The Lawful Use Of The Law      

I Timothy 1:8-10


The law of God is holy, just and good. There is nothing in the law of God but that, which is the delight and desire of God's saints. "I delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Rom. 7:22). There is no such thing as a believer who is against the law. "The law is good, if a man use it lawfully."


What is the lawful use of the law? According to the Scriptures, I can find only four lawful uses of the law. It was given for these four purposes.


(1.) To Identify Sin (Rom. 3:20; 7:7). The only true standard of right and wrong is the law of God. The only way a sinner knows what sin is is by the declaration of the law.


(2.) To condemn Men For Sin (Rom. 3:19). The law of God renders all men excuseless. It does not take into account the age, environment, education, or ability of the offender. Wherever it finds sin, it condemns the sinner.


(3.) To Control The Sinful Deeds Of Men (I Tim. 1:9-10). Contrary to popular social opinion, the fear of certain punishment is a very strong deterrent to crime. And that is a lawful use of the law.


(4.) "To Bring Us Unto Christ" (Gal. 3:24). The law afflicts and holds men and women in bondage until they come to Christ. It shows us our need of Christ, "that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."


However, in our day, as in Paul' s there are many who have turned aside from the lawful use of the law into vain jangling," attempting to put God's saints under the rule of the law. These "teachers of the law" we must avoid, for they do not understand either the law or the gospel. To try to make the law do what only the grace of God in Christ can do is to pervert both the law and the gospel. The law cannot produce true conviction and repentance. Only the revelation of Christ can do that (Zech. 12:10). The law cannot justify the sinner. Only the blood of Christ can do that (Rom. 3:24). The law cannot sanctify the believer (Ga1. 3:3). Only the Spirit of God, forming Christ in the heart can sanctify. The law cannot rule or motivate one of God's children. We are not under the law, but under grace. We are ruled by faith in Christ, motivated by the love of Christ and governed by love for his people (I John 3:23; II Cor. 5:14).


Don Fortner