Paul writes to Timothy, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: ‘He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.’ (1 Timothy 3:16) Then Paul warns that some in later times will “forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:3) In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes, “Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensual mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Colossians 2:16-19) The rules and regulations these persons demand of you, says Paul, “have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:23)
“Rather,” writes Paul to Timothy, “train yourself for godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) “Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
The example Timothy is to set is “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) The godliness he seeks is Christ Himself.
Paul outlines rather thoroughly the qualifications for the office of overseer (or bishop): this person “must be above reproach, the husband of one wife (or the man of one woman), sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” (1 Timothy 3:2-3) He should also be able to “manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive.” (1 Timothy 3:4) And, “he must not be a new convert.” (1 Timothy 3:6)
Then Paul writes to Timothy that in addition to these fine qualities, the bishop (or overseer) “must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
Today, I believe this final quality is overlooked and even demeaned as a catering to the world. Think about the recent scandal involving the self-proclaimed prophet who confidently announced the coming of the last day, and the ‘rapture’ of Christ’s church. Even now, this man is claiming the second coming was only miscalculated and is actually going to occur in October of this year. This man is hardly “thought well of by outsiders” and has indeed become “a snare of the devil.” He is leading many people to mock our Lord; and is likely causing new converts to doubt the veracity of God’s organized church and even His Word.
Nothing in the Word of God is to be skimmed over and is to never be dismissed as irrelevant — Paul clearly teaches that a person who desires to lead “must be well thought of by outsiders.”
Paul, writing to Timothy, “[his] true son in the faith” states that “the goal of our instruction is love.” Paul encourages Timothy to continue this instruction in brotherhood with him and to avoid “myths and endless genealogies” which “promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan.” (1 Timothy 1:4) Paul tells Timothy to avoid all that results in “fruitless discussion.” (1 Timothy 1:6)
Paul reminds Timothy that love “comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” Love does not come from the law or from “teachers of the law [who] don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on.” (1 Timothy 1:7)
Love emerges from our union with Christ who “came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15) Love is demonstrated in Christ’s “extraordinary patience” with Paul, who calls himself “the worst of [sinners].” (1 Timothy 1:16,15) Christ’s patience with Paul is “an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)
In my previous note, “Add Nothing To It”, I propose that we add nothing to Christ’s redemptive work. And this is true — the death of our Lord on the cross satisfies God’s wrath completely.
However, although good deeds are worthless in our pursuit of God’s intimacy, He does ask us to “put on the new” and “put off the old.” “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5)
Remember, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15) “Christ Jesus displays His unlimited patience” to Paul, who calls himself “the worst of sinners” “as an example to those who would believe on [Jesus] and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15, 16)
Nothing Saul does prior to his conversion is of any importance in his salvation; nothing he does after changes his destiny as a child of God. His walk with the Lord nevertheless is pleasing to the Father; and certainly rewards await the renewed, obedient Paul.
Paul tells Timothy, “Fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience.” (1 Timothy 1:18-19)
Job, in his terror, longs for a mediator, one who will state his case to God. Job cries out, “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay His hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that His terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of Him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” (Job 9:33-35)
Job wisely asks, “Who can bring what is pure from the impure?” (Job 14:4) And, he just as wisely answers, “No one!” (Job 14:4) Because Job despairs yet hopes, he begs: “If only You would hide me in the grave and conceal me till Your anger has passed! If only You would set me a time and then remember me! If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service, I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer You; You will long for the creature Your hands have made. Surely then You will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed in a bag; You will cover over my sin.” (Job 14:13-17)
What Job hopes, Paul confirms: “God our Savior…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4) Here, Paul shows that Job’s prayer is answered. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men — the testimony given in its proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
Job’s sins are finally “covered over” and “sealed in a bag.” God’s “anger has passed!” Job is indeed “remembered;” his “renewal comes” and “he lives again.”