Love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.
In today’s text Paul says: I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Looking at what Paul says is the goal of his instruction, first he says is love from a pure heart. In Jeremiah 17:9-10, God speaking through the prophet says: “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” If the heart of man is desperately sick or wicked as some translations say, how can we love from a pure heart, as Paul says is the goal? In Ezekiel 36:25-26 God says: Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. In John 3:3;5 Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” We are given a new, a pure heart when we are born again, when we believe in Christ. 1 John 4:19 says: We love, because He first loved us. Love from a pure heart is love that is in response to the love of God. It is love that is a result of God’s love. What does God’s love for us look like? “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins is what the love of God looks like and it is the result of His love, our response to His love, our faith, believing in Christ, which enables us to love from a pure heart.
A sincere faith is one of the other elements of the goal of Paul’s instruction. Faith is believing in Christ and the cross for our salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Hebrews 11:1 says: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith, while it is believing, also brings substance, tangible things to our lives. Faith, believing in Christ brings for evidence of the things we hope for. In Mark 11:22-24 Jesus says: “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” Sincere faith, from a pure heart, can move mountains. Life and circumstance changing; mountain moving faith is a goal of Paul’s instruction. Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, (has faith) the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)
The third element or goal of Paul’s instruction is a good conscience. 1 John 1:8-9 says: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Acknowledging and confessing our sins is the way to a good conscience. It is the response to the love of God. It is the result of our faith. In Romans 7:18-25 Paul says: I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! It is only through Christ that we can have a good conscience, a pure heart and a sincere faith. Paul says these are the goals of his instruction. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul says: When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Paul’s instruction, Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, the way to a pure heart of love; a sincere and powerful faith and a good conscience, forgiven, cleansed and redeemed from sin.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit I pray that You will enable me to fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience. That You will give me a pure heart, a sincere faith and a good conscience through Jesus Christ and Him crucified. May I have a pure heart to love as You have loved me; a sincere and powerful faith to do the works that You did, the works that You call me to do. May I have a good conscience following Your Spirit and not my flesh. Amen.