"Living the End Goal"
As we examine the text through verse 11, we see that the goal is love based in God. Living the goal of love and having to deal with unloving people are not easy. How do you teach a church that struggles in love to love?
Living The End Goal
(1 Tim. 1:3-5)
A. Ephesus was a church that Paul helped to start on his second journey and spent three years there on his third journey. The letter we have to the church in Ephesus helps us to see Paul’s love for them and his desire for them to remember what it means to be united and a family of God.
B. Churches don’t always act like family. Christians don’t always love each other as they should. Some members and some church leaders push things that should not be pushed upon others and do so teaching that it will make them a better Christian. What happens, when interpretation becomes the focus, is a loss of love for fellow Christians, and sometimes churches divide.
C. When Paul was on his way back to Jerusalem, he believed he would not see the Christians in Ephesus again. He called for their church leaders, the elders, to meet him in Miletus. There he told them to beware because in the future some elders will come in to Ephesus and teach things that are twisting the truth simply to draw a group of followers around their leadership.
D. About a decade after Paul meeting with those elders from Ephesus he writes this Timothy and tells him why he left in Ephesus. (1 Tim. 1:3-4)
E. We know that the church in Ephesus receives a letter from John’s Revelation from Jesus 30 years after Timothy has spent time there. In Rev. 2 we see that the church has done well holding to doctrinal issues, but listen to verses 4-5 (Read Rev. 2:4-5). The church in Ephesus has a love problem and it is killing them spiritually.
I. Church Problems
A. Paul is probably writing this letter to Timothy in the early 60’s from a prison in Rome, and he begins to teach Timothy how to handle church problems. Apparently, Ephesus and other churches that Timothy helps have some common problems.
B. Church problems are often caused by the minority, not the majority. We judge churches simply by who is most vocal.
C. Churches often have vocal members who have respect and knowledge, but are not always correct in their passionate teaching. Church leaders are called upon to confront some people because their teaching is not correct or at least become divisive. But not all church problems are caused by members without authority; sometimes the problems arise from the leadership. Their personality and passions often are reflected within the congregation. Sometimes for the good of the church and sometime for ill.
D. So Paul jumps right in to tell Timothy the problems in Ephesus that he as a preacher is going to have to tackle. Those problems, Paul says, are doctrinal.
E. Now there is a word that is difficult for church leaders and other members to define. Doctrine. The word simply means teaching. Paul doesn’t so much define doctrine in this opening, as he does what teaching “a different doctrine” looks like. These so called teachers are:
1. Teaching a different gospel
2. Devoted to myths and endless genealogies
3. Wandering into vain discussions
4. Teaching with confidence what they don’t understand
F. Paul then gives us a reason for the teachings of God and calls that teach “law.” This “law” that Paul speaks of, is not so much the Mosaic Law as it is God’s eternal law. Laws are given to help us become more holy, more like God. Paul lists some of the things that are counter to God’s eternal law. (Read verses 8-11)
II. Living The End Goal
A. The question is not, “Will church leaders and other members ever teach a twisted gospel or push an agenda that is harmful to the body?” That is not the question. The question is, “What do church leaders and other members DO when the local church is in conflict with one another?”
B. You live the end goal, the aim of what our Christian relationship is all about. The goal is love (read verse 5)
C. Many times I have taught the need to “fake it till you make it.” By that I mean that if you desire an attitude that is different than what you have now, fake the attitude you desire until it become the real attitude you have. Sometimes I have to force myself to change emotionally, because the place I am in is sinful, wrong, and harmful. So I fake until I make it.
D. What Paul is teaching here is the real emotion. The end goal of this confrontation with these teachers who are disrupting the church is to have a church that fill with true love. Paul lists a three-fold love. Love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. Let me briefly explain those three.
E. A love from a pure heart is one that has no wrong motives or sinful thoughts. It is free from ulterior motives to manipulate and desires that which is good. 1 Cor. 13 is an example.
F. A love from a good conscience is one that focuses on a decision to do something right verses do something wrong. Whereas the heart is based upon motive, the conscience is based upon a thought out process. Why you do what you do.
G. A love from a sincere faith is one in which the heart and conscience are rooted. I desires for a fellow Christian who is caught up in a sin to be free from that sin because my faith teaches me the reason sin is so wicked. So my message is not polluted with worldly things, but centers upon Jesus himself. That is the message of a sincere faith, wrapped up in a pure heart and good conscience.
A. Let me give you a different translation that tries to put this together, “The reason why I am ordering you to do this is to cause the believers (or, Christians) to love each other with a love that comes from a heart that has no bad motives and can clearly distinguish between right and wrong. When they love each other this way, it means that they are sincerely holding to the true Christian teachings.” (UBS New Testament Handbook Series)
B. Let me put it one more way: Do you love a fellow Christians that you disagree with from a heart pure in its motive, a conscience good in its decision making, and a faith free from the pollution of self-serving interpretation?
C. Church problems come. You may be a part of the problem. You may be a part of the solution. You may have very strong opinions that you express. You may have strong opinions that you don’t express in a group but gossip about afterwards. What is your motive? The end goal is to love one another.
D. What does your love look like towards others in this congregation. God calls you to examine it. Not just the doctrine you hold to, but the love that expresses that doctrine.
E. May we live a life based upon the end goal of love. If we can help you to do that by lifting you up in prayer or being of some encouragement to your life, then come as we stand and sing.