Summary: A knife is good for cutting your meat, but bad for cleaning your eyes and ears. Every good thing can be used in a way that is improper, and then it become harmful and dangerous, and so it is with the law.
There is mystery enough in life without us adding unnecessary
mysteries of our own making. For example, like the woman who
evicted a man from her boarding house, and when she was asked
why she did it she said, "Something mysterious is going on when a
man hangs his hat over the key hole every time he comes in." She
created the mystery for herself by her own snooping. Others create
mysteries even by their attempts to help. Like the professor who
came upon the man setting in his car whose tire was going low. The
professor said, "I say, your tubular air container has lost most of its
rotundity." The motorist blankly replied, "What?" The professor
said, "The cylindrical apparatus which supports your vehicle is no
longer inflated." Again the motorist responded, "I beg your
pardon." The professor was determined to communicate his point,
and he said, "The elastic fabric surrounding the circular frame
whose successive revolutions bear you onward in space has failed to
retain its pristine roundness." As the motorist scratched his head a
little boy walking by shouted out, "Hey mister, you got a flat tire."
In spite of his vast vocabulary and comprehensive description of
the problem, the professor only added mystery upon mystery to
what was the simplest of problems. Truth is worthless as long as it
is hidden in the obscurity of language. One might just as well be
silent as to make sounds, which convey no meaning to the hearer.
What is even worst is if they sounds convey a false meaning, or one
which the speaker does not intend. This was the case with the
Mexican who was just learning to speak English. His friend told
him that a woman is pleased if you tell her how cool she looks. Not
realizing the significance of the words he thought it was the idea that
was important, and so he told his girlfriend she didn't look very hot.
He learned that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing very quickly.
It is dangerous because it assume too much. It over simplifies, and it
does not grasp the implication involved.
All of these illustrations are similar to what can happen in
theology when men like the boardinghouse owner begin to snoop
into what is none of their business, and try to find out what God has
revealed. Or when they like the professor get unreasonably wordy
and complex about the simplest matters. Or when like the Mexican
they convey just the opposite impression than what their intentions
are because of their ignorance of the language. These were the kinds
of problems that Paul faces at Ephesus, and he asked Timothy to
help him with these problems. Some of the Gentile Christians were
taking it upon themselves to become experts on the law. The Jewish
law was, of course, precious to the Gentiles who became Christians,
for it was the Jews who brought the Gospel to them, and it was the
Jewish Scriptures that would be there source of knowing God's will.
Some wanted to spread the word and teach it that others might
know what God has spoken. The problem was that they had zeal
without knowledge, and this leads to more harm than good. These
men were teaching without adequate understanding, and they were
corrupting the purpose of the law. Paul asked Timothy to try and
curb these self-ordained scholars. Their motive was all right, and
Paul does not condemn the desire they had to teach. This was good,
but they just did not have adequate equipment to do the job. They
were not trained and so they didn't understand. Anyone who thinks
that just being a Christian is all that is needed to understand the
Bible understands neither the Bible nor history. Training is just as
essential in Bible knowledge as it is in any other realm of knowledge.
There has never been a great Bible expositor who was not well trained,
either formerly or self-trained, as was the case with D. L. Moody.
No matter how committed and sincere a believer is, God cannot
use him as a teacher if he is ignorant. However sincere a man is in
getting people healed, I do not want him treating me unless he has
some knowledge of the body and medicine. A man has got to have
knowledge and understanding to be used effectively in any area of
life. Ignorance has never qualified a man to teach anything, and
least of all the law of God.
Paul is bothered by these teachers, for their very earnestness
and zeal make them all the more dogmatic in their ignorance. When
a man knows he loves the Lord, and knows his motive is the glory of
the Lord, his ignorance is all the more dangerous, for he assumes