Law not made for righteous people
We are taking a fresh look at the Ten Commandments. They show us our sin and they point us to Christ, who is the only way to God. I am reading from I Timothy 1:3- 11.
“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than Godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscious, and from sincere faith, from which some, have strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.
“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 father 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.”
Did we hear and understand whom the law is for? “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.” If we are honest at all, all of us will find ourselves somewhere in there.
It is a remarkable thing to me that nearly all legal codes include some secular version of the Ten Commandments. You shall not kill, not in the first, second or third degree. You shall not embezzle, or steal, commit grand larceny, nor auto theft. You shall not lie or bear false witness against your neighbor, or you will be guilty of perjury, and so on. Our nation’s legal code is filled with secular versions of the Ten Commandments. In fact, it has been rightly said that the Ten Commandments are, in many ways, the thunderstone on which our western civilization has been built.
What the law does in its second, civic use is to deter lawbreakers by the threat of punishment. The law serves to restrain evil or to bridle it. Or, to change the image, the law is a kind of dike against the flood of sin and evil by which we would otherwise be overwhelmed.
If life in the human community is to be harmonious, or even tolerable, we will have to have laws and we will have to have them enforced. There is a sense in which this fact is almost universally recognized. There is another sense in which we see this truth being flaunted today. We make laws and then we find dozens of reasons not to enforce them. In doing so we make a mockery out of our system of justice and we create the situation that we live with today — a society in which it seems that our system of justice works better for the criminal and against the honest victim.
Recognition of the need for law is much more common than obedience to the law or enforcement of the law.
Heavenly Father, help us to be obedient to your laws and eager to support their just and equal enforcement. For Jesus’ sake, amen and amen.