“But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust” (1Tim 8-11).
There is a very grave danger—man’s misuse of God’s Law—which has sadly misled many, even godly souls. Yet the law is good, if one uses it lawfully (lawful use of the law is in its informing of guilt—NC). Have the misusers the inward consciousness that law is not made for a righteous man but for the lawless and unruly, and for other evil doers (those who continue to “sin willfully, i.e. after knowing [“receiving”] the knowledge of the truth and choose not to believe it, thus they are receiving or learning only the knowledge of the truth, but not receiving the truth – Heb 10:26—NC)? Far different was their thought. Herein, then as now, men betray their inability to discern God’s reveled mind.
Law does not contemplate the good, but the bad. Law is enacted to detect, convict and punish. Law never made a “just man,” much less “the good man,” if one may cite the distinction in Romans 5:7. It is a sharp weapon to wound and kill transgressors; it never was designed to form motives of integrity or a walk of true righteousness. Its excellence lies in its unsparingness of evil; and man is evil and this by nature.
Grace, not law, saves sinners. Not law but grace teaches “us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit 2:11-13).
Here theology revolts from the truth, and even good men ignore the source of all that made them what they are through the redemption that is in Christ and the faith that casts them thus upon God (e.g. Gal 3:3—NC). It matters not to them that the Apostle elsewhere declares that “by law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20), that it “works wrath” (Rom 4:15), that it “is the power (strength) of sin” (1Co 15:56), that it is a “ministration of death” and “condemnation” (2Co 3:7, 9), that “as many as are under its works are under its curse” (Gal 3:10; the beginning of the curse of the law - Gen 2:17; Eze 18:4, 20—NC), that it was added for the sake “of transgressions” (Gal 3:19).
They will have it that the law was made for the righteous as a rule of life, though it is plain unavoidable inference from the words before us that this is precisely what the Apostle explicitly denies of the law. It is the Lord Jesus Christ Who above all acts on the believing one’s soul. Hence he needs the Word of God as a whole throughout his life, and the Spirit enables him to apply it in practical detail.
Such is the believer’s secret of true morality; which in divine wisdom binds the heart up with the risen Lord, and make the written Word to be matter for constant pondering, for comfort and conscientious application in the Spirit, but all in the sense of the true grace of God in which we stand and are exhorted to stand. For such exceeding privileges are meant to deepen our dependence upon the Father and our confidence in His love day by day.
Entirely is it not only admitted but insisted on in Scripture that the Christian is bound to do the will of God at all cost, and is never free to gratify the flesh (not fulfill the lust of the sin nature - Gal 5:16—NC). He is sanctified unto the obedience of Jesus Christ no less than to the sprinkling of His Blood (1Pet 1:2). Self-pleasing is Satan’s service (and our old man—NC). But the law is not the measure of God’s will for the believer. It was for Israel but believers are made dead to it through the body of Christ, that they should belong to Another—even to Him that was raised from the dead, that they should bring forth fruit unto God (Rom 7:4). This is now the method of divinely-wrought freedom, only to obey the Father with a nearness, fullness and absolute devotedness unknown to the Jew (non-messianic—NC).
Can anything be less satisfactory, yea more negative, than the ordinary assertion of the divines that Paul still leaves it open, so far as Scripture speaks, for the law to be the directory of Christians, and that he simply means to exclude it from justifying the soul (Gal 2:16)? It is certainly undeniable that in Romans Six and Seven Paul is treating Christian walk not to be the order to justification; and there he lays down that believers are not under law but grace. Against the fruit of the Spirit “there is no law” (Gal 5:23).
Is it not painfully instructive to see how an error once let in works to ungodliness (Gal 5:9)? For those who so strenuously contend against the uniform doctrine of the New Testament, and place the Christian under law as his rule of life, contend that if he offended as we all do too often, he is not under its curse! Is this to establish the law, or to annul it?
If the Lord Jesus Christ died and bore its curse (Heb 9:28; 1Pe 2:24), and believers too died with Him and now are no longer under law but under grace, the truth is kept intact, the authority of the law is maintained (by Christ, not the believer—NC), and yet we who believe have full deliverance. If believers were really under law for walk, we ought to be cursed, or you destroy its authority; if we are not under it, the true provision for one’s sin is Christ’s advocacy with the Father, which brings us to repentance by the washing of water with the Word.
Truly the law is a ministration of condemnation (via informing sinners of their guilt, for we would have “not known sin, but by the law” - Rom 7:7. The guilt is incurred due to the fact of being informed why we are guilty - Jhn 15:22, 24—NC). What then can minister life, righteousness and the Spirit? The Gospel of salvation based on the Lord Jesus and His work on the Cross, which faith only receives; “and the law is not of faith,” as we repeat from Scripture (Gal 3:12). Blessing is inseparable from Christ; and it is of faith that it might be according to grace (Rom 4:16). Those that speak of law for the believer may speak out of the abundance of their heart, as they certainly do out of weakness of faith, and never show the good works for which they call, but prove the wretchedness of slighting the Lord Jesus Christ (unknowingly, without awareness—NC). For the Spirit is sent to glorify Him, and will never decorate the old man by vain hopes of amelioration (law served with the only nature man had at the time, i.e. the old man, but now faith serves with the new man—NC).
— Wm Kelly (1821-1906)