๐Ÿ‘‘ Don’t Take the Lord’s Law in Vain

In listing the qualifications of a pastor (Titus 1:6-8), Paul told Titus a pastor must always be “holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught” (Titus 1:9), adding,

“For there are many…ย vain talkers…” (Titus 1:10).

What do you think those “vain talkers” wereย saying?ย Well, since Paul warnedย Timothyย about men who “turned aside untoย vain jangling; desiring to beย teachers of the law” (I Tim. 1:6,7), it’s likely the “vain talkers” Paul warned Titus about wereย alsoย teaching the Law.

This isย especiallyย likely since these “vain talkers” were “speciallyโ€ฆof the circumcision.”ย The Jews of the circumcisionย lovedย the Law of Moses (John 9:28,29), and understandably so. After all, the Law was once the word that spiritual leaders in Israel were expected to hold fast! But part of the “faithful word” Paul teachesย usย to hold fast was the precious truth that “we are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:15).

How important is it to recognize this dispensational change? Paul insists that teaching the law to people under grace is “vain.” I wonder if he was thinking of how Samuel used that word to warn God’s people aboutย idolatry, saying,

“โ€ฆturn ye not aside… after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliverโ€ฆ”ย (I Sam. 12:21).

We know these “vain things” were idols, for God often associates idolatry with such “vanities” (Jer. 10:14,15; 16:19,20). This suggests that Paul called the teaching of the Law “vain” because they of the circumcisionย made an idol out of it. Of course! Any time God’s people refuse to let go of something that is no longer a part of His program, it becomes an idol. Remember, Hezekiah had to destroy the brazen serpent Moses lifted up when God’s people later began to worship it (II Ki. 18:4).

But did you notice how Samuel defined the word “vain” asย something that cannot profit or deliver?ย That was certainly true of idols in ancient Israel, but it isย alsoย true of the Law in the dispensation of grace. You see, that word “deliver” is another word forย save,ย as we see when we compare how Paul quoted the prophet Joel (Joel 2:32 cf. Rom. 10:13).

And that’sย anotherย reason Paul called the teaching of the Law “vain.” In the dispensation of grace, the Law can’tย profitย orย deliverย orย saveย anyone now that its time is past, any more than the brazen serpent could onceย itsย time was past.

Granted, the Lawย used to be able to save.ย That’s why the David declared, “The law of the LORD is perfect,ย converting the soul”ย (Ps. 19:7). And that’s why he added, “I hateย vainย thoughts:ย but Thy law do I love”ย (Ps. 119:113). Obviously the Law wasn’t vain when it was part of God’s program! It wasn’t unprofitable back then because itย couldย deliver and save men’s souls, when people like Zacharias and Elizabeth obeyed it blamelessly (Luke 1:6). But now people are saved by receiving Christ by theย graceย of God (Eph. 2:8), and Paul tells us toย walkย in the same grace that saved us (Col. 2:6).

Do you see howย crucialย it is toย alwaysย study God’s word by “rightly dividing” it (II Tim. 2:15)? Unless you recognize the division between God’s plan for Israel in time past and His plan for people living today, you can’t even be sure of the plan of salvation, nor “how ye ought to walk and to please God” once you are saved (I Thes. 4:1). In time past, God’s people walked in the Law (Ex. 16:4), but no longer!

This is why Paul told Titus that a pastor must always be found “holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught,” for the “word” Paul taught was “the word of His grace” (Acts 20:32)! May all of God’s pastors and all of God’s peopleย hold it fast! source

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