There are at least three things that affect the proper understanding of Scripture; in this case, Paul's view of the Law: 1) cultural background, 2) educational background, and 3) a teachable spirit. There are other factors, no doubt, but I think these are the most prominent in present Christianity. Christians bring to Scripture their experiences and their denominational background. These affect greatly the proper understanding of Scripture but particularly, Paul's view of the Law. For example, when Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of His time who, by their own standards, follow the Law to perfection, there seems to be a feeling of pleasure when Jesus puts them in their rightful place because of their hypocrisy. "They deserve it", we reason. After all, they thought they were holier than anyone else because God chose them from among all the nations of the world and because they had the Law of God given by Moses.
No doubt they were chosen and they had the Law but, because of their attitude and actions, they gave a bad impression about the Law God gave them at Mount Sinai. Christians, however, by looking into the lives of the same Jews in Jesus' time may arrive to the wrong/distorted conclusion that the Law was evil, unnecessary, and totally irrelevant to the New Covenant that Jesus inaugurated through His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. This is far from the truth for stated that "We know that the law is good when used correctly." So the Law has a place in Christianity and it is relevant to Christian's understanding of it and of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.
In his book, "Paul & the Law", author Frank Thielman takes a meticulous exegetical quest into, and a contextual approach to, Paul's view on the Law. In the back cover of the book there is a statement that goes as follows: "No issue in contemporary Pauline studies is more contested than Paul's view of the law." This statement is really an understatement because the negative view Christians have, or have had, on the Law has caused incongruent conclusions because steps into proper biblical interpretation have not been taken. Paul, no doubt is not a novice in the interpretation of Scripture but a well-prepared expositor with great theological and doctrinal background that was also coupled with the revelation of the living Christ. How Paul addresses or views the Law is a matter of being wise and tactful. He uses the Law according to the issues encountered or as a preventive measure in the churches he has planted or has helped built. Reading this book has caused me to shift my negative view of the Law and see the Law as something, though obsolete under the New Covenant, necessary, revealing, intriguing, and important in understanding the concept of living under the New Covenant.
Paul, soaked in his knowledge of Scripture and seeing through the eyes of Christ, sees now that all the promises God made under the Old Covenant have come to pass in Jesus Christ. Abraham, for example, the father of many nations and a great patriarch for the Jews, was called by God while he was uncircumcised but was circumcised as a mark of God's covenant with him. Now Christians, have been circumcised but not with a physical circumcision but by having a circumcised heart. God promised that one day He will replace the stony hearts of His people with a heart of flesh and that He will put His Law on their minds and write it in their hearts instead of the stone tablets as in Mount Sinai when He gave the Law to Moses. Paul sees the fulfillment of these promises in those who, by faith in Christ, have received the Spirit of God who searches all things; even the deep things of God. What Paul is doing with the Law is using it to his advantage in order to propagate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles. Even in his view of the Law, and according to the way author Frank Thielman presented Paul's view of the Law, Paul sees that there is a new chosen generation; the new people of God. I believe that Paul is seeing both Jews and Gentiles under the New Covenant as the Israel of God in contrast to the God of Israel, which was a chosen people settled in a geographical place and separated from other nations because of the precepts and ordinances of the Law of Moses. Paul addresses his churches as the new people of God who are called to be holy, separated from the world system they now live in. I believe that Mr. Thielman did an excellent exegetical study of Paul's view of the Law. He took many of the diverse opinions and interpretation and dealt with them by letting Scripture, with the help of the Holy Spirit, interpret Scripture.