We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–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 1:9-11)
The Old Testament Law was good and beautiful. It also had a purpose: to convict sinners. But its purpose was not to save sinners.
It is important to remember the Apostle Paul’s thread of thought regarding the Law. The Law cannot save us from our sins, and we should not put too much stock in our ability to keep it. This does not mean the principles we find in the Old Testament Law are contrary to the heart of God. No, they are from Him, and give us valuable insight into holy living. Yet, we are not saved by our adherence to the Law, since we cannot keep it perfectly, but rather the blood of Jesus that poured from Calvary.
To reinforce this point, Paul suggests the Law doesn’t convict those who have already been made righteous. Just as righteous people (but not perfect people) in Old Testament times kept the Law, those in Christ are made righteous by the blood of Jesus and are not condemned by the Law.
The bottom line of this teaching is that those who are in Jesus don’t look to the Law for their salvation. When they attempt to do so, they deny the real source of their righteousness (Jesus’ blood) and inflate their egos.
Sometimes it helps us understand a passage if we look ahead a bit. As our study continues we will remember Paul’s past life. He was a member of the list in this morning’s passage. Paul murdered Christians for their faith. Therefore, one way to understand these verses is from Paul’s position. Had he been writing just about himself he might have said: “I don’t count myself righteous because of the Law. If I tried to keep it, I would be condemned as a murderer, along with many others who have committed equally horrible sins. Instead, I put my faith in Jesus, and hold to the gospel, that He died, was buried and rose again to proclaim victory over my sins.”
Of course, these are my words, not Paul’s, but maybe this is one way to help us understand how personal this message was for him.
Paul’s message also gets personal for any of us when we try to save ourselves. It is good to be good, but bad to think our goodness is good enough. The only way to peace is through the blood of Jesus.
And I’m good with that.
Dear God, help me remember my righteousness is not my own. In Jesus’ name, Amen.