Teach Sound Doctrine – 1 Timothy 1:3-11

Higgins Lake Baptist Church
Kevin Pierpont, Pastor-Teacher
8/3/03

As we began last Sunday the study of 1 Timothy, we established the author of the book, Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ. We noted the importance of understanding the kind of authority Paul had as an Apostle. Jesus Christ himself appointed the Apostles. Paul’s authority to speak on matters of the church comes from Jesus Christ. We would do well to take these words seriously and not dismiss them as irrelevant to us today but as Scripture that is to be understood and adhered to in our conduct as believers in the body of Christ. I think we can agree that it should be our aim as a church to test and approve all that we do by the standard of God’s Word.

As we looked at the first two verses which contained Paul’s greetings to Timothy. We also noted that Paul referred to Timothy as his “true son in the faith.” Paul sought to bring Timothy along in the faith and did so for many years. And I want you to recognize your need to disciple others as well if you are to be a faithful to the task the Lord has given you. Paul sets the example here for the need for our faithfulness to discipleship as a church. Paul and Timothy were kindred spirits. They both desired fruitful lives for Christ. You may believe you need someone to disciple you, a mentor. I challenge you to pray that the Lord would lead you to someone who can help you. Your kindred spirit ought to be your spouse if you have one, maybe a brother or sister or a close friend. If you don’t have an individual in your life to challenge you to growth I would suggest you look around for an individual who is mature in the Lord and ask them if you can meet together for mutual encouragement.

We also noted the greetings Paul sent to Timothy of mercy, grace and peace. Where would we be as believers without the mercy, grace and peace of God? Many an individual lives life today and cannot find true peace, has not experienced God’s mercy, and will not benefit from God’s grace unless we come along side them and live the faithful life, and live the Gospel of Christ out before them and challenge them with their need for Jesus Christ.

As we move through 1 Timothy we will find Paul’s instruction to Timothy concerning the teaching of sound doctrine. Look at the text of verses 3-11.

3. As I urged you when I went into Macedonia; remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

4. nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

5. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

6. from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,

7. desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

8. But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,

9. knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

10. for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,

11. according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

Note that in verse 3 Paul urges Timothy to stay in Ephesus. He’s encouraging Timothy to stay on the job. Notice that Paul is not commanding Timothy to stay in Ephesus but he is appealing to him to stay. Matthew Henry notes that Paul could have taken the authority to command Timothy to stay put but for love’s sake he chose to entreat him.

Perhaps there was a desire on Timothy’s part not to stay. We aren’t told that. More than likely Paul realized that it was important for this church to continue to have Timothy’s leadership. We see that Paul is concerned for the church that the proper doctrine is taught.

We would do well to remember as we minister that sometimes God places us in difficult situations but His desire is for us to stay there and accomplish His purposes. There is a fundamental truth about the provision of God for His children and that is what He calls his children to do, He will equip them to do. We should also follow Paul’s example and seek to encourage those who may be discouraged and feel like giving up, to stay in the place God has called them to serve. For one young pastor “it was a miserable time of ministry”

Something just didn’t seem to be working. After several years of rather unsuccessful ministry, it might have seemed as though he wasn’t really designed for preaching. Nonetheless, he stuck it out in the pastorate and sought another place of ministry in a different part of the country. This time he tried Fullerton, California. Good thing he did, otherwise the world might have missed out on the ministry of Charles Swindoll. (Personal Testimony of Dr. Swindoll, Congress On Biblical Exposition, Houston, Texas, 1988)

One thing that ought to be a concern for a church is the pastor’s length of stay. A pastor’s length of stay in a church can have a real impact on the long term effectiveness of that church. Rick Warren pastors one of the fastest-growing Baptist church in American history. In his book the Purpose Driven Church he has this to say about a pastors longevity.

A long pastorate does not guarantee a church will grow, but changing pastors every few years guarantees a church won’t grow. Long pastorates make deep, trusting and caring relationships possible. Without those kinds of relationships a pastor won’t accomplish much of lasting value.

He goes on to say:

Knowing the importance of longevity in growing a healthy church I prayed, “Father, I’m willing to go anyplace in the world you want to send me. But I ask for the privilege of investing my entire life in just one location. I don’t care where you put me, but I’d like to stay wherever it is for the rest of my life.” (pgs 31-32)

This is the kind of heart more pastors need to bring to the shepherding of the local church. I must say, this is the kind of heart more church members need to bring to the ministry of the local church. Were this true of more of God’s people there would be fewer sheep, hoping from one shepherd to the next from one fold to the next, there would be a more sincere desire to get along with God’s people and God’s church would be more effective in the community as a result.

