The Battle for Truth (Part 1)
1 Timothy 1:3-7
Primary Truth Taught- Biblical truth has as its goal love, flowing from a pure heart a good conscience and a sincere faith
I want to read the entire account in Acts this morning of Paul bidding his Ephesian friends goodbye. The reason I want to read this portion in its entirety is to ask you to listen closely and discern the difference between a man of God with a God given ministry and a false teacher with a self-appointed ministry. This will lead us into our passage today in 1 Timothy 1…
Acts 20:17–38 (ESV)
17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.
Human Need Met
Everyone here has the temptation to always be looking for something new. If we’re not careful we can go from one new thing to the next and never be truly satisfied.
Novelty when it comes to doctrinal truth is never good. We must fight for the faith once delivered to the saints, we must be completely satisfied with the Old, Old, Story, not some new doctrine. New is never good when it comes to biblical truth. Fight for truth and resist the temptation to chase after an innovative idea.
This is Timothy’s charge…fight for truth!
Please hear God’s Word for us today, may the Lord give us ears to hear and minds to understand and hearts that rejoice over His Word.
1 Timothy 1:1–7 (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.
In reading church history one realizes very quickly that there has always been those who are in the church setting themselves up as teachers. These self-appointed teachers usually have a hidden agenda. Many times they are so interested in gaining followers for themselves that they begin promoting a new or literally, a novel doctrine.
Ignatius to Polycarp…
3:1 Let not those that seem to be plausible and yet
teach strange doctrine dismay thee. Stand thou firm,
as an anvil when it is smitten. It is the part of a
great athlete to receive blows and be victorious. But
especially must we for God’s sake endure all things,
that He also may endure us.
A generation earlier, we have basically the same dynamic going on in Ephesus as Paul urges Timothy to stay in the church and command certain people to cease teaching false or strange doctrine.
Paul was no stranger to confronting false teaching he did so in Galatia…
Galatians 1:6 (ESV)
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
It is the different gospel or different teaching that Paul was so concerned about.
He also saw the dynamic as he traveled through Athens…
Acts 17:21 (ESV)
21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
If we read 1 Timothy 1:3-4 carefully, we’ll discover that what Paul told Timothy to do was to charge or literally command certain people to stop teaching false doctrine and stop spending time contemplating false doctrine. They were promoting it and spending an unbelievable amount of time thinking about it, almost like the Athenians who spent all day considering the newest idea.
myths and endless genealogies- As near as scholars can tell, what Paul had in mind was a Jewish practice that found its way into the Church of Ephesus. The Jewish leadership had the practice of taking a name found in the Old Testament and invent stories about that person. These myths were endless according to Paul. They would spin enormous yarns about some figure in the OT or in the genealogies found in various places. These stories would even be taught in the synagogues. The only thing that they produced was controversy and confusion.
It would be like someone teaching about Jesus when He was between the ages of 1-12 years old. The Bible is silent so we don’t know what Jesus did in those years. We can’t make up stories about Him as a child because we do not know, by the way, what a waist of time to ponder fictional stories and to promote them as truth.
All these stories did were to promote speculations.
You see Paul’s point is that no one comes to Christ through self-centered fiction. All these false teachers wanted was to be viewed as smarter than everyone else. They wanted people to follow them rather than Christ.
Do we have people like that today? People who twist things and make up things to gain a following?
I firmly believe that most churches today are the result of heretical teaching. If you go to visit one of these, you’ll discover that they have been misled as to what the true Gospel is. They promote a works salvation and teach faulty things about Jesus Christ. Yet, these churches are continually filled each week leading multitudes down the path of destruction.
So, Paul has taught us that false teaching (that form of doctrine that is against what is in the Bible or entirely missing from the Bible) leads to a devotion to myths, deception, and endless speculation…and end the end, leads to hell.
5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
On an individual level, truth produces much more within us than error ever could. To learn about God correctly and to learn the true Gospel will result in our exercising faith towards God and love towards God as we repent and trust Him our hearts and our consciences will be pure.
