In First Timothy chapter one the Bible is telling us what happens to people who have turned aside from sound doctrine and who become false teachers. The Bible says about them in First Timothy 1:7, Desiring to be teachers of the law: understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. One of the problems with these people is that they desire to be teachers of the law. There is a difference between law and grace. The central theme of the gospel is the grace of God through Jesus Christ. But these people do not desire to be teachers of grace. They desire to be teachers of the law. They do not understand the difference between law and grace. They do not understand what should be said about law. Its really the same mistake that the Pharisees made. They lay burdens upon people that they themselves cannot bear. Jesus said, My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
These kinds of people desire to be teachers. Thats part of the problem. Not just any one can be a teacher. One must be gifted by God in order to teach His Word. If someone desires to teach who does not have such a gift then they will teach the wrong things. Every Christian is gifted in some way, and every gift is important but do not try to teach if you do not have the gift to teach. The way to serve God is to find out what your gift is and then to look for ways to exercise that gift. One way to recognize someone who does not have a gift from God to teach is that they will teach law instead of grace.
These false teachers do not understand the difference between law and grace. They not understand the right way to talk about law. Instead of helping to lift burdens, they lay burdens upon people. Instead of emphasizing mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, they push people into guilt and condemnation through their incorrect emphasis on the law. These people who desire to be teachers of the law do not understand the difference between law and grace, just like I Timothy 1:7 says, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. If someone does not understand an important doctrine of the Bible, then that means they have not received understanding from God. They could have done what everyone else has done who does have understanding of this matter. They could have gone to God through Christ and received it, but they did not. If they have not gone to God and received understanding, then they certainly are not qualified to stand up and be teachers.
What is the true emphasis that should be made concerning the law? What is the relationship of the Christian to the law? We were already told in First Timothy 1:5, Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. There is no list of dos and donts for the Christian. There is no law for those who have love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned. What then is the purpose of the law? I Timothy 1:8-10 says, 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 menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.
The problem with false teachers is that they do not understand the true purpose of the law. There is no problem with the law. The law is good, according to First Timothy 1:8. What is bad is those who desire to be teachers of the law because they emphasize the law in a way that it should not be emphasized in this age of grace. Too bad that they do not desire to be teachers of the grace of God that is in Jesus Christ. John 1:17 says, For the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
The purpose of the law is not a means for a person to become justified before God. The purpose of the law is not a guide for the Christian life. The purpose of the law is not to give you a pattern by which you can please God. Much the contrary: the purpose of the law is so that sinners will know how exceedingly sinful they are, and so that they will then turn to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Thats why it says here in First Timothy, 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. The purpose of the law is so that sinful human beings who are not rightly related to God will understand their own sinfulness. Thats why it says elsewhere in the Bible, The law is our school-master, to bring us unto Christ.
When we speak of the law, generally speaking we are talking about a list of things that human beings ought to do. Such a list can accomplish only one thing when it is given to sinners: condemn. If the law is given to a perfect person, then the law will justify and elevate that person. But if the law is given to a sinner, it can only condemn and reveal the greatness of the failures. The problem that we human beings have is that we have sinned. We are not perfect. Jesus Christ is the only one to have kept the law. He fulfilled the law. We have not. He did what we could not do. Not only that but Jesus also fulfilled the righteous demands of the law for justice. The law condemns us, but Jesus took our place and took the condemnation on Himself. Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree. Thats why we owe Jesus everything, and thats why we teach grace instead of law.
We cannot help but notice the very detailed description of the sinfulness of the human race and of all those in the human race to whom the law applies: 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 menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. Notice the sins that are covered here, from very general descriptions of sinfulness to very specific ones. We are talking about the law and those of us who do not keep the law. Therefore, the most noticeable of such a group would be those who have no law and no code of morality or ethics to which they aspire. These are the lawless. Of course, such lawless people are no worse than others who do have a law, but who break it. Both are just as guilty of not having kept the law. The problem is not the law. The problem is the weak and selfish human beings, you and me, who have either disregarded the law or disobeyed it.