I remember many years ago as God began stirring in my heart a desire for pastoral ministry traveling to Brownsburg, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis, for a church ministry conference at Bethesda Baptist Church where Dr. Don Tyler began his ministry many years ago. Don Tyler arrived at Bethesda Baptist Church fresh out of Bible school, his first Pastorate. It was a small country church, smaller than ours, just a handful of people at the time. During my visit there were nearly 2000 in attendance in the morning worship service and Pastor Tyler was still going strong after many decades with the church. I was deeply moved by the impact that a servant of God can have in a ministry when He chooses to surrender his future to God. The original building was still there, being used for a children’s church meeting room. The next building the church built was next to it and the one after that next to it and the one after that and so on. The church had also begun planting or rescuing churches in the Indianapolis area and to this day has started or rescued 8 churches. Pastor Tyler was a man willing to go and stay where the Lord wanted him. He certainly didn’t do all the work but his faithfulness to the work had a real impact in the lives of those who served with him through the years. Pastor Tyler went home to be with the Lord last year still the pastor of his first church. I’ll never forget the brief time I shared with him in his study, talking about ministry and learning something about how God can use a simple man for God’s purpose and glory.

Faithfulness to the ministry were God has placed us is something we all must learn. We must be faithful because there are those who would mislead the flock with false doctrine.

Paul instructs Timothy to charge (command in the NIV) certain men that they teach no other doctrine. Take notice of the word, charge. Charge means to instruct or command with authority. Like a commanding officer giving orders to a subordinate.

The proper handling of Scripture is an extremely important matter not to be taken lightly. That is why the false teachers were to be commanded not to teach their errant doctrine. Notice Paul doesn’t say in this case, “suggest that they not teach false doctrine.” No he clearly instructs Timothy to command or order the false teaching to stop.

The correct handling of the Word of God is imperative to the proper growth of the church and when the Word is handled incorrectly, we must not be slack in correcting false doctrine.

Verse 4 says:

4. nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

Paul instructs Timothy to command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer, not to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. What is he referring to here when he speaks of “fables and endless genealogies.

Ray Stedman says about this portion of 1 Timothy:

But when it comes to teaching, that teaching must be clear and straight and true, and according to the apostolic witness. That is the first thing Timothy is charged to do: Stop the teaching that is different, and oppose these wrong concepts.

This does not mean that these teachers were blatant heretics. They were not. They were probably men from the congregation who, in many ways, were good teachers, but they were beginning to introduce ideas that were derived, basically, from human philosophy. The scholars are divided as to whether this was a Greek form of philosophy, which later developed into what was called Gnosticism (which became widespread in the church in the early centuries), or whether these were Jewish philosophies.

Personally, I would lean toward the latter, because of Verses 6 and 7, where these men are said to be "longing to be teachers of the law." If this is the case, these teachers were suggesting Jewish fables, myths and genealogies, here in the church at Ephesus.

(If these were Jewish myths, as I suspect they were, you will find examples of this in the Old Testament Apocrypha. Some of you who have access to Catholic Old Testaments will find fourteen additional books there that are not in our Protestant Bibles. These are called the Apocrypha, books that were never accepted by the Jews as Scripture, but which were widely circulated in the early centuries. Many of these books are made up of fanciful tales of imaginative accounts, usually about wise men who had remarkable teachings about various themes. This is what was being taught along with the Christian truth there in Ephesus.)

These teachers were also making a great deal of fuss about genealogies. They were laying stress on their ancestry, who they were, where they came from, their family ties, their inherited honors, etc.

Stedman makes his point. Obviously these teachers were getting sidetracked.

We need to make sure that we are always keeping, as someone has said “the main thing, the main thing”. It is so important to stick closely to Scripture in our teaching of the Word of God and not add things that will distract from our message.

At the end of verse 4, we note that, these “cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith

Jesus warned us in that we would know a teacher by the kind of fruit he bears.

Look at Matthew 7:15-19

15. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16. "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles. 17. "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18. "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

With those verses in mind go back to 1 Timothy, and look at the end of verse 4, where we see that the false doctrine being taught at Ephesus was promoting disputes or controversies – bad fruit, instead of Godly edification or God’s work – by faith – good fruit. Examination of the fruit from the life of a teacher should reveal good fruit. But bad fruit will mark the life of a false teacher. This bad fruit can in turn produce weak and misguided Christians. How tragic.

We could easily become agitated and aggressive in our efforts to correct wrong doctrine. Indeed Paul instructed Timothy to command the false teaching to be stopped. But we see in verse 5 a needed balance given to this command.

5. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

The goal is love. Timothy was to be motivated by love in correcting the false teaching. It is so easy for us to attack others who we believe are wrong out of an impure motive. Paul states that love should stem from a “pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.” In other words, Timothy had to have his own ducks in a row before he went off correcting the errant teaching. Sometimes when someone else is in error, we want to let them have it with both barrels. We could easily say of someone in the church with an erroneous belief; “how dare they come in here and teach that or believe this or say that, what in the world are they doing here if they don’t believe the way we do.” However, Scripture admonishes us to consider our selves first and to do our confronting in love. Galatians 6:1 tells us:

6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

And is it not part of our purpose as a church to make Christ known to others. Isn’t it part of the reason we exists to bring others out of false doctrine and into the truth? If this were a place where only those who agree with us may attend then how would we be any different than a social club?

You see, verse 6 in 1 Timothy 1 notes that some have wandered from the truth and turned to meaningless talk.

6. from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,

We need to make sure we stay on track. The central teaching of the Word of God should be our main goal and we must guard against meaningless talk and idle chatter. Everything we teach should be centered in God’s Word.

And as is often the case with those who’s mouths flow with meaningless talk there motives are selfish. Verse 7 says:

7. desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

The false teachers were into this for the sake of their own ego. Have you ever been around a “know-it-all”? They come across authoritatively but on closer examination come up short in their knowledge. Apparently that was what was occurring here. Men were teaching with boldness things they really didn’t clearly understand.

The charge to Timothy to purge the church of false teaching has been given. (vs. 3-7)

Now we see in the verses that follow (vs. 8-11) the Counsel to Timothy regarding proper use of the law.

In verse 8, Paul points out that the law is good when used properly. There is a proper use for the law in our lives. We do not simply toss it out and disregard it, but we do need to make sure we use it properly. Wiersbe notes “these false teachers were leading believers out of the liberty of grace and into the bondage of legalism” [i] And sadly that still happens today.

Often what passes for spirituality is really just legalism. It’s an easy trap to be lured to. Often having a list of do’s and don’ts is easier than being a student of God’s Word. Often keeping a list of rules is easier than obeying the nudging of the Holy Spirit when it’s time we change. We can easily salve our consciences with a list of rules and appear more spiritual by making others think they must have our list too.

But in verses 9 and 10, Paul goes on to explain the purpose of the law. Note who it is made for, the NIV says it’s for “for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers” and if you think you are off the hook because your sin isn’t listed, don’t because he adds “and for whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” That about covers it doesn’t it?

The law was given to point out to man that he comes up short and to show him his need for a redeemer. Romans 3:10 reminds us that “there is no one righteous, not even ONE.” In Romans 6:23 we know that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ you can be assured that the law no longer condemns you, even though you have fallen short of it. But if you see yourself as an unforgiven sinner you know you need a Savior. You can place your faith in Him today, right now. Believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sin. Then acknowledge your sin and need for a Savior and ask Christ to forgive you.

Verse 11 describes the “sound doctrine” mentioned in the previous verse.

10 …sound doctrine, 11. according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

Sound doctrine will always conform to the glorious gospel. The gospel is central to all that we believe and teach here at Higgins Lake Baptist Church. Notice that Paul mentions the gospel was committed to his trust. We too have been entrusted with the gospel. It is a privilege for each one of us to have been entrusted with proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. We ought to be careful we aren’t withholding the message. We need to make sure we are striving to share the gospel with others.

A.B. Simpson has said that the gospel “Tells rebellious men that God is reconciled, that justice is satisfied, that sin has been atoned for, that the judgment of the guilty may be revoked, the condemnation of the sinner canceled, the curse of the Law blotted out, the gates of hell closed, the portals of heaven opened wide, the power of sin subdued, the guilty conscience healed, the broken heart comforted, the sorrow and misery of the Fall undone. (Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, M. Cocoris, Moody, 1984, p. 29)

Here are a couple of things we would do well to remember today from our study of this passage:

1. We need to teach the truth in love and be on guard against false teaching

2. We need to be busy proclaiming the gospel to those in need of a Savior.

Did you hear about the little boy who returned home after his first Sunday School class? His mother asked, "Who was your teacher?’ and the little boy answered, "I don’t remember her name, but she must have been Jesus’ grandmother because she didn’t talk about anyone else." Does our conversation reflect our love of Jesus? Would our words give away our relationship with him? (Leadership Magazine)

Do we take seriously the gospel we have been entrusted with? Are we actively sharing the glorious gospel with others? Let’s make sure we are committed to sound teaching and committed to sharing the wonderful truths of God’s word with others.

[i] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 2 pg. 211