“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly……and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which He entrusted to me.”
1 Timothy 1: 8, 10b-11
1 Timothy 1: 8-11
Jesus said that He had come not to replace the law (and prophets) but to fulfill it (Matthew 5: 17); so what does Paul mean in this short passage and how does the law link to the Gospel? To help answer these questions it would be good to try and understand the culture of the day, the situation that Paul was addressing, by looking at the list of ills he recorded. Taking some of the items on this difficult list and unpacking the Greek translation here are some examples that will give us a sense of the times: the lawless, those who know the law but break it openly; the undisciplined, those who refuse to obey authority; the irreverent, those who positively and actively practice irreligion; the immoral, linked to the temple of Aphrodite vice, prostitution and sexually immoral behaviour was rife within the society; and slave traders, the possible translation here is that of slave kidnappers a greater evil within this diabolical business.
The Law clearly identifies against such behaviour; simply comparing the list against the Ten Commandments demonstrates this reality. Behaviour that contradicts God’s Law also contradicts the sound doctrine of the Gospel (vs. 10-11), so as the Gospel is embraced the law is not to be contradicted. As John Stott says, “There is no antithesis (opposition between two matters) between law and Gospel in the moral standards they teach; the antithesis is in the way of salvation, since the law condemns, while the Gospel justifies.” What the Gospel does through Jesus Christ is enable the believer to be made right with God in order that the righteous requirement of the Law may be fulfilled. Then the presence of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer empowers obedience to the law Jesus in Christ.
Therefore the glorious Gospel (vs. 11) is the amazing Good News of forgiveness for sins past and power to overcome in the present and future. God’s mercy and grace cleanses the repentant believer. This Good News comes from God, it has been revealed and is not man-made; it is truth and power. Finally it has been entrusted to us, the Good News is to be shared. Such is God’s love for us! The motivation for the believer then is that sin does not only break the law but God’s heart. Our obedience to the law comes not from fear of it or of judgement but from the fear of disappointing Christ’s love and of grieving the Father. So it is not the law of God that constrains us but the love of God within the power of the Gospel; love fulfills the law.
To Ponder: Compare the list in today’s reading with what you see in our society and culture today; what contravenes God’s laws? How can the Gospel help to confirm truth and empower obedience motivated by God’s love?
Prayer; Almighty Lord and everlasting God, we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern both our hearts and bodies in the ways of your laws and the works of your commandments; that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Alternatively pray through Psalm 51
Praise: How He loves us
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzfPHnoT0-0
Love Divine all loves excelling
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGGcqhKShQ8
Incumbent at St Aidan's Anglican Church,