7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 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, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
It would be an honorable job to be a teacher of the law. Kind of like in the olden days of the US, if the pastor showed up at your house (or — gasp — if you had him over for dinner!) you’d be all excited and honored. The holy men would get all of the best seats at a table in Jesus’ day. I know a modern country where the holy men don’t use crosswalks. They just step out into the road wherever they want and all of the traffic stops.
The problem is when they look like a preacher, and they act like a preacher, but they don’t know what they are talking about! This is who Paul is addressing to Timothy. It serves as a real-life warning for him to look out for those people.
It’s also a cautionary tale to not become one.
There was a belief in those days among Greeks that the law was for people that disobeyed the law. That sounds kind of wonky, but it makes sense if you believe that everyone is trying to be altruistic in their society and generally good. Why would we need a speed limit on the Lloyd Expressway if everyone had sense and didn’t drive like maniacs? And so, since people are unlawful, we have speed limits.
There were some people in Paul’s day that didn’t have a Jewish background to know the law of Moses but then became Christians. While not under the Law, there were sins that people committed that weren’t in line with following Christ. If Christ is your All in All, then you don’t have to try to get satisfaction in some man-made way apart from God.
For example, when you hear “repent from your sin,” most people have in mind what that might be. If I’m carrying around the guilt of stealing hubcaps, the Holy Spirit is going to call that to mind. He does that so I can confess my sin, make it clear that I see the wrong in it, and then believe in faith that Jesus died for that sin. It doesn’t count any more!
Other folks might not even know that stealing the hubcap is sin. That is who needs to hear that law. Just hearing that it’s wrong isn’t enough, though. Why is it wrong in light of Jesus Christ giving you everything you need?
This turns into us serving Jesus and living holy lives out of gratitude and not out of fear of laws. The Gospel is not how to properly eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Gospel is that Jesus has died for what we’ve already eaten and now gives us life in Him.
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