What does that mean? Does it mean that the righteous don’t have a Law nor a need for one? I believe by saying this, Paul was explaining the need for the Law, which is three fold:
1. To make sin and evil known (Rom 3:20);
2. To prevent sin and evil (Rom 13:3);
3. To convict and penalize sin and evil (Rom 3:19; Rom 6:23).
“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine…” (1 Tim 1:8-10).
If there was no Law, we would not be able to distinguish between right and wrong, nor would we feel bad for doing evil. However, it is evident that, even without a written Law, we all get convicted in our hearts when we do wrong, and so there exists an unwritten LAW that keeps us all in order (Rom 2:14-15). This is evident even among toddlers, who know when they have done wrong.
“And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God…” (1 John 3:19-21).
Paul was attesting to the fact that the written Law was made for the godless and wicked, those who deny the unwritten Law, and need disciplinary measures and enforcement of the Law to keep them in order. Without this written Law, they would cause disorder and mayhem as they do as they please, selfishly disregarding the needs of others. When we continually go against this internal control, we are as one searing their conscience and God will give us over to our own will, to a reprobate mind – to live as though we have no conscience (Rom 1:28-32). Paul is simply saying that those with a conscience do not need the written Law.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron…” (1 Tim 4:1-2).
Now, the righteous need only the internal, unwritten Law to know and do what is right. They have need of this Law, and they have the sensitivity, consideration, love and wisdom to heed its counsel and do what is good. They do not need anyone to teach them what is right or wrong (1 John 2:27). If any man needs an external governance to make them do what is right, then such a man is Lawless. It is as though they have no conscience, no morality, and they are like beasts that must be constrained.
“But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come…” (1 Tim 4:7-8).
We are not to be Lawless, because we are free from the bonds of the written Law. We are to be righteous, as those who observe a Higher and Eternal Law of Love and Liberty (Jam 2:12). We are to be perfect as our Father in Heaven, if indeed we are His (Matt 5:48). Do not use your liberty as a means of selfishness (Gal 5:13-14, 1 Pet 2:15-16), for you were bought at a price, and God Himself dwells in you (1 Cor 6:19-20)! It should be clear that they which have the Spirit of God are not Lawless, because they have a Law:
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
People say “we are no longer under the Law, we are under grace!”, as they seek to justify their love of and continuance in evil. But God is not fooled! And so we are warned: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal 6:7-8). And again:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10).
Christ didn’t die so you can be free to sin, but so that you may be liberated from the power of sin, and live by His Spirit (2 Cor 5:15, Gal 2:20, Rom 6:18, Rom 8:2). And we know that if we walk by the Spirit, we will NOT gratify the flesh (Gal 5:16-18). And also, if we are truly born of God, we cannot continue in sin (1 John 3:9, Rom 6:1-7). The Grace of God, by which we are saved, is not a licence to do evil, but the empowerment to be righteous!
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim 2:19).
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