Always begin with the end in mind, the productivity gurus admonish. Here, for once at least, the Apostle agrees. “When you are teaching,” Timothy, “aim for the heart. Our doctrine must produce love!”
As is often the case, Paul is combating the pernicious effects of false teachers, whose teaching tends to have the unhappy effect of producing speculation. Such rambling debates will have little effect in growing the work of God, which always goes forward by faith (1Tim. 1:4) and aims at love (1Tim 1:5).
Love is a river of three springs: a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
To love well, therefore, we must have:
Purity of Heart:
You cannot hope to love well if you allow moral turpitude, vice, and all uncleanness to fill your heart. This might surprise you? You might think to yourself, “No one knows what goes on in my heart. That’s just my little dark secret. I can be dark on the inside and nice on the outside. Who is to know any better?” But what is the outside of man’s life? Is it not simply the overflow of the heart? If the well is filthy, a clean bucket won’t draw up pure water! It was this kind of thinking that Paul addressed in Titus 1:15-16
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”
Integrity of Conscience
If our conscience is bothering us before a person, we will not be able to love that person. Let’s say a husband or a wife is carrying around some dark secret. Like an oil warning light flashing on the dashboard of their soul, their conscience constantly alarms. How are they supposed to love their spouse? Worse still, every time their spouse is loving towards them, the torture intensifies. “If they only knew,” says the voice of conscience, “what you’re really like, they wouldn’t be quite so kindly towards you, would they?” Such thoughts will tend to make us withdraw from the relationship, or to use anger to drive the other person away.
This is why we must confess our sins to God and to those who ought to know. A clean, blood-washed conscience brings glorious liberty— the freedom to love and be loved in return.
Sincerity of Faith:
Literally, Paul says, “Love flows from an unhypocritical faith.” Once again, how can we love if we are pretending to be what in reality we are not? Painting a rotten egg will not help it taste sweeter. If man is able to play act before God, we are fools to think the habit will stop there.
To produce such purity of life, we need a doctrine preached right down to the heart. The kind of preaching that gives a sinner (or a saint) no room to hide. Peaching with hands and feet. Sermons that seem to climb all over us and then inside of us. Such messages will have two key elements:
1. They Must be Full of Scripture: The Word of God is living and active sharper than any two edged sword. It alone has the power to cut down to the heart of things (Hebrews 4:12).
2. They Must also be full of God: It is very often, as we find ourselves in the presence of this living book that we find ourselves in the presence of the Living God. If His book knows me, He must know me: surely “no creature is hidden from His sight and all things are naked and laid bare before the eyes of. Him with whom we have to do (Heb.4:13). Surely, the secrets of my heart have been revealed; God is in this place (1Cor.14:25)!
Will you pray for this kind of preaching at Christ Covenant? We all need it, if we are to love well.