Last Sunday we began a new series called ‘The God Alive Church’ – a journey through 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus.
1 Timothy is a letter written by Apostle Paul who was once a persecutor of Christians, a Jew and a Roman citizen. He would kill everyone who professed the name of Jesus and followed him. He became a Christian after a real time encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and since then he’s been involved in the Kingdom work planting churches all over.
Paul is writing this letter to a young man called Timothy whom he met in Lystra, he was born to a Jewish mother who later became a Christian and a Greek father.
Since the time Timothy met Paul he he’s been travelling with him on all his trips. Paul considered him as his own son.
Timothy was sent by Paul to the church in Ephesus and we learnt the purpose of this letter was
1. Advising Timothy about issues in the church at Ephesus and to refute the false teaching that was prevalent.
False teaching is any kind of teaching..
– that isn’t rooted in the truth and takes people away from God
– that twists our beliefs and distorts our understanding of God
– that damages our relationship with Jesus
– that takes away the joy of salvation
One of the main responsibility of church leaders is to protect the truth of the Gospel from false teaching.
False teaching in Ephesus was damaging the church of Jesus and Timothy is charged by Paul to speak up and address the issue.
2. The second purpose of the letter are instructions on how church members should conduct themselves in the household of God.
Throughout 1 Timothy you will see Paul either talking about false teaching or the conduct of believers in the church.
In our passage today which is 1 Timothy 1:3-7 Paul is advising Timothy against false teaching and there are some interesting things we can learn from them.
verse 3 – Note, Paul uses a very strong word ‘Command’ when he tells Timothy to speak to the people spreading false teaching.
These people were teaching other doctrine which was not in-line with the doctrine of the true Gospel.
Their teachings were based on Myths, a traditional story concerning early history of people often based on natural or social phenomenon.
How was it harming the church?
verse 4 – These teachings were promoting empty speculations, forming theory or conjecture without firm evidence and instead of devoting themselves to Godly things they were getting involved in fruitless discussion and wasting their time and energy.
In verse 5 Paul distinguishes his teachings from the others by saying “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”
Verse 7 – It seems that these people were not necessarily the bad guys trying to pollute the church but they themselves did not understand what they were saying or what they were insisting on. They were ignorant people.
Here are some practical lessons we can learn from this passage which can be applied to our lives.
1. Empathize with your leaders and appreciate their role in your life.
Like I said before Paul uses a very strong word ‘Command’, he is not saying to Timothy to urge them or request them to stop talking rubbish.
As you know, in today’s generation, especially in the church context commanding words are not really a cool thing to say or use. But still when it comes to the point of protecting the Gospel God wants his leaders to exercise every bit of their authority to refute and correct the person or people disrupting his church.
Think about how demanding task it is for leaders – and if we fail in doing so the bible says we are accountable to God.
Hebrews 13:17 says “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
With that in mind how do we empathize with our leaders?
Here are some things to consider:
– Pray for your leaders that they may be faithful to God and protect the Gospel message
– Thank God for their role in your life and in the life of the Church
– Submit to your leaders
– Obey your leaders
– Make their work a joy
2. Pay attention and form right doctrinal framework for yourself.
In the Ephesus church people were teaching other doctrine that was not in accordance with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As you know that the gospel is simple truth very well summarized in John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son to die for us and whosoever believes in him will have eternal life”
The biggest tactic the enemy uses against God’s people is to confuse us by adding unwanted things to the gospel.
Sadly Christians often fall into the enemies trap because of our own negligence of not studying and rooting our believes in the truth of God’s word. Because of our own lack of not paying attention to the message of the true Gospel and failure to form the right doctrinal framework.
Darkness only creeps in when the light is not bright enough.
Our understanding of the gospel and the scriptures should be so strong that none of the wrong teachings out there should confuse us to believe in empty speculations.
Q- How much time do we dedicate in listening and learning the scriptures on a daily basis?
Q- How often do we meditate on God’s word?
Q- When we invest our time in all others activities during the day how much of importance do we give to God’s word?
2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Our failure to listen and form a right doctrinal framework will often lead us into believing the lies and empty speculations of the enemy distracting us from the purposes of God.
3. Approach with Love from pure heart, good conscience and since faith.
As Paul emphasizes in verse 5 says “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”.
This should be our approach as children of God. We will find ourselves in unpleasant circumstances and unfruitful discussions. But as Paul writes our approach should always be Love from pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith.
A Love that is gospel driven.
In Jesus’s instructions to his disciples in Matthew 18:15-17 we can see how he stresses on the point “but he listens to you, you have gained your brother”. He is saying that if your brother repents forgive him and accept him.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
“Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” also indicates that the approach should be made with a good conscience, which means we need to be walking rightly with God before we approach another brother, so that you are kept away from sinning.
1 Timothy 1:19 – “holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith”
And a faith that firm and not shaky.
4. Refrain from teaching from the word of God until you have understood the whole counsel of God.
Not necessarily these people who were saying ungodly things has wrong motive in mind. The verse says “They want to be teachers of the law, although they don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on.”
Yes, it is possible for any of us to make an error while teaching from God’s word if we do not have the right understanding of the Gospel and whole counsel of God.
It is easy to read a scripture and think and talk about it completely out of context and therefore we need to super careful with our words.
And that is what Point no 2 is very important which is forming your own theological framework.
Until we have understood the whole counsel of God it is better to refrain from teaching from the word of God to others.
In conclusion, let’s bring our heart to God and allow him to convict our hearts if we have not been obedient to the things we just spoke about and let’s make a decision to follow them with all honesty and dependence on God.