False teachers exist! – 1 Timothy 1:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 1, 2017
We live in a day where any convoluted and faulty theology is readily accepted and protected by a non-critical thinking society. My Daddy used to say that it is “okay to be open-minded but not to the point where your brains fall out and you step on them.” Far too many think that acceptance of the individual means we can never disagree with or question what the individual thinks, says, or does. I say “hogwash!” There are false teachers who want you to believe or follow their latest form of theological perversion. Take for instance the recent proclamation that the world was supposed to end last week or is it next week or the week after? Who knows? And do not get me started with those who come up with the latest and greatest end-times scenario, bleah! False teachers exist!
The Apostle Paul wrote his friend and new pastor Timothy in order to mentor and help him in his new ministry as a young pastor. Evidently he was facing some problems that needed some attention. Paul had come to Derbe and Lystra with Barnabas and had become acquainted with Timothy who plainly was a talented young man that God had called to be one of the early church’s first pastors. One of the early arguments against Christianity and Paul was that Paul was teaching a different gospel than Jesus had taught. Theological purity was absolutely necessary and Paul’s detractors knew it. Unlike our day where any view is validated, one did not stray from their master’s teachings in Paul’s day and even in Paul’s day false teachers existed, let’s see what that means…
Far from disagreeing to the color of the mat in the foyer or what kind of timbrel to use in worship music the discussion in Paul’s day often went to the core of who Jesus was, what he taught, and what this meant. Paul lets us know that…
I. False teachers exist to promote false teaching! (Vv. 1-4)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work–which is by faith.
1. Like most letters of his day Paul immediately introduces himself and his bona fides; his legitimacy and credentials for addressing the issue in which he wrote his letter to Timothy about. Namely that he was in fact “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope”. My Dad used the bona fides of “because I said so” and that was good enough for us! However, Paul was an apostle sent out by the Messiah Jesus by the strict command of God! His letter was to “Timothy my true son in the faith”. Paul is letting anyone who questions Timothy about his bona fides that he was Paul’s “true son in the faith” and not some false teacher! And he continues by telling them “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul was not in this for himself unlike his counterfeit contenders. So Paul tells Timothy, “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.” Timothy’s job as a pastor was to make sure the gospel was taught truthfully and adhered to Jesus’ teachings. Some within Timothy’s church or in the area where he ministered wanted to drag them away from the “grace, mercy and peace” of Jesus and back into endless arguments about superstitions, fables, and family lineages! Paul knew if Timothy stood firm in the truth of the gospel, these heresies would fade because false teachers exist to promote false teaching!
EXAMPLE: Recently as I was taking a nap in my easy-chair when two finely dressed young ladies came to my front door. I was half-asleep with an unshaven beard and I could have sworn flies were lighting on me as I coughed and scratched my stomach while heading to the door. In the fog off my half-asleep mind I still immediately realized who they were and what they represented. One sweetly smiled at me and proceeded to hand me a tablet she used to pull up a video clip. “I have a short video to share with you…” but before she could get out another word I remarked, “Jesus is Jehovah to me.” The made a hasty retreat. False teachers exist to promote false teaching!
Interestingly much of what is taught today about the return of Jesus comes from the likes of
Jehovah’s Witnesses or Seventh Day Adventism rather than what is actually written within Scripture. Rather than teaching what the Bible actually says some authors are more interested in advancing themselves. Paul teaches us that…
II. False teachers exist to promote themselves! (Vv. 5-7)
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
1. Contrary to the fables, superstitions, and endless arguments about genealogies Paul tells Timothy that “The goal of this command [of Jesus] is love”! Wow what a difference between the good news of Jesus and the heavy load of superstition and Jewish fascination with minutiae and trivial arguments! These things are man-focused while the gospel “comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” No believer should ever promote themselves over the good news of Jesus and no Christian should ever do it out of selfish ambition or personal gain! The gospel of Jesus is about the truth of God and should always be given in sincerity and purity. Paul reminds Timothy that “Some have wandered away from [having a pure heart, good conscience, and a sincere faith] and turned to meaningless talk.” These false teachers of Paul’s day had ulterior motives, “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” They were stuck in the past and clung to the notion that they could earn God’s mercy, grace, and peace by doing the same things over and over again but never changing themselves! They feared they would lose the audiences and accolades of the people they had enjoyed. Jesus’ taught that salvation could be found in faith in him and happiness in life was discovered by walking with him in fellowship! What were they supposed to do with their genealogical charts and their endless pontificating concerning what the law was all about? They would lose their standing in the synagogue and their financial support as itinerant teachers! Paul knew that false teachers exist to promote themselves!
EXAMPLE: I confess I do not watch Christian television because there are so many heresies promoted on these channels. However, the other day I was bored and so I turned one on in a moment of weakness and there on the stage was a chubby guy with dyed hair and huge charts and graphs on the wall behind him. He was droning on about Jesus’ return we could be prepared if we just followed his teachings. Of course for a mere $29.95, plus shipping and handling, I could have his latest DVD and book about the subject! I wondered out loud that if his teaching on the subject was so important for the world to know why he didn’t simply give it away free! Then I remembered what Paul told Timothy: False teachers exist to promote themselves!
Many supposedly spiritual books, movies, and seminars are completely ungodly. Far too many in our day and age encourage a quasi Christian hedonism rather than spiritual purity. Paul knew that…
III. False teachers are contrary to sound doctrine! (Vv. 8-11)
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but 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 for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1. Paul did not have a problem with some of what these men were trying to teach but rather how they applied what they were teaching. Paul knew in fact that “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.” Paul was not an enemy of the Law of Moses, however, these men were not using it to teach about Jesus, but instead they were using it to promote themselves. The law of God was a guidepost and a standard to show our sinful nature. Paul writes that “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious”. Those who followed God had no worries, but the law revealed the ungodly for what they actually were. The Law pulled aside the curtain. Therefore if one used it properly, for the purpose for which it was intended, the law would point them to Jesus! Paul then defines for Timothy what these lawbreakers, rebels, ungodly, sinful, unholy, and irreligious people were! There are those “who kill their fathers or mothers” in order to gain financially. There are “murderers” who kill others without reason; “adulterers” who have sexual relationships outside of their marriages; and “perverts” – this word describes being profane. In other words Paul is describing those who enjoyed and encouraged others to be socially and spiritually deviant. Sound familiar? Paul also included “slave traders and liars and perjurers”. Slavery would end because of Christianity and believers are not to lie or bear false witness ever. Point in fact Paul bluntly remarks that “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to” him as his apostle was evil as well! Paul knew that false teachers are contrary to sound doctrine!
EXAMPLE: Contrary to what some teach today God is not a black woman found in a shack and Jesus is not a hippie. God is more concerned with your spiritual eternity than he is about your emotional state for the moment. It saddens me that far too much of what is taught in churches, books, and Christian materials has more to do with making excuses for our “Christian” hedonism rather than living a holy life for the Lord. We want to mold Jesus into our modern day world and make him into someone he is not. I learned a long time ago from a very godly man than anyone or anything that makes the qualifier of “Jesus and” or “Jesus plus” is the beginning of heresy. In fact we learn from Paul that false teachers are contrary to sound doctrine!
False teachers exist to promote false teaching! False teachers exist to promote themselves! False teachers are contrary to sound doctrine!
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.