Thursday, September 01, 2022

2022.09.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 1:8–11

Read 1 Timothy 1:8–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What do “we” do in 1 Timothy 1:8? What is it that we know about? What do we know about it? When is it good? What are we still doing in 1 Timothy 1:9? For what kind of person was the law not made? But for what six general types of people? And what eight specific examples of these (1 Timothy 1:9-10)? To what are all these things/types of people contrary (1 Timothy 1:10)? What sort of doctrine teaches this truth (1 Timothy 1:11)? What does he call the gospel? Whose does he say it is? Why is he teaching it and teaching Timothy to teach it? 

What is the first right use of the law? 1 Timothy 1:8–11 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the good law has a good use that bad people must make of it if it will be used to do them good from the good God.

The good law. “But we know the law is good” says 1 Timothy 1:8. Why does the apostle say this? Because in 1 Timothy 1:4 he had referred to people who preached endlessly on genealogies, thinking that they were making themselves great teachers of the law (1 Timothy 1:7, i.e., Scripture). If we’ve been Christians for a while, we’ve heard someone mishandle the Scripture. Does that mean that the Scripture is bad? Or that doctrine is bad? Of course not!

Its good use. Much like what we recently saw in Romans 2:17–24, the first good use of the Scripture is to tell us that God is good, and we are bad. If the Scripture gives us confidence in ourselves, we have read it incorrectly. It tells us that we are lawless, insubordinate, etc. We might think that we are not so bad as the horrific things named in the list—murderers of fathers and mothers, killers of men, fornicators, sodomites, liars? Surely, we aren’t so bad as to be named in that group (note that ours is such a wicked age that some of these are actually approved of and encouraged)! But we are named… at the end of 1 Timothy 1:10. “and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” 

The law is not made for a righteous person because, apart from Christ, there aren’t any righteous persons! (Obviously, the apostle cannot be saying that the law has no use for the converted, since this would contradict things that he plainly teaches by the Spirit elsewhere, e.g., Romans 13:8–10, etc.). 

Its good benefit. So, if sin is opposed to sound doctrine, does that mean that the Scripture is opposed to us? By no means! For, the same Scripture that announces to us that we are all bad is the Scripture that announces to us the glorious gospel, the glorious good news. Timothy remembers how glorious the gospel was for him to hear as a sinner. The Ephesians remember how glorious the gospel was for them to hear as sinners. Will they really put up with manmade traditions and endless twisting of obscure Scripture (1 Timothy 1:4) instead of hearing again the glorious gospel (1 Timothy 1:11) as that which brings all Scripture into its proper context? They mustn’t! Instead, let them have Christ’s called men teach Christ’s true doctrine, which Christ will use to produce in them His own, true love (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3-7). 

From the good God. There is a reason to affirm the Scripture’s goodness that is even better than the fact that it has at its heart the glorious gospel. It’s not just good because of the good that it does those who receive it, but because of the infinite goodness of Him Who gave it! He is the blessed God. And He has entrusted to Paul to be an agent of this glorious gospel as an apostle. And it is He Who also entrusts Timothy to be an agent of this glorious gospel as an elder. And it is He Who, through Timothy, will entrust other elders to be agents of this glorious gospel. 

Why be so insistent that he not let bad people teach the Scripture badly, resulting in bad lives? In part because the good God has called particular people to teach His good Word in a good way to do His people good through the glorious gospel!

Who has given you the Scripture? Whom/what else has He given you to safeguard proper use of that Scripture? What does He thus obtain for you in eternity? In your life in this world?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for when we forget that we are bad, and You are good, and that this is one of the basic messages of Your Word. Use Your good Word to bring Your good gospel home to our hearts. And use it to conform us to the image of our righteous Redeemer, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH19B “The Heavens Above Declare”

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