5 The aim of our charge is love–
Timothy must stop the heresy, which has been spewing out of the mouths of these false teachers. He then must replace it with truth. According to Paul truth will produce love towards God. The goal of truth, according to the Apostle Paul, is love. This is love for God and for others. Our desire for God will increase. Our delight in God will increase. Our gratefulness toward God will become stronger and stronger. We will cherish Him and He will become our treasure. False teaching cannot produce these strong emotions, which delight in God more and more.
I pray this is what we all desire. I pray we desire to love God more and more every day.
Timothy was combating false teaching but what about truth being misused?
My question is this…what if a person has a desire to learn truth from the Bible but then is never engaged in expressing love for God or love for others. I believe this exposes a fatal flaw in their mind. In their thinking, truth is only for them and knowing more about God is the end. Loving God is the end. We must never confuse knowledge of God with loving God. If a person is converted the knowledge of God will flood their emotions resulting in love for God. If a person is not converted then their knowledge puffs them up and it becomes dead orthodoxy. So, our goal in learning God is love for Him and others.
Matthew 22:36–40 (ESV)
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
I pray this is what you experience as you learn more and more about our Lord.
Where does this type of love for God come from?
Paul tells us that it…issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
First, a pure heart is the heart that has been washed clean by the blood of Christ. Secondly, and the Greek points this out to us, it is the heart that is continually being made pure. It may seem contradictory at first because if something is pure it cannot be made more pure but specifically the idea is that the pure heart gets defiled and is no longer pure so it needs cleaned up again…Literally, having repeated defilement repeatedly cleansed away.
Sort of like your favorite coffee cup that you wash each time you use it. It must be repeatedly cleaned.
Matthew 23:25–26 (ESV)
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
How do we remain pure or clean to God?
The pure heart is first a converted heart and secondly, a heart that is continually kept clean through repentance and forgiveness of sin.
Biblical truth will produce a pure heart whereas false doctrine will produce a defiled heart.
What Paul means by a good conscience is that our conscience being good will accurately give us a true self-assessment. In other words it is usable to reveal to us ourselves.
False teachers do not have a good conscience and thus cannot produce godly love.
1 Timothy 1:18–20 (ESV)
18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Biblical truth produces a clean, clear, or good conscience; false teaching produces a seared or useless conscience.
By sincere faith, Paul has in mind a sincere trust and reliance on God, literally, without hypocrisy.
These three virtues produce the type and degree of love God desires us to have. Again, the goal of biblical truth is love.
So, it works like this:
Let’s say we are desperately wanting something we don’t have. We learn from reading the Bible that we are not to covet things but instead be thankful for what God has given us…
Exodus 20:17 (ESV)
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
You have been feeling guilty about desiring this thing so much. You’re unhappy and feel almost anxious because you don’t have this thing. Then you’re reading the Bible and run across a passage in James that says…
James 4:1–10 (ESV)
4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Then you get it…You’ve been so unhappy because you’ve been stuck in the passionate desire for something you can’t have because you want it more than you want God. James has just hit you between the eyes with truth. So, you repent and seek God’s forgiveness, your heart is made pure again, your conscience is now working again, and your faith is strong again. You finally get it, I should be thankful for what I have rather than always wanting what I can’t have.
False teachers will tell you, you should have everything you desire and that your faith, working correctly will give it to you. There is no repentance no forgiveness just more and more sin, fighting, and unhappiness.
Only truth produces these three wonderful godly virtues.
Why are people tempted to teach a strange doctrine?
Gather followers after themselves…
Justify a certain sin in their own life…
Why are people tempted to sit under false teaching?
Justify their own sin
Align themselves with doctrines that promote their own interests
2 Timothy 4:3–4 (ESV)
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
How does truth produce all these virtues?
Pure heart, Good Conscience, Sincere faith
Truth confronts us with sin and challenges the believer to deal with it. We see the truth and then we repent and go to God for forgiveness.
Biblical truth is what produces the love God desires us to have. No promise from charismatic heresy can produce love.
Declaration of Grace