The letters of Paul are often used out of context to make the case that the law and instruction of the LORD has been completely abolished or fulfilled. We must remember also that each of the letters of Paul is addressed to a specific community or group of people and he is addressing very specific issues they are experiencing. These letters were not written with the audience in mind of Christians 2000 years later. They were written to Jews and Gentiles contemporary to Paul’s life and writing, and not to all of them, but rather specific letters to specific audiences.
Paul writes his letters to Timothy, after the death and resurrection of Christ. We see, however, that Paul himself tells Timothy that the law is good, if applied properly. He does not rebuke people for teaching the law, but rather those who are teaching it incorrectly. He calls them out for getting lost in fruitless discussions about genealogies and such or teaching strange doctrines. Strange doctrines would refer to new and different understandings of the law, not to the understanding of the law traditionally held prior to Christ’s death. Else he would likely use different words to indicate that it was “outdated” or “fulfilled” rather than “strange”.
Paul asserts the law is still good and relevant. It confirms for us what is right and wrong. It convicts us of improper behavior and attitudes. It confirms the leading of the Holy Spirit, as YHWH will not contradict himself.
Misleadings in Doctrine and Living
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
2To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7wanting 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.
8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
Take time to reflect on the core message here and how it contradicts what is taught in many churches today. Paul asserts the law is good, it is not a burden to be set free from. If we are to use the law properly, than we must study and understand it and the context in which it was given and used as a guide for God’s people. We can not simply dismiss it or ignore it. We should not assume that everyone who accepts the name of Christ if fully transformed and led by the Spirit so completely as to no longer need the law as a guide. We need only look around us to see that is not the case. I think the point he makes here is that one who is led by the Spirit will walk consistent with the teaching of the law and thus the law is not necessary for them.However, the law can still confirm for us that we are walking the right way and listening truly to the Spirit instead of our own sin nature or the adversary. If I already know by heart how to do a task, then I may no longer need the instructions. The instructions are still valid and have not changed just because I may not need to refer to them.
I encourage each of you to pray on this matter and challenge yourself to study more in the area of the law and our Hebrew roots of the Christian faith. There are great resources available online through ministries that are focused on understanding the Hebrew roots of our faith in Christ Jesus. I have included several on our page, Focused Ministries – Understanding Hebrew Roots. I have listed a few additional resources to help you Study Hebrew Roots of Christianity.
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