Law For Our Good
“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”
1 Timothy 1:8-11 ESV
The law gets a bad rap in modern Christian circles, but Paul says it’s good if you use it the right way. It’s bad if you try to use it as a means of justifying yourself before God. But it’s good as a means of exposing sin and the need for a Savior.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that is constantly changing the goalposts of morality. The societal pressure to adopt these changes is so overwhelming that even professing Christians are tempted to go along. Things like redefining racism, treating abortion as a healthcare issue and removing all boundaries on human sexuality are just a few of the issues gaining wide societal popularity, things that the Bible clearly teaches are wrong.
“But wait a second,” some say, “Aren’t we supposed to be loving and show grace to people? Won’t we hurt their feelings if we tell them they are wrong?” Yes, we are to be loving and gracious, but not by affirming people's sin. To affirm someone in their sin is to embolden them against their need for the Gospel. After all, who needs salvation when what I’m doing isn’t wrong? Being shown that what you’re doing is wrong can be incredibly loving.
Which is why Paul is very clear that we can’t get our morality from popular thought. It must come from the Word of God. The Bible is not unclear about these issues, and anything that can be considered sound teaching must affirm the same clear moral code presented in Scripture. Again, not because we can keep it perfectly or justify ourselves, but as unworthy sinners, we are compelled to cast ourselves on the mercy of Christ.
That’s why Paul says that these moral issues are in accordance, not just with sound doctrine, but also with the Gospel. As Christians, the Gospel doesn’t compel us to throw off morality, but rather to uphold it. Not in a smug, self-righteous way, but in a way that demonstrates we really believe. We really believe Jesus kept the whole law for us, and we really believe that He now empowers us to keep it from the heart by His Spirit.
The days are here when standing for a Biblical moral ethic will be a distinctive of those churches who preach sound doctrine and the Gospel, and those, sadly, who don't.