Summary: There is a lot of arguing among Christians. This sermon looks at why that's largely worthless and where God would have to focus instead.
ARGUING AND CONTROVERSIES: Sometimes we act like the symbol of our faith is a bullhorn.
- 1 Timothy 1:4 (“promote controversies”), 6 (“meaningless talk”), 7.
- Sometimes we act like a bullhorn is the symbol of our faith – we speak loudly to drown out the other guys.
- It’s not how well you say it as much as how loud you say it, we seem to think.
- We like to argue. We like to prove that we’re right.
- Ironically, considering the point of this passage, it is especially the talkers like these who think they’re the “real Christians” because they “have the insight,” or “defend the truth,” or “have the Spirit” that makes them God’s favorites.
- I will confess up front to having had some tendencies in this direction, especially as a young Christian.
- Not so much the yelling part of it, but definitely the arguing part of it.
- I enjoyed debating issues, whether with non-Christians or fellow believers. I was respectful (at least I think I was!) and not one to yell my views, but still I enjoyed that arguing.
- I have, over the years, come to see the relative futility of such conversations. Sometimes they are necessary, occasionally they are effective, but usually they serve little constructive value.
- Three examples of how we promote controversies:
a. Finding hot-button issues.
- Homosexuality, abortion.
b. Exploiting wedge issues.
- Worship music, Bible translation.
c. Emphasizing what their denomination has right (or others wrong).
- Eternal security, speaking in tongues.
THE WRONG QUESTION: Do I ask, “Do I know more?” or “Do I love more?”
- Is our focus on “how I’m right?” or “how I’m righteous?”
- By righteous, I don’t mean self-righteous – I mean genