“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,. . .” (1 Timothy 1:8-9a)

Paul wrote these words to Timothy, his spiritual son and ministry partner who was leading the work in the church at Ephesus. His purpose was to encourage and guide him to persevere in the work of ministry in the midst of difficult circumstances. False teachers had arisen and were leading many astray with false doctrines. These teachers promoted a wide range of beliefs designed to make the Christian holier through self-denial and keeping the Jewish law. Paul acknowledged that the law of God, embodied in the 10 Commandments, is good and of vital importance but no one is saved by keeping it. In fact, no one can keep the Law perfectly and so no one can be as Holy as God.

The law is good because it reflects God’s righteousness and serves to guide us into holy living but it also leads us to seek the mercy of God. The Law leads us to Christ Jesus who came to earth for the sole purpose of saving sinners. Those who are in Christ have been changed completely and no longer live with their focus on sin and self. Rather they are so grateful for what Christ has done that they go out and tell others. No one who has encountered the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith can come away unchanged.