Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from the Scripture
1 Tim. 1.5 – The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
The Apostle Paul begins this short letter to Timothy by urging him (Timothy) to “charge” certain persons at Ephesus not to teach any different doctrines. Different it would seem from what had been taught to them already. Paul had spent a great deal of time teaching in Ephesus previously (somewhere between 2 to 3 years), and had already sent them the letter that we have in the New Testament as the book of Ephesians. They were not novices in the truth. But men are often not content with the truth only. We like embellishment, and especially to speculate beyond what has been revealed. When we do so, and then teach such speculations, it spirals into more and more speculation and fanciful ideas until the truth itself gets left far behind. Such was the case here. Such was the need to blow the speculative smoke away, and bring clarity back to the Church.
Timothy certainly had his work cut out for him.
But notice how in our text, Paul breathes out the most simple and sweet reminder regarding the main things. If only we could keep hitting the reset button like Paul does here, and restore the system to its essentials. How clear and vital and alive this 5th verse is. You can just sit and savor it for a bit. Let its finer characteristics seep out into the full-bodied brew it is intended to be for the heart and mind. Don’t rush past it. You’ll miss the richness of its texture.
Four things then.
First, the aim of our charge, is love. We must never forget that the goal of all Gospel preaching and ministry is to bring the hearts of men and women to know the love of God for them in Christ, and to stimulate love in them for God and man. Love fulfills the Law. The whole of man’s existence is built around it. Right love for God, and right love for man will bring us to the full maturity of the sons and daughters of God. Paul had written to the Ephesians earlier that he has been praying for them “before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:14-19).
Second, we need to remember that such love can only flow from a “pure heart.” It is an echo of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus – “you must be born again.” Apart from regeneration, such love is impossible. There is no such thing as genuine Christianity apart from the new birth. Everything else is mere religion – no matter how orthodox the actual doctrine and teaching are. Those who would posit one can be a Christian and not be supernaturally raised from the dead by the Spirit of God are most severely mistaken. It is the difference between Heaven and Hell – though the outward practices may be virtually identical.
Third, such love must find peace in a “good conscience”. A good conscience must find its peace only in what God says can bring it peace – the imputed righteousness of Christ. A bad conscience is one that either remains defiled and guilty because the person is unreconciled to God in Christ, or promises peace to itself because it has become hard to the perfection God requires, or one that finds its peace in conforming to human rules and regulations. Only when the conscience is good – informed by truth and settled upon the finished work of Christ, can love flow freely and genuinely.
Fourth, the love aimed at must be founded upon a sincere faith. In other words, it must have a faith which is focused upon the right object. Love cannot come out of a mere faith-in-faith – the thought that as long as one “believes”, it doesn’t matter who or what they believe. Nor can love flow out of faith in that which is not meant to save. I have faith that God created the universe, but that is not saving faith – it does nothing to make me righteous. Faith, in order to save, in order to obtain the righteousness of God, must be faith in Jesus Christ, and His substitutionary death in my place at Calvary. Nothing less and nothing other will do. It must be a sincere faith – that is in no way resting upon anything other that Christ and Him crucified.
The aim of our charge is love. Love that issues from a heart made pure in Christ. Love that flows from an easy, untroubled conscience because it rests in the finished work of Christ. Love that has as its object of trust and confidence – Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God – alone. That, is something to aim at.