“…knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).
1 Timothy 1:9-10 offers a sample list of attitudes and behaviors that illustrate the proper function of the Old Testament Law. That function serves to identify appropriate and inappropriate conduct. We can look to the portion of the Law that contains the Ten Commandments for greater insight into this important role.
For instance, the Ten Commandments follow a distinct pattern. The first four Commandments are vertical in nature- they concern our responsibility toward God. The following six commandments involve our horizontal relationships with others. That division is important for if our vertical relationship with God is not what it should be, our horizontal relationships with others are not likely to be what they should be either.
Jesus also identified the foundation of the Law in response to the following question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36). Jesus addressed that question in the following manner…
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets'” (Matthew 22:37-40).
With this in mind, it’s not surprising to find that the first two sample violations of the Law from 1 Timothy 1:9 involve lawlessness and disobedience. Since we can associate the lawless with those who refuse to adhere to authority, disobedience is the inevitable result. The same can be said of the ungodly, for it is impossible to emulate the character of a Being we refuse to recognize.
Next comes “the unholy.” The word “holiness” means “set apart” and expresses the idea of complete moral purity. Since God is completely separate from anything that is wrong, dirty, or corrupt, those who are “unholy” are likely to exhibit such ungodly characteristics.
Finally, we have “the profane.” This phrase describes an irreligious person who tramples the things of God without interest or concern for his or her Creator. While “profanity” is often associated with coarse or inappropriate language, we might associate the “profane” in this context with those who choose to live as if God did not exist and conduct their lives accordingly.