07/31/S – Debunking False Teaching

Jeremiah 28:1-17; 1 Timothy 1:1-11; Psalms 85:8-13; Proverbs 20:12

NT: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope: To Timothy, my true son in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach false doctrine or to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies. These promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan, which operates by faith. Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and turned aside to fruitless discussion. They want to be teachers of the law, although they don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on. But we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately. We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent…” (‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭1:1-9a‬ ‭CSB)

The book of 1 Timothy was written after the events recorded in the book of Acts. The book of Acts ends with Paul finally making it to Rome, where he remained under house arrest for two years. After being released from his first Roman imprisonment, Paul visited  the church that he began in Ephesus. After he left Ephesus, he placed Timothy in charge of the church. The purpose of this letter was to encourage Timothy through the difficulties that he was facing in Ephesus and to instruct him in pastoral responsibilities and the qualifications and duties of church leadership. This epistle is classified as a pastoral epistle. It wasn’t written to a group of believers – it was written to encourage and instruct Timothy, who was pastoring a group of believers.

One of the difficulties that Timothy faced was the teaching of false doctrine. It appears that the false teachers were Jewish legalists that were trying to mix teachings on the law with the telling of fantastical, non-canonical myths and legends of people pulled from their genealogical records. There is nothing wrong with the law – but the law can only do what the law was designed to do. The law was established to convict sinners of sin and to bring them to the realization that they need a savior. The law cannot save. Only the gospel has the power of salvation. God’s plan of salvation operates by faith and is motivated by love. The goal of solid instruction and teaching is to see people respond to the gospel sincerely in faith and to be motivated by pure-hearted love.

Because the false teachers didn’t really understand the purpose of the law and didn’t really know what they were talking about, the teachings that they gave were empty and confusing. They knew how to throw a bunch of words together and sound like they were saying something profound – but their words were empty speculations and fruitless discussions. Paul, because he knew the word of God, and the God of the word, knew that their teachings were false. He knew what truth sounded like and he knew what to look for in a solid and life-giving teaching. There are plenty of preachers in our day that are really good about putting words together and sounding like they have profound things to  say – but actually do not know the word of God nor the God of the word. If we don’t understand the word, will and ways of God, then we risk being led astray by their empty speculations and fruitless discussions. But if we do know and understand the word, will and ways of the Lord, we will not be led astray by false teaching and will be able to recognize and receive good teaching when we hear it.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the powerful and salvational truth in Your gospel – and that You actually grace me to understand Your gospel that I may walk in it and explain it to others. Help me, as I endeavor to teach, to not become guilty of stringing together words that in the end are empty speculations and fruitless discussions. Help my words to be founded completely on Your gospel and delivered with love, a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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