“Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (I Timothy 1:7).
Since “we are not under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:15), what possible motive could someone have to teach the law? Well, in Paul’s day, the men most likely to desire to cling to the law were Jews (Acts 15:1). Speaking of them, Paul told Titus:
“…there are many unruly and vain talkers…of the circumcision…who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Titus 1:10,11).
The thing that these circumcision Jews “ought not” to have been teaching was the law, which they taught for the same reason men teach the law today—because there is money in it. Satan always makes sure that undispensational truth is popular, and teaching what is popular is always a lucrative endeavor!
For instance, in time past, God’s message to Israel was that He was going to use Nebuchadnezzar to conquer the nation to chasten her for her iniquities (Jer. 25:9). But false prophets in Israel were assuring God’s people it would never happen, that they would continue to enjoy peace (Jer. 23:17). Which of those two messages do you think was more popular, and thus more lucrative?
Of course, when Israel was obedient to God’s law, His message to them was a message of peace, but when they rebelled against His law, that message became one dispensation too late. Well, today the law is one dispensation too late, but it is as popular and as profitable as undispensational teaching has always been. People are religious by nature, and the law appeals to their religious “flesh” (Gal. 3:3). And that which appeals to a man’s religious flesh is always going to be as popular and as lucrative a business as that which appeals to his carnal flesh (II Cor. 11:20).
When Paul added that those teachers of the law understood “neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm,” that was a polite way of saying they didn’t know what they were talking about! All because they were one dispensation too late in their teaching. What’s that say about all those “desiring to be teachers of the law” in our own day?
Maybe you are thinking, “If the goal of the law is to get us to love God and our neighbor (I Tim. 1:5), and we’re not under the law, does that mean God doesn’t want us to love God and our neighbor?” Of course He does! But now such loving charity is the goal of a new commandment. You see, when Paul said that “the end of the commandment is charity” (I Tim. 1:5), he wasn’t just referring to the goal of the ten commandments.
Remember, Paul opened this epistle by insisting that he was an apostle “by the commandment of God” (I Tim. 1:1), and in the dispensation of grace, the goal of that commandment is charity out of a pure heart. The goal of Paul’s God-ordained apostleship is to get people saved and loving God and their neighbor, just as it was under the law. The difference is, in this dispensation, “the love of Christ constraineth us” to serve Him (II Cor. 5:14), not the fear of what will happen to us if we disobey Him, as was the case under the law. That’s the motivation of love, not law! That’s the motivation of grace.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.