We are going to be looking at verses 6-11 today. I know it was a couple of weeks ago, and we have all forgotten what we looked at in the introduction to Timothy, but in short, there is a lot of instruction in this letter that s per tenant to all of us, and what Paul is aiming at is not rebuke, its not change, its not church growth, it is Love.
Before we read this week’s text, let me ask you a question. Does doctrine matter? That question begs the question, What is doctrine? For the sake of time, let me give you Wayne Grudem’s definition. “A doctrine is what the whole Bible teaches us today about some particular topic.” Some of the more notable doctrines are the doctrine of God, the doctrine of the Church, the doctrine of man. Now before you think I am getting heady, and highfaluting, let me ask you a question. What do you believe about God? Whatever you respond is “your” doctrine of God. Now weather it is right or not, depends not on what I believe about God, but on how close your belief about God matches what the Bible says about God. So to be clear, right doctrine is what the Bible says about a certain topic. Your doctrine is what you believe about a certain topic. Now, what I believe the text wants us to understand today, through the apostle Paul is that Doctrine matters because belief dictates practice. To say it in line with one of the verses in this text, all sin can be traced to believing a false doctrine, even if it is only for a moment.
Let’s read the text and then ask the Lord to Illuminate it to us.
“6Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers,fn liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to soundfn doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.” 1Timothy 1:6-11 ESV
In this text the Apostle Paul is giving instructions to Pastor Timothy for how to care for the people there in the church at Ephesus. The first charge he gives to Timothy in verse three is to charge certain people not to teach a different doctrine. Last time we were together we focussed on the truth that when we charge others, our aim should be at Love. In this text we also see the severity of the result when people swerve from the aim, and get caught up in a different doctrine. What we are going to do this morning is look at this text in two different trajectories. We are going to look at the outcome of false doctrine, and the outcome of true doctrine. Lets start with false doctrine.
False Doctrine: From the text here we can see that false doctrine leads to false understanding, false occupation, and false worship.
False Understanding: Paul tells Timothy that those in the church who have swerved from the right doctrine have a desire to be teachers of the law, but do not understand what they are saying, or the things they are making confident assertions about. In verse 7 it says that they desire to be teachers of the law. So these people who have swerved from the doctrine that was taught by Paul are teaching the law without understanding it. In this text he doesn’t tell us exactly what was being taught, but there are references in other parts of the book. Based on those, and also the other epistles, it is safe to say that one common way that the law was misused was by adding requirements to salvation, such as what the Judaizers did in Galatia. AT any rate their not understanding correct doctrine led to misuse of the law.
False occupation: Paul tells us here that these people who had swerved from right doctrine had been involved in vain discussions. in essence their lack of understanding had led to discussions that also lacked fruit. Their conversations and their preoccupations did very little to advance the cause of Jesus Christ, instead they brought confusion and disorder. It says in verse 4 that they were devoting themselves to endless genealogies and myths that promoted speculation. They were producing confusion, instead of order and true understanding. Their time was occupied by vain pursuits.
False Worship: Essentially, Paul lists the outcome of false doctrine. It is false worship. In a nutshell, if you believe false things about God, and spend your time in vain pursuits, chasing myths, and fruitless activities, the result will be self worship. That is spelled out in verse 10. After Paul lists a rather extensive list of sins, he finishes it off with the phrase, “whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” This phrase is to let us know that he wasn’t saying, only these signs, he was saying, “I don’t feel like writing them all down, so this will catch the rest of them.” And note how he describes the actions of the people. Their actions are contrary to sound doctrine. here we see an implicit reminder that our beliefs will dictate our actions. Our worship of God depends on what we know of God, and If you believe incorrect things about God, you will not be worshipping the true God.
Right Doctrine: Leads to true knowledge, true occupation, and true worship.
True Knowledge: The example given in this text is the law. So by way of an example and contrast, lets look at the true use of the law. Paul says that the law is good if one uses it lawfully. He goes on to say that it is laid down for the unjust, not the just. So the people who had drifted were using the law in a way toward the just, or the saved that it was not meant to be used. Here is why I am grateful that we stand on the shoulders of several hundred years of theologians who have helped us to understand passages like this. As it pertains to the law, there are generally three uses of the Law. They are: To be a Mirror, to restrain evil, and to reveal what pleases God. Most of the heresies addressed by Paul are people using the law to somehow aid in salvation. having correct doctrine gives us greater understanding of the real uses of the law.
True Occupation: If you look back in verse 4. Paul contrasts the speculations of the false doctrine with stewardship, also known as “right order” When we understand right doctrine, we are able to, with the Holy spirit’s help, put order back into our lives, and to help others do the same. Instead of speculations and vanity, our conversations produce fruit. Now, there are three spheres that right doctrine will help bring order to. Your heart… Your family…God’s house… All three of those are addressed later in this letter.
True Worship: Having right doctrine and belief about God will help us to have love and order because, just like false belief about God will produce self worship, right belief about God will produce true worship of God. When you understand what the Bible teaches about who God is, and who we are in Christ, the end result is actions that display that truth to others. To illustrate this point, think about the etiologies for a second. The people who had swerved from right doctrine were getting all caught up in genealogies. Now, I am not saying it is wrong to look into genealogies, that is not the point of this text. However, think for a minute about what a fascination with genealogies might suggest about your belief, lets say, if you think that your standing with God depends on who you are related to. If you believe that God’s favor rests solely in whose blood runs through your veins, you might devote yourself to study them. On the other hand, if you knew the truth about the blood that was shed from Christ’s veins for you, you might night be so preoccupied with the past, and might focus more on the future.
And the summary statement of true doctrine can be found in the closing sentence of this text. True doctrine leads to true understanding, true occupation and true worship when we understand the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God. The good news is to result in bringing glory to God. Praising Him, worshipping Him, adoring Him. He is the focal point of all right doctrine, and worship is the result of all right doctrine, because He made the law, not for our confusion, but so that we might know him, and He sent His son, not to condemn the world, but to save us sinners, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That truth is worthy of worship!