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No Other Doctrine! 1 Timothy 1:3-11

30/01/2015

No Other Doctrine

The law is good if one uses it lawfully!
Text: 1 Timothy 1:3-11
Timothy’s mission in Ephesus will not be an easy task – he MUST understand the purpose of the law. That is imperative, – for there are two classic errors that Christians can make, just by not fully appreciating the purpose of the law.

  • They could fall into the trap of antinomianism! The belief that the law was no longer relevant, and could be ignored. Now bereft of any standards at all, the Christian could live any way he or she liked. Lawlessness.
  • They could fall into the trap of legalism! Where Christianity is nothing other than a list of rules, so that the Christian life just becomes a burden, a burden where often we fail to keep our list of rules and then become real hypocrites by criticising others who don’t keep the same rules that we can’t keep ourselves.

So just after his greeting and his blessing, Paul writes, ‘We know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully.’ So, Timothy and the local church, and the people with strange ideas, and … yes, we too, must understand the purpose of the law.

1. The Troublesome Few! V3
People had become distracted by pointlessness, – so much so that the message of the gospel was being lost in the pursuit of that pointlessness. Let’s see that in our text:

  1. People were teaching false doctrine. charge some that they teach no other doctrine, This is not just ‘any other doctrine’ – they were to be reminded that there is only ONE Gospel – not a series of optional ‘gospels.’
  2. People were distracted by irrelevant revelations. Look at what they were talking about:
    1. Fables. Myths. Gnostics – people who dealt in unprovable myths, who claimed they had received this ‘knowledge’ by direct revelation. Little bits of Christianity, muddled up with bits of other religions and human philosophies, and while these people are engaging in their myths and fables, lost sinners are not hearing the truth of God’s Word, and are going into a lost eternity.
    2. Endless genealogies. This was a particularly Jewish thing. They loved tracing their roots, to prove just how pure their bloodline was – the purer their Judaism, the more proud they were! It’s pointless, and most dangerous of all…
    3. Idle talk. Idle talk, in the place of sound doctrine, is deadly.
    4. Giving a FALSE slant on the Law. V7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. They were trying to teach the law, and falling into error, either the error of discarding the law altogether, or the error of preaching law as a redemptive ordinance.

So what’s happening in Ephesus is quite similar to what is happening in churches and religious bodies today. Because sermons are taken up with irrelevancies, the real gospel message, is being neglected, and this has serious consequences. which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Let’s make two applications from our text:-

2. True Doctrine and the Godless Society! 8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,
What are the three uses of the Law? Firstly, to convict us of our sin, secondly, as a common basis for our civil law, and thirdly, in it’s highest use, as a guide for Christians. Most commentators seem to believe that in this passage, Paul is speaking about the second use of the law, – a basis of common law for any civilised society. 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate. Notice how what Paul has written mirrors the Ten Commandments. (with the exception of the tenth!) See that the Law of God is:-

  1. The basis of Common Law – so take heed of the post-modern destruction of society, previously ordered and legally underpinned by biblical precepts.
  2. The remedy for a lawless society is a renewed passion for the preaching of the Law!  In this passage Paul calls for a rightful use of the law. We must use the law, the Ten Commandments, to convict our society of its sin before God, and awaken its conscience.   We must call upon church leaders to abandon the modern practice of preaching irrelevancies, – seeker-sensitive, inoffensive cheerleading, and to boldly declare the Law of God, and so bring about a time of conviction, sorrow over sin and national repentance.
  3. This is part of the Christian message – part of the Gospel, the whole counsel of God, and if we are to salt and light in the world, we must teach sound doctrine, we MUST understand the purpose of the Law. 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

3. True Doctrine and the Godly Society! 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk…
The teaching of law and Gospel will challenge us, and bring us into conformity with God’s will and purpose. Yet in modern evangelicalism, there are few things less popular than doctrinal, Law/Gospel preaching! Now the purpose of the commandment is (or, ‘the aim of our charge) is:

  1. Love!
  2. Purity of Heart!
  3. A Good Conscience! Knowing that all the guilt that sin brought upon us is dealt with at the cross.
  4. Sincere Faith! That is faith that is unhypocritial.

All of these virtues are fostered in the church and in the individual believer, by a good solid understanding of true doctrine. Paul says, get your doctrine right, and your love will be right too. Love and doctrine belong together. You can’t have one without the other. The watered-down, banal, pointless preaching and teaching of the would-be lawyers at Ephesus has weakened the church, and has failed to provide a corrective influence on society. It must be Timothy’s task to work in Ephesus – to put matters right, to reintroduce proper declaration of the Law and the Gospel.

© BobMcEvoy

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