A person who teaches that a believer is to follow the Law (of Moses) either lacks understanding –or he desires some kind of personal gain.
That gain comes in various forms by applying guilt. Some aim for financial wealth under the guise of it being for ministry. Others desire adoration which leads to manipulative control over their followers. Whatever the case, here’s Paul’s warning to Timothy to stop those infiltrators who were teaching doctrines contrary to a life of faith alone in Christ.
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.
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 1:5-11)
We saw that the Law was given to Moses for implementing an enduring set of dramas and pictures that exactly presented the then-future accomplishments of Jesus’ arrival, His life, His death and His resurrection. That people was chosen to be ministers (a priesthood) of the gospel to the world showing that absolutely everyone is born into the world spiritually dead (separated from God) and that we need the life that only He offers.
In the passage above, Paul listed a few of the things we’ve done that are worthy of the Law’s death penalty. That’s to make certain that we comprehend the severity of our initial, natural condition –the condition of our flesh (our sin-nature). It’s dead and it will never inherit the kingdom of God (from 1 Corinthians 15:50-58).
What changed when He gave us life –when we were born-again? Was it the fact that we’ve never done those things again since that day? Of course not. . .
A similar list of capital offenses is contained in the passage below, but notice how it concludes with a description of the new identity we were given when we became “in Christ.” As a believer, we have been washed (cleansed of all unrighteousness), sanctified (made holy), and justified (declared innocent of all wrong doings) in His name and by His Spirit!
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
The New Testament uses the phrase (or words comparable to) “in Christ” over 170 times to describe our new identity. This passage from Romans chapter six uses spiritual baptism to summarize this identity change.
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:3-11)
Our righteousness is found in Christ. He completely fulfilled the Law which uncovered our offenses –our unrighteous deeds were plain for us to see. He took away all our sins by paying the required death penalty.
God has chosen to never remember our sins again –they are behind His back, never to be seen again. He brought them all to mind once –all of them –even those in our future. And He put them all on His Son who was then crucified in our place. Now our sins are as far from us as the east is from the west. We are new creations in Christ.
If a person tells you that you need to try to keep the Law –we read that it can only show that you are a lawbreaker– then he’s also telling you that Jesus’ sacrifice was not sufficient for you. It follows that you are no longer washed, no longer sanctified, and no longer justified. Jesus and the Holy Spirit would be ineffective –unable to keep God’s promise of providing eternal life. You would once again be dead and in need of that life.
So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)
The teachers of the Law use a lie to trap unsuspecting believers. It goes something like this: “The death penalty no longer applies –instead we merely fall out of fellowship with God.” They try to use 1 John 1:9 to justify our need for asking God for forgiveness. They want us to use it like a bar of soap to cleanse ourselves. What a hoax –Jesus did that already! There is nothing we can add to what He has already done.
When you hear one of those teachers, try to examine his motives.
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing.
He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-6)
Is he just ignorantly following what he has heard from other religious people –or his seminary training? Or is he identified in that passage above –trying to get into your wallet to finance his ministry –to build a larger building or . . .?
No matter what a teacher of the Law has for a motive, he is wrong!
The gospel is about God’s undeserved grace and limitless mercy which has been granted to all who receive Jesus as their Savior! The Law was just to get us onto the path leading to His Son so that we can eternally live with Him.
The entire letter to the Galatians is written to a people who had received Christ by faith and then were ensnared by teachers of the Law. Those “false brothers” gained entry into believers’ hearts with an appeal for physical circumcision like Abraham’s. Paul fumed saying “I wish those who are troubling you [those teachers of the Law] would even mutilate [emasculate] themselves” (Galatians 5:12).
He knew his Scriptures exceeding well. “No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” The reference was to their own Law –Deuteronomy 23:1. He wanted them out of the assemblies.
Paul wasn’t the only one to battle them. The gospels recount that Jesus routinely railed against the scribes. They were the supposed experts who were charged with thoroughly knowing and interpreting the Law –particularly when there were disputes.
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. (John 5:39-40)
Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death (Matthew 20:18)
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:14-15)
Woe to you, scribes [teachers of the Law] and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? (Matthew 23:25, 33)
There should be no doubt about the wickedness that they have perpetrated –however they do serve a most important purpose. Like Satan (who exposed Eve’s desire to be God and who stirred Job to salvation), Pharaoh (who incited the Exodus) and Judas (who we blame for Christ’s death), those vile teachers have stimulated us to listen to the Holy Spirit while seeking out God’s truth.
Trying to live according to what the Law states can only show us who Jesus is and that apart from Him we’re unrighteous, unholy, dead –separated from God. He is the single source for eternal life. With that life He also washed, sanctified, and justified us ( ).