Paul gives Timothy encouragement and instructions in our reading today. Timothy has a purpose to fulfil for God in the place he has been sent.
Timothy is in Ephesus on a mission. There are some people there, whom Paul chooses not to name, that are teaching false doctrines. Paul also chooses not to go into specifics about their teachings but we can surmise that it has something to do with the Law. I wonder if Paul’s choice not to go into detail about the teaching has to do with his statement about the teacher’s themselves. “Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussions, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” (verses 6-7). In other words, they are speaking in ignorance. I pray I don’t join their ranks!
Paul confirms to us on MANY occasions that Jesus fulfilled the Law and we are no longer under it but under grace. I believe this with my whole heart! The reason Jesus came was because the Law couldn’t save us, it only identified where we fall short. And we ALL fall short of it at times. But just because we are not under the Law doesn’t mean it is of no importance and should be discarded.
Because the Law identifies right and wrong it is useful as a model for behavior. Those who have given their lives to Jesus live by His standards: “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all you mind and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). These commandments from Jesus embody the heart of God, which is what the Law was meant to do.
The believer who is living as Jesus commanded has no need to fear the law. His lifestyle is in line with it. Jesus already took our punishment for the times when we will fail to stay strictly within its confines. And He has promised us His forgiveness when we repent. THAT is His gift to us.
The Law then is for those who refuse to walk by the standards set out by God; for those who willfully commit sin. Those who are not walking in sin have no fear of the punishment promised by the Law.
This reminds me of a video I saw about how to avoid a speeding ticket. It was two policemen showing us a foolproof way to avoid a ticket. They turned the camera to focus on a speed limit sign and said, “Stay under the speed limit and you will never get a speeding ticket. It’s that simple.” So, do what you know is right and you will not run the risk of getting in trouble with the law; man’s or God’s.
Those who don’t try to skirt the law or find loopholes don’t need to worry about its punishments. Those who do, do. The law is for correction for bad behavior, not a stick to beat people about the head with. I won’t guarantee this is what the false teachers were doing but it sounds plausible to me by Paul’s instructions to Timothy.
Father God, I know I am NOT perfect or innocent of breaking the rules at all times. In fact, I can state with 100% accuracy that I break (or stretch) the speed limit on a regular basis. I’m living in the “grace area” there a LOT. Even the troopers extend “grace” to a point. But I don’t want to live in the “grace area” all the time with You. To me that is WRONG! I want to live a life that pleases You. Does this mean You are calling me to stick to the numbers posted on the road signs? Are You bringing this issue to my mind to bring about a change or is Satan trying to use it as a club against me? I need to spend some time talking with You about this.
In ALL areas of my life I want to be pleasing unto You. Please help me know what to work on and what to let go of. I want to hear You say, “Well done good and faithful servant” when we finally meet in person; instead of “You should have listened to Me back then when I said…” Thank You Father for Your grace and the fact that You never give up on me, no matter how long it takes. I love you Lord! Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.