law of Moses, they would have recognized that it was completely abolished, and replaced, by the New Testament law of Christ.

Having condemned those Jewish Christians for their misuse of the Law of Moses, in the lesson text, Paul immediately upholds it by telling them that the law (of Moses) is good. Who can doubt the goodness of the law given to the Israelites by God from Mount Sinai, through His servant Moses? This fact was not questioned by the apostle Paul. What Paul did oppose was those that misunderstood its purpose and meaning, were attempting to teach others their same erroneous understanding. The Law of Moses was good, but only if a man uses it lawfully, that is, if a man understands, teaches, and uses it for the purpose designed by God. The Old Law of Moses must serve to spiritually unite the church of Christ; it should never be used to divide it.

In his letter to the churches of Christ in Galatia, Paul tells us the exact purpose for which God intended the Old Testament law. He wrote, Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster (Gal. 3:24-25). Complete knowledge of the Old Testament was then, and should still be now, the goal of every Christian. These things were written aforetime ...for our learning (Rom. 15:4). Other than this, the Law of Moses has no future spiritual need, since its purpose was fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

Continuing in the lesson text, Paul tells us why laws are necessary for mankind. First of all, the laws of God are not given to make one righteous. Preceding the quotation from Galatians cited above, Paul assured us that if there had been a law given which could have given (eternal) life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe (Gal. 3:21b-22). Regardless of the age in which they lived, Patriarchal, Mosaic, or Christian, God has given men and women laws in order for them to know what actions or inactions are sinful in His sight. God made laws, not for a righteous man (or woman), but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane.

Specifically, some of God's laws condemn murderers of other human beings. They also condemn whoremongers - those who promote or are actively participating in illicit sexual promiscuity; those defile themselves with mankind - those referred to in Romans 1:26-27 that are given to the vile affections of homosexuality; those that are men-stealers - those that forcefully take a person from their life of freedom and sell them into conditions of slavery; those that are liars and swear falsely; those that commit any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, which includes all that defy and oppose any other law given by God through His Son, Jesus Christ, or His Holy Spirit-inspired writers of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my (Paul's) trust. Indeed, God's laws expose and condemn the lawless!