“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” 1 Timothy 1:8
The following strange laws are still on the books (though likely not enforced), in various parts of Canada: 1) It is illegal to drag a dead horse on Yonge Street in Toronto on Sundays. 2) It is illegal for a bagpiper to play at the same time as another street performer in Victoria, B.C. 3) It is illegal to paint either your house door or garage door purple in Kanata, ON. 4) It is illegal to bring a llama to a national park anywhere in Canada. And finally, 5) it is illegal to keep your cow in your home as a pet in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Scripture has much to say with regards to the law of God. Psalm 119 dedicates nearly all of its 176 verses to the blessings of God’s law. If anyone were to ask us if God’s law is good, we would surely all answer in the affirmative. Yet when the apostle Paul writes to Timothy concerning certain men in Ephesus who desired to be teachers of the law, he adds a qualifier to the goodness of the law of God: The law of God is good if, and only if, one uses it lawfully, or legitimately.
Precisely what is it about using the law unlawfully that constitutes such a danger, that Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, issues this warning to Timothy? The reason is that deep inside every heart, there is a Pharisee lurking that desires to save himself by his apparent obedience to the law. By nature, I refuse to believe that I am so evil that I can have no part in saving myself. And so I attempt to use the law to save myself! That is the great, great danger of using the law unlawfully! The law, the commands in Scripture, were never designed to bring us to God – they were only designed to condemn us, in order that we might flee to the only One who can bring us to God! Paul says it this way in Romans 3:20, “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” (NLT) May God increasingly drive us into the arms of our Saviour who alone can justify, sanctify and glorify these sinful wretches! To Him be all the glory!