TRUE OR DIFFERENT?
Lord God, your Word is truth. I ask that, through your words for me today, I will walk closer to you.
Read 1 TIMOTHY 1:1-11
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy my true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Timothy Charged to Oppose False Teachers
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
May we approach the Word with open eyes to gaze afresh on the glorious gospel of Christ.
Having greeted his ‘son in the faith’ (v 2), Paul reveals the purpose of this letter: the guarding in Ephesus of sound doctrine (v 3). Initially, Paul’s focus of concern is false teachers.
How is the battle for truth going for you? I dare to say that truth as a valued commodity is at risk in our cultures, whether explicitly or subtly. Interestingly, Paul labels these teachers in Ephesus as ‘false’ not just because of lies they may speak, but also because of their devotion to meaningless talk, causing controversy and a drifting from the things that really matter: namely love flowing from ‘a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith’ (v 5). Indeed, one may argue that the Greek word translated as ‘false’ (v 3, NIV) could be more helpfully translated as ‘different’ (ESV). One detects a weariness in Paul’s tone as he speaks of ‘myths and endless genealogies’ (v 4) that pollute the truth. This is a particular challenge to teachers, in guarding against the subtleness of difference clouding the gospel message. I regretfully reflect on when I’ve focused on interesting ideas and theories in my teaching that, while not untrue, may distract from the glorious gospel of Christ.
Paul urges Timothy not only to defend against a departure from sound doctrine but also to guard this ‘gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God’ (v 11). Paul is clear to Timothy concerning the necessary good use of the Law: to reveal to sinners their desperate condition and to find grace in the glorious gospel of Christ. May we rejoice that ‘we are no longer “under” the law, but that God has sent his Son to die for us and graciously put his Spirit within us in order that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us.’1
Take a moment to reflect on those things that may dominate your conversations and may divert attention from the gospel of Christ.
Mighty God, thank you for the gospel applied to my life. Give me your wisdom and strength to live it and declare it with truth and grace.
1 John Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, IVP, 1996, p50
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