In general outlaws are thieves, robbers, and homicides. Let us look at what Paul says about the issue: “As knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for the sexually immoral, for homosexuals, for slave-traders, for liars, for perjurers, and for any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:9-10). The outlaws act during the dark hours, in secret, or cover their faces so they are not recognized. The outlaws dwell in the slums, the ghettos and also in the palaces. There are many outlaws so astute that the law is not able to punish them.
There are also other kinds of outlaws. They are those faithful, honest, clean and correct men. These are situated outside the law, because they are beyond reproach, for the law was not made for the righteous, as the apostle Paul says.
Let us analyze the law of Jehovah. About it, David said: “Jehovah law is perfect, restoring the soul. Jehovah’s testimony is sure, making wise the simple. Jehovah precepts are right, rejoicing the heart. Jehovah ‘s commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:7-8). Another psalmist says: “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness. Your law is truth” (Ps. 119:142). And David declares: “The law of his God is in his heart. None of his steps shall slide” (Ps. 37:31). Jehovah said: “My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him that he might be reverent toward me; and he was reverent toward me, and stood in awe of my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found in his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many away from iniquity” (Mal. 2:5-6).
The New Testament, though, says something else about the law of Jehovah, destroying the justice of the law: “Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). Paul says that the Christians are not under the law of Jehovah any longer, but under grace, and therefore sin does not have dominium over them (Rom. 6:14). Grace is total and unconditional forgiveness. God, the Father decreed this forgiveness, rather, this grace, on the cross, where Jesus died for all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). We are delivered from the law through grace, for the law brings sin to light. How can this be? If the law forbids sin, how can it bring it to light? Everything that is out of our reach produces in us the desire to possess it. And this desire is concupiscence. The law forbids sin, or, the law forbids us to desire our neighbor’s things. The prohibition of the law increases the desire for our neighbor’s good things. This desire, or concupiscence, leads the person to avail themselves of illicit means to obtain what they desire. So, the law feeds the concupiscence by means of the prohibition. Paul says: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? May it never be! However, I wouldn’t have known sin, except through the law. For I wouldn’t have known coveting, unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, finding occasion through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of coveting. For apart from the law, sin is dead” (Rom.7:7-8). If without law sin was dead, the law resurrects sin; and this sin, in turn, kills the sinner (Rom. 7:9). The conclusion of Paul is: “The commandment, which was for life, this I found to be for death; for sin, finding occasion through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me” (Rom. 7:10-11). In the universal epistle of James, we have an explanation: “But each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). Now, if the law operates by the prohibition—the concupiscence—and this concupiscence conceives the sin that, after consummated, begets death, we can affirm that the law gives birth to sin, and also to death.
This is why the prophet Ezekiel declared: “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins, he shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). But Paul proceeds with his analysis, saying: “Therefore the law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good” (Rom. 7:12). “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). A holy and spiritual law could not be given to the carnal man and sold under sin. One does not give spiritual food to the carnal-born, for sin dwells in the flesh. Paul says: “For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice. But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the law, that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present” (Rom. 7:19-21). In the flesh the law of sin dwells, which is stronger than the law of Jehovah. This law is the evil and sinful nature of the carnal man, therefore Paul adds: “For I delight in God’s law after the inward man, but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:22-23). Doubtless the law of sin, which inhabits our flesh, is stronger than the law of Jehovah, and man sins, even when he does not want to. It should be very clear that the law is weak and useless to the natural man. The man born of the carnal seed is corruptible. Paul tells us so: “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is not appraised by no man” (1 Cor. 2:14-15).
The spiritual man is a new creature. Paul says: “So if any man is in Christ, he is in a new world: the old things have come to an end; they have truly become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). “For the natural man is not able to take in the things of the Spirit of God: for they seem foolish to him, and he is not able to have knowledge of them, because such knowledge comes only through the Spirit. But he who has the Spirit, though judging all things, is himself judged by no one” (Eph. 2:10). “That you are to put away, in relation to your earlier way of life, the old man, which has become evil by love of deceit; and be made new in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, to which God has given life, in righteousness and a true and holy way of living” (Eph. 4:22-24). Men and women, whom God the Father of Jesus Christ made, came to the light only through Jesus. And they are the true children of God. John said: “To all those who did so take him, however, he gave the right of becoming children of God–that is, to those who had faith in his name: Whose birth was from God and not from blood, or from an impulse of the flesh and man’s desire” (John 1:12-13). And James follows through, saying: “Of his purpose he gave us being, by his true word, so that we might be, in a sense, the first-fruits of all the things which he had made” (James 1:18). The first-fruits are the first to be created. God the Father’s creation began in Jesus Christ.
There is a small aspect: These new creatures of God are, from Jesus on, delivered from the law (Rom. 7:6). And they are not under the law (Rom. 6:14). And why is it? That is because new creatures are not guided by the law, but by the Holy Spirit, and for this reason the apostle to the Gentiles says: If you are guided by the Holy Spirit you are not under the law. And all those who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom. 8:13-14). Therefore, those who were under the law could not have been children of God, but they were children of Jehovah (Deut. 14:1-2).
If the law of Jehovah, spiritual and holy as it is, given to the people of Jehovah, which were not new creatures, could only multiply evil (Rom. 7:5; 1 Cor. 15:56); and if the law is also taken off the Christian, who are born again and led by the Holy Spirit, then the law was useless (Heb. 7:18-19). The sacrifices of the law were useless (Heb. 10:1,8-10). Astonishing! Many Christians think that the law was given to help correct man, but, on the contrary, it was given to destroy and kill, for it is of no avail to the spiritual man. It was a snare. John says: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and the true way of life are ours through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira