Vanity of the Law

Justin Johnson

In 1 Timothy 1:5-7 Paul mentions some who have swerved from a faith unfeigned unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law. Paul was imprisoned for words like these which seemed contrary to the law tradition of his kinsmen (2 Tim 2:9).

God said through Paul that the law was merely a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Gal 3:24-25).

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” – Gal 5:4

If this is indeed true, then the teaching of the law for justification would surely be vanity.  We already know that the law showed the knowledge of sin and death came by sin!  Where is the message of hope if the offence abounded under the law (Rom 5:20)?

Yet we find Moses declaring the exact opposite in the book of the law!

“For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.” – Deut 32:47

Moses also declared that:

“And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.” – Deut 6:25

It cannot be any more plain that Moses taught righteousness by obedience to the law and knew nothing of the free justification found at the cross.  If he had known then he would not have taught the law but grace.

Instead he was faithful to the instructions the Lord gave him as the dispenser of the schoolmaster which would show a sinful world their need for a Saviour.

What we can learn from these two apparent contradictory verses is that God’s saving grace apart from the law was not made known until first revealed to Paul (1 Tim 1:15-16).

It was not vanity for the Old Testament Jew to teach the law (Deut 6:25). Nor was it vain for the New Testament disciples to teach the fulfillment of the law (Mat 5:19).  But now since the mystery of the cross was revealed and God’s grace dispensed to all men, it would be vanity to place men back under bondage.

“But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” – Gal 3:25

Praise the Lord that through the death of his Son we are delivered from the law into the grace of God which was once unknown but now revealed to all men!

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Published: February 12, 2009
Last Modified: June 7, 2016
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