How are you using the Law?


1Tim. 1:8   Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. 


Let’s concede the fact that there is an Old Testament law, and this is good. The New Testament writers had the Old Testament as their Scripture. There was no desire on their part to ignore what they had learned throughout out their lives. False teachers may be able to quote the law, but their intent was not to use the Scripture for God’s purposes, but for their own. They wanted to become famous, but they failed to see the real purpose. While one can quote the laws and debate their place in the world with others, they may still be far from embracing the true purpose. 

Chrysostom tells us: 

The law, he seems to say, is good, and again, not so good. What then? Suppose one uses it unlawfully, is it not good? No, even then the law itself as such remains good. What he means is this: if any one fulfills the law in his actions, it is good. For that is to “use it lawfully,” as here intended. But when one trumpets the law in words but neglects it in deeds, that is using it unlawfully…Further, the law, if you use it correctly, sends you to Christ…The faithful use the law lawfully when they govern themselves in its spirit but are not constrained by the letter of it…The faithful fulfill the law not from fear of it, but from that principle of virtue that it makes possible.(Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Timothy 2)

In other words the law’s purpose is always to lead us and others to Christ. It convinces those who are living in sin that they are far from God, and it provides a guide for all believers and leads them into holiness. So, the law in all things leads to Christ, and a complete and total reflection of him. The false teachers could talk about the law, but Christ was not visible in them. 


The law exists for all of us and we have a choice as to how the law will be handled. We can go to church, say that we are Christians, and proudly espouse the fact that the Ten Commandments should hang on our walls. The truth is that God will use the law, no matter what. But, if we are using the law to declare political or cultural truths without reflecting Christ, we don’t really know the law. To know the law is to be in a deep and profoundly personal relationship with the author of the law. 

The language of virtue should pique the interest of Jesus’ disciples. All disciples should be engaged in the practice of virtues. This is not a works salvation, but rather, a roadmap of Christlike behaviors which we are called to imitate which help us grow in Christlikeness. The law provides us with virtues which we should seek to practice in our daily lives. This is in imitation of Christ who brought the law to life in his own flesh. Therefore, the practice of the law becomes a reflection of Christ living in us. 

The law also becomes a mirror with which others can see themselves. It does provide a contrast to the life of sin and, as fulfilled in Christ becomes a guide to salvation. Use of the law for the good of the kingdom is always encouraged. 


Lord, your law is beautiful and leads us to a place of fulfillment. Please, help me never to twist or use the law for my own benefit. May your laws not be used to hurt those who are vulnerable. Please, shine through in my life and in the lives of those with whom I’m privileged to do life. Amen. 


Popular posts from this blog

The Advantage of Sanctification

When Jesus Fails to Meet our Expectations

Is Christ Actually in the Church?