We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. (1Timothy 1:8)
I personally believe this is one of the most important verses in the Bible when it comes to a proper perspective on the Old Testament Law. Here’s why:
We have talked quite a bit about the legalists in Ephesus who were focusing on rules and depending more on works than grace. They were distorting the gospel of Jesus, and their reliance on His blood that was shed on the cross of Calvary.
However, I think we make a big mistake when we belittle the Old Testament Law. There is also nothing wrong with rules. In fact, there are rules in the New Testament. Jesus gave us rules. He told us how to handle conflict with others, said we should pray for those who persecute us, and commanded us to take the supper we call “communion” until He comes again. We do these things because we love Jesus, but my understanding of the scriptures is that they are not optional.
The problem with rules and the Old Testament Law comes when we depend on them to save us. As soon as we start thinking our adherence to rules and regulations saves us, then we move toward a form of self-righteousness (proclaiming ourselves good), and soon begin to judge those who don’t measure up to our standards. Instead, we should receive the grace of Jesus who makes us righteous with His blood and show love and compassion toward those who are in need of salvation.
The “law is good.” And why shouldn’t it be. God gave it. It was our schoolmaster, preparing the world for the appearance of Jesus. And it still reveals the heart of God and helps us understand some of the rationales behind the things we are commanded to do.
When I was a child and lived with my parents we had rules. I was expected to be home by a certain hour (unless I was playing tennis or at the beach with church friends singing songs in the lifeguard tower…but that’s another story), keep my room reasonably clean, not answer the door when no one was home, limit phone calls to ten minutes (when we had one land-line), and do my homework before watching TV (But no “Dark Shadows”).
When I went to college and returned home, I didn’t really have many rules, although I still limited my phone calls and was careful not to answer the door if I didn’t know who was there. Then, when I married, there were no rules. My wife and I could come and go as we pleased, though we still didn’t answer the door for strangers.
My point is, just because we enter into new relationships with others, or begin a new season in our lives, and some of the old rules are no longer applicable, doesn’t mean they were bad to begin with. It doesn’t even mean they still don’t have value. It just means they don’t apply to us in the same way they used to.
We will be studying the Old Testament Law in some upcoming devotions. But for now, don’t be afraid to love the Law. Even if we don’t need it for salvation, and even if much of it was designed for a sacrificial system that preceded Jesus, it is still beautiful.
Dear God, I love Your Law. In Jesus’ name, Amen.