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Mar 29 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 26, 2017 – 1 Timothy 1:1-7

The True Christian Is Not A Know-It-All

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus our hope. To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
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, 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. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 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. 1 Timothy 1:1-7

Intro: Paul the apostle was also a spiritual mentor

Timothy was one of his young proteges
– Paul’s first letter to Timothy begins in the conventional way
• that is to say, with greetings
• still, there is in these two verses a lot to nourish our spirits
– then, in verse 3, Paul hits the ground running
• teachers in Ephesus were fascinated by peripherals
◦ a city known for its magical and occult interests
◦ Paul found these things useless for spiritual growth
• between teaching that speculation (v. 4) and fruitless (v. 6)
◦ Paul outlines the true path (v. 5) — and this is our meditation
◦ the goal that biblical teaching attempts to reach:
1. Love – from a pure heart
2. A good conscience (orientation of one’s mental life)
3. A sincere faith – not fake or pretend

All week I’ve been learning about purity of heart

Now I realized last week’s message was a bit naive about purity
– I assumed all it required was to make one big choice, then stick to it
• I’ve learned by repeatedly returning to Blessed by the pure in heart,
◦ I have to make dozens of little choices every day, all day
• passing my thoughts through this pure heart security gate,
◦ many thoughts set off alarms
– it is not just the one thing that had concerned me
• but it has been a lot of other things as well

For example, when I became aware of my anxious thoughts I started asking, “Is this purity of heart?” In most instances, it was not. The worry was not about anything that would make the world a better place or me a better person. Or it was an imaginary and improbable situation and nothing more than a distraction that threatened to use up precious mental energy. Then I would have to choose to let that thought go, return to the present moment, and refresh my trust in God.

• I have also discovered a relational category to purity of heart

This came to my attention whenever I was on the verge of judging someone–perhaps because of their appearance, odd behavior, vocabulary, and so on. Again, I asked, “Is this purity of heart?” (Eventually, I figured out that if I had to ask the answer was most likely, No.) Then I would remind myself, “What do I know? I don’t have enough information, perspective, wisdom, or holiness to qualify to make any sort of judgment.”

Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both (1.) bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and (2.) disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. (1 Cor. 4:5)

◦ we cannot begin our experience of a person with a judgment, a bias
◦ we would be blinding ourselves from seeing the true person

Jump to the Sermon On the Mount (Mt. 5-7)

What is the point or purpose of this sermon?
– consider these key terms that appear repeatedly:

Kingdom of heaven
Father in heaven

◦ all three appear together in Matthew 6:32-33

. . . your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

• through this message, Jesus preparing us for life in his kingdom
◦ and it is more about who we’re becoming than what we’re doing
– the righteousness of the kingdom is not external, but essential
◦ that is to say, the essence of the person’s inner life
◦ actions reveal essence — essence is root, action is fruit

It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man. . . . the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, [immorality], thefts, [lies], slanders (Mt. 15:11, 18-19)

The Sermon On the Mt shows us what pure in heart looks like

Or perhaps it appears that way to me as I read through it now
– anyway, pure in heart looks like a new kind of righteousness

For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 5:20)

George Ladd provides the following insight regarding the scribes and Pharisees:

“The Scribes were the professional students of religion. They were the men who gave their full time, like professors in a theological seminary, to the study of the Scriptures and whose main objective was the definition of righteousness.
“The Pharisees were those who accepted the teaching of the Scribes–their disciples who put their teaching into practice, thereby aiming to achieve a life of righteousness. . . . They wanted a definition of what was right and what was wrong in every situation.”

• it’s difficult to imagine a righteousness that surpasses theirs
• I’m beginning to understand the Pharisees’ pursuit of righteousness
◦ they found it included not only big things, but countless little things
◦ Jesus also emphasized the small things
(every ‘t’ had to be crossed, every ‘i’ dotted; Mt. 5:18)
– but there was a problem with the Pharisees’ righteousness
• they developed a religious obsession for externals
◦ theirs was a righteousness that could be publicly displayed (cf. Mt. 6:1)

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so the outside of it may become clean also (Mt. 23:25)

◦ ceremonial purity could be attained without purity of heart
• no matter how exhaustive their code, it could not cover every possibility
◦ so surpass does not mean Jesus’ disciples do more of the same
◦ rather, their righteousness involves doing something else

The something else is an integration of internal and external
– the remainder of Matthew 5 illustrates specific examples
• anger, lust, empty commitments, revenge and how we treat enemies
◦ for example, it is not enough to never commit murder
◦ we are not to entertain the idea or harbor those feelings
– the way to complete righteousness cannot be focused on:
• sin, morality, or even purity
◦ if these are goal, I become fixated on myself
◦ it is this self-focused righteousness that must be surpassed

How does purity of heart become our essence?

I have colleagues who preach, “Go to the Bible and get in the Word!”
– nope
• the bare words of scripture do not transform our essence
◦ the scribes and Pharisees had the law and had examined the letter of the law

I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people” (Jer. 7:22-23)

◦ but God had commanded offerings! Even twice daily offerings
• what he wanted was for Israel to hear his voice in his word
◦ to not respond only to the commandments, but to him, Yahweh their God
◦ our hope of transformation is actualized in our continuous communion with God
– the Bible is not as some say a handbook for living, manual, or map
• sadly, many Christians treat it as reference work
◦ they frequently ask, “Can you direct me to a verse on dating?”
◦ as if we could go to scripture apart from God and find answers and solutions
• if we are going to hear God’s voice in scripture, then we have to meet him there
◦ we cannot merely go to the Bible, we must go through it to God himself
◦ God’s word is a seed that gives life, a flame that purifies, a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces, a sword, an anchor, and so on and on

Conc: In pursuing purity of heart this last week,

It has not been necessary for me to run through all the do’s and don’t’s
– all I have had to do is to ask, “Is this purity of heart?”
– if I do this with a sense of God’s presence, the answer comes immediately

George Ladd, “The Kingdom of God gives to us that which it demands; otherwise, we could not attain it.”

We are going to succeed in purifying your heart, because Jesus works with us!
He helps us internalize the essence of purity and externalize its fruit

One Comment

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  1. Eliot / Mar 29 2017

    Can’t you still be overly concerned with how you’re being “seen” when you’re trying to be more “loving” and less “religious”?

    I get a vibe that Timothy’s maternal influence was more than Titus’, and Paul had to light his fire by extended analogies and depictions of spiritual “armor”! But I like the way Paul tells Titus “essentially” YER PURE BRO…!!! TAKE NO CRAP FROM FAKERS!!!

    Either way, IT IS WRITING GENERATED BY Jesus that comes through with a message to just go to HIM, whoever you are, and say OK SHOW ME HOW to get through whatever…and then remember HE HAS SHOWN US HIS EXAMPLE, written in the “Bible”. The biggest threat to “purity” is checking out. how it looks on us in the moment, whether inside or out.

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