Like all tools, the Law of Moses is limited in what it is able to do, and because they did not understand this vital truth, the false teachers in Ephesus misused the Torah. Far from being a proof-text for esoteric theories based on its genealogies (1 Tim. 1:3–4), God designed the Law to confront sin (vv. 8–10). Paul tells us elsewhere that the Mosaic law is able to point people to Jesus (Gal. 3:24), but it cannot by itself give us the faith needed to lay hold of the Savior’s benefits. The Law is also very useful as a guide to living a holy life, for believers can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, love others and thereby fulfill its commandments (Rom. 13:10). Yet because of its limitations, the Torah is unable to show us each and every way we may obey its principle of love; therefore, we must learn how to read the Law at the feet of Jesus in order to apply it rightly (Matt. 5:17–48).
The law of Moses condemns everything “contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:9–10). Note that the phrase “sound doctrine” literally means “health-giving doctrine” in the Greek, so we have proof in this verse of the connection between orthodox theology and right, spiritually healthy living. But since the Law can only oppose those things that are against health-giving doctrine, the Torah by itself cannot make us spiritually well. Due to the way fallen men twist it, the Law must be seen in light of the gospel, for the gospel, through its application to us by God the Holy Spirit, gives us life (Rom. 16:25). Therefore, using the Mosaic law to confront sin and to point to Jesus agrees with the gospel, for the gospel is the solution to the problem of sin the Law identifies (1 Tim. 1:11). If the Mosaic law is used for speculation or preached as a way to earn the Lord’s favor, it is not rightly read in light of the good news of God’s salvation.
Our individual redemption, while a gift of the gospel, is not the final goal of the gospel. “The glory of the blessed God” is the ultimate end of the good news. Dr. John MacArthur explains, “The gospel reveals God’s glory, that is, the perfections of His person or attributes, including His holiness (hatred of sin) and justice (demand of punishment for violations of His Law) and grace (forgiveness of sin)” (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1, 778).