Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 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, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:8-11)
Most of us have experienced it. Someone at work messes up, so the next day a company-wide policy is implemented that is binding on everyone. A law is made. You see it all the time in society as well. “Let’s pass a law.” The problem is, that new law restricts everyone else, and they weren’t the offender! In a way, the righteous are punished right along with the unrighteous. The Apostle Paul says this ought not to be. The Law is laid down not for the just, but for the lawless.
Let’s bring this to bear upon the church and abusers.
Let’s say a crime of sexual abuse occurs in a church and is discovered. What is to be done? There are already civil laws in place to deal with the criminal, but very often leaders in a church will enact their own new “laws.” The catch is, these laws apply to the righteous, not to the wicked.
- Girls are to be more modest
- Wives must be more submissive in the bedroom
- No woman is to ever be in any kind of one-on-one contact with a man who is not her husband
- The internet and movies. A whole new bag of “do’s and don’ts” are published.
You find yourself saying “Hey, I’m not the criminal here. I didn’t do anything wrong.” And you didn’t. There IS a problem here. The law is being misused because it is being applied to the righteous, not the wicked.
Abuse victims suffer from this misuse of the law as well. How many times have we seen it? A victim reports her abuser to her church and the response is, “You need to do this. You need to stop doing that. You need to. . .”. This is nothing less than the misuse of the law. It is laying the law down on the victim instead of where it needs to be enforced — against the abuser.
Notice what Paul has to say about people who misuse the law in these ways:
Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:6-7)
See it? This misuse of the law, which is so widespread in the church today, demonstrates that we have a whole pack of people craving to lead us, craving to be our teachers, claiming to be able to handle the Word of God, who are in fact without understanding when it comes to that very Word of God. They make “confident assertions” along the line of “thus saith the Lord,” but in reality they are fools. Timothy, as a pastor, is given this charge by the Apostle:
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. (1 Timothy 1:3-4)
There it is. We’ve got a whole truckload of “speculations” and “different doctrine” and “myths” parading today as the Word of God. A whole body of “legislation” that God has not authorized. One mission of a true pastor today, and really of every genuine Christian is, to “charge certain persons” to close their mouths and put away their pens and blogs. Because they know nothing about God’s Word and they are enslaving the innocent.
So true Pastor Crippen. Welcome to “religion 101” with the “pharisees”. I am sick of organized religion with all of their so called “programs”. Most of the people are stoic, unfriendly and hard hearted. They lack the Holy Spirit living in their hearts and have dreadfully added to the abuse of “widows” as the Lord sees them. Piling burden after burden on the victim of the Satan (how I hate to capitalize that name) infested anti-husband. Man made “religion” will be judged by God.
This passage was never explained to me in this way.
I always had the impression, that those who were most into:
– the law is not for me/us, for Jesus means grace –
were the ones that could need some restriction.
This passage was even used to me in the (opposite) sense, saying:
– do not restrict yourself (and only yourself) more than we do –
– do not bother us (by looking at your example), when your conscience restrains you –
– for our practice is biblical and no one can have a conscience more restraining than our (interpretation of the) bible.
While in fact, loving your neighbour will sometimes refreign a person from doing something, respecting other peoples needs or perspectives.
But sometimes love will override the hard-heartened wooden rules of pharisaic know-it-alls.
It depends on the broader context, the background, the (perception of the) situation.
Pharisees burden other people with rules that do not apply to themselves (e.g. men make rules for women) or boast about what does not really burden themselves.
They find legal loopholes for their own shortcomings (and those of their likes), even for the elephant in the room (e.g. crimes).
People with a tender heart and conscience and a love of Christ would rather be careful (full of care) and self-critical (knowing they are sinners), tending to burden themselves rather than others.
They would scrutinize themselves in the light of the scripture, teachings and preachings, and forgive others more than they forgive themselves.
The law is indeed for those that do not have written on the tablets of their heart:
Thou shalt love the LORD…and your neighbour.
Thank you for your inspiring insight,
Thank you C. Excellent!