Thursday, 18 September 2014
…to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 1 Corinthians 9:21
Paul has been addressing his willingness to spread the gospel to all classes of people in all ways. In the previous verse, he addressed those who lived as national Jews as himself being a national Jew. He also addressed those who lived under the law (meaning those who lived as religious Jews) as himself living as if he were under the law. At the same time, he now addresses those who are “without law.” This is a reference to the Gentile peoples, of whom he is the apostle.
In his apostleship to them, he lived “as without law.” In other words, they are without the Law of Moses and he showed that they were acceptable to Christ in that fashion. Paul notes that he so lived in that manner as well, through his words and through his writings. It is Christ which makes you acceptable to God, not adhering to the precepts of the law. However, he then qualifies his statement by saying in a parenthetical thought that though “not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ.”
The law which he was under was God’s law that reveals Christ. It is the understood law that man is infected with sin and that the only remedy to that problem is the cross of Jesus Christ. Christ is the embodiment of the law, having fulfilled it in our stead. When we place our trust in Him, we should have the desire to fulfill the law of conscience written on our hearts and be observant to the moral laws which are ingrained in us. Paul notes this in the early chapters of Romans. No one can be absolutely without law and be pleasing to God. Therefore we are not without law toward God because we are under law toward Christ.
This “law” which he observed has now been revealed in the writings of the New Testament. Particularly in Paul’s words which are doctrine for the church. When we follow these guidelines, we are emulating what Christ would have for us because they are the inspired words which have been given for this purpose.
Paul lived this life that he mentions so “that I might win those who are without law.” Once they were won to Christ by him, they could be rightly instructed in the “law toward Christ.” Faith through grace saves. However, salvation implies being obedient to the One who has saved us. We are not without law in this regard; we do not have license to sin. The teaching that being in Christ means we have complete license to act as we wish is known as the antinomian error and it is something that is warned against throughout his writings.
Life application: We are all slaves to something. If we are a slave to Christ, then we are free from sin’s condemnation. However, we are not free from sins consequences. If we live in sin after being saved by Christ, we will suffer the consequences of our sin. But we have been given freedom to live for Christ. Use that freedom wisely and live in a manner which will glorify our Lord.
In Christ I am freed from sin’s condemnation
In Christ I have been saved through and through
But in Christ I may still suffer tribulation
This is something I should expect, I know it’s true
How much more when I fail to properly heed
The words and directions He has given for my life!
If I act against his words in tongue and in deed
Should I expect anything but trouble and strife?
Rather, I will keep my nose deep in His word
And then apply its precepts to my walk each day
In grateful obedience to my gracious Lord
Yes, I will thankfully walk in His holy way
Yes Lord God, how can I expect to do my own thing and ignore Your word and yet be blessed by You? I will not be so presumptuous, but rather I will continue to meditate on Your word, cling to its precepts, and let them guide my walk to the very best of my ability. Be with me and strengthen me in this endeavor my Lord. And thank You in advance for hearing and responding! Amen.