Summary: 1 Timothy 1
1 Timothy 1 -Staying on Track
Turn with me this morning to the book of 1 Timothy. Timothy in towards the end of the New Testament, in the second half of the Bible. We saw last week that this is a letter from the Apostle Paul to Timothy, his young protégé. Paul left Timothy at Ephesus to straighten out the problems in the church there. Ephesus was a city filled with idol worship, sexual immorality, and false teachings.
Timothy, though, is a young man and sometimes people in the church did not follow his leadership and give him the respect he deserved (1 Tim. 4:12). Timothy was timid and shy (2 Tim 1:6). He sometimes was sickly, or at least was so troubled by the problems in the church that his stomach bothered him (1 Tim 5:23). The tension in the church had him to the point of giving up. But Paul gives him a letter to encourage him to keep on going.
Last week as we looked at chapter 1, we saw Paul give three commands to Timothy. We looked at the first two. The first one was,
1. Teach Sound Doctrine - Be sure that the church does not drift away into false teaching.
Paul writes inverse 3 - 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. In the church at Ephesus -- not just in the city, but within the church, within the body of believers, there were people teaching heresy. Timothy is reminded he needs to pass along the truth.
There were two extremes at Ephesus: mysticism - those trying to teach a special knowledge beyond scripture, and legalism, those who were taking the OT law, and twisting it to serve their purposes. And both were wrong.
False teaching brings division, but sound teaching brings unity. Paul reminds Timothy to keep his focus on the main thing. The main thing is to make sure we keep the main thing as the main thing. So what is the main thing? Paul goes on to remind Timothy of his second task at Ephesus:
2. Preach the Gospel. Far too often we get caught up in rabbit trails - we talk to our neighbor, and they ask a question about Cain & Abel and their wives and we get our focus off of the gospel. People were using the OT laws wrongly. The OT law was never given to make us righteous, but to get us to see our sinfulness so we can see the need of the gospel, our need of salvation.
One of the best ways to share the gospel is to use the OT law. It’s fine to say that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. But how about using the 10 commandments some time. Ask people, did you ever tell a lie? Did you ever hate anyone? Did you ever have a lustful thought? If so, you are a lying murdering adulterer, and you need salvation.
Many people think they are “good enough” and don’t need salvation. Use the 10 commandments, and everyone sees how short he falls of God’s perfection. So Paul goes on to remind Timothy of the power of the gospel. He shares his personal testimony of what the gospel did for him.
Paul records this starting in verse 12 - let’s look there together. READ 1:12-17.
Paul was a blasphemer, he was violent; he was unbelieving; he was as bad as they get - the chief of all sinners. But he was changed by the power of the gospel. Our first thought is to try to justify Paul -- well, he really wasn’t that bad -- I’m sure there were worse. But that is a rabbit trail that takes us off the main thing. We preach the gospel because the gospel has power to convert even the worst of sinners.
Romans 1:16 - I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. Or as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1: God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
Lest we ever forget, the gospel has the power to change lives. You might say, You don’t know my brother-in-law or my neighbor or my boss. I don’t care how bad they are -- no one is too far gone; no one is so bad that the grace of God cannot save them. And when they choose to believe and follow Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! God gives us a new nature upon salvation. We are born with a sin nature, but once we accept the gospel, God gives us a new nature to be able to live a godly life. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.