We’ve finished the book of James, so let’s move back a couple of books, and go to 1 Timothy. — This is what God gave me today in His word:
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, (1 Timothy 1:8-10)
If one obeys the law, “lawfully,” that person is apparently obeying the law correctly. Alright, so how does one obey the law lawfully? Well, Paul doesn’t exactly answer that question; instead, he seems to expect that Timothy would understand what he meant. Alright, well, go Timothy! But that doesn’t really help us much. So, if Paul won’t give us any help in the matter, why not look at the definition of the word “lawfully,” and go from there?
a : being in harmony with the law <a lawful judgment>b : constituted, authorized, or established by law : rightful — Taken from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lawfully
So let’s say that sentence (obey the law, lawfully) in a different way: obey the law, in a way that is in harmony with the law. Meaning that, if your aren’t going to murder, don’t murder! However, as well as not murdering, obeying the law in a way which is in harmony with the law, means not disobeying any of the commandments. As James says:
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10)
That’s why Paul, in verse nine, says that the law is not just for the ‘upright’, but for the unholy, the profane, etc.. So, now that we know what it means to obey the law, lawfully, does this mean that by obeying the law in that lawful manner, we actually can earn our own salvation? Yes, it does. If you were somehow, by your own power, to, from the time you were conceived, be perfect. As that isn’t possible, the law is instead helpful as a sort of guide (if not, as Paul put it, “good” in of itself). The law isn’t meant to save us, it’s meant to lead us to Jesus. This happens because, once we realize the impossibility of always managing to obey the law, we start searching for something, or someone, who can save us. Even if we don’t know we’re searching, we still are.
To wrap up: the law can’t save, Jesus can. Jesus can save us because He’s died for us. Jesus died for us, because He loves us. He loves us for reasons known only to Himself.
You are Loved!