Some specific sins are also mentioned here. Some of the things mentioned in this list are violence and murder, sexual immorality, and the sin of lying and not being truthful. Jesus said that we are just as guilty before God of having done such things even without doing them if we have had anger or lust or other thoughts to arise in our hearts. Just in case you have not found yourself in this description of sinfulness, Paul added the phrase, And if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. It is no wonder that Romans chapter 3 says, For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
What a wonderful Savior we have to have come into this world to die for all of these terrible sins. Paul wrote in First Timothy 1:11, According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. Its important to notice how this verse starts. It starts with according to. Paul had just spoken of the law and all of the sins, and transgressions, and disobediences that have to do with the breaking of the law, and then he ties it all to the gospel. The bad news is that we have all broken the law. The bad news is that we have sinned. The bad news is that we are guilty. The gospel means the good news. There is good news that is greater than the bad news. There is a direct relationship between the law and the gospel. The law is the bad news, but the gospel is the good news that does away with the bad news.
Paul talked about law and the predicament in which it puts human beings in connection with guilt and condemnation, but then Paul spoke of the glorious gospel of the blessed God. For Paul it was not enough to speak of the gospel of God: he spoke of the glorious gospel of the blessed God. If you want to honor God in your heart, honor Him for giving us the gospel of Christ. If you want to know which truth from God to emphasize and most highly value, then value the gospel. Never forget that it is the glorious gospel.
Paul thought of the law, and then he thought of the gospel. After thinking of the gospel, he thought of his own responsibility to spread the gospel to those who are still under the guilt of sin. In First Timothy 1:11 Paul said that the gospel was committed to my trust. Paul personally had come to benefit from the gospel by receiving it and entering into all of its promises through faith in Christ. But Paul knew that he was on the earth for a reason. A charge and a responsibility had been committed to him.
Concerning the responsibility to spread the gospel, Paul wrote in First Timothy 1:12, And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry. Paul did not think of his responsibility and opportunity to help spread the gospel as being a burden. He knew that it was a blessing and a privilege. If the Lord of glory has opened the door of opportunity and given you something to do in His plan for the universe, then you have been blessed indeed.
Why did Paul go into the ministry? Did he consider the various occupations of life and then chose the ministry over being a doctor or a ships captain? No. The principle factor was the fact that Paul did not put himself into the ministry: he was put into the ministry by someone else: Jesus Christ. Why is it that Jesus puts some people into the ministry and others he does not? One reason has to do with the will of God for each person. God does not want everyone to be in the ministry. Whatever God wants you to do is the most important thing possible for you to do. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
In addition to the will of God and the calling of God, there are also some practical considerations for someone to go into the ministry. Paul will go into much more detail about these qualifications in First Timothy chapter 3, but here in this verse Paul gives the reason that Christ called him into the ministry by saying that the Lord counted me faithful. It would be a terrible thing if someone went into the ministry who was not faithful. If you want to go into the ministry, then pray and strive to become more faithful; but do not go into it until Gods time for it. God always uses a prepared man for a prepared place. Be prepared. Be faithful and you will be prepared in the same way that Paul was.
Speaking about himself Paul said in First Timothy 1:13, Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. Obviously Paul knew that his standing with God was in no way based upon his own works or ability to keep the law. He spoke of his failures humbly and honestly. These were public sins that he had committed, and he publicly admitted them. One advantage to that is that he could not pretend to be something that he was not. Beware of people who talk about how good they are. Such people are not like the Apostle Paul. Such people have either never been saved or have forgotten that their salvation came only because they repented of their sins. They should not be bragging on themselves, they should be showing great thankfulness to Jesus Christ and the grace that was bestowed upon them through Him. Thats what Paul did. He said in First Timothy 1:14, And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Jesus Christ. Before he believed in Jesus Christ, Paul had been a deeply religious man, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, but he was not able to keep the law. Once he was awakened to the guilt of his own sins, he became aware of the value and necessity of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The law taught Paul of his need for grace. Therefore, Paul no longer taught law. He taught grace. He no longer recommended law to people. He recommended the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Anyone who taught law or emphasized law as a means to justification before God became a false teacher.
The answer to the peace with God that you need and the answer to the security of your eternal destiny will not come from the commandments of the law or your ability to keep them. The answer is found in the same place that Paul found it: in the grace of the Lord. Three great things are mentioned in First Timothy 1:14 as coming from Jesus Christ: grace, faith, and love. Grace is when God gives us what we do not deserve and cannot earn, and He can do this because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Faith is also a gift that comes from God. We put what little faith we have in Him, and then He gives us more faith and makes it stronger. Love is the greatest of gifts. God is love. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. The love of God is spread abroad in our hearts.
The law talks about what we must do for God. Paul talked about what God has done for us. There is a difference between law and grace. Thank God that through Jesus Christ we can know the difference.
Copyright; 2001 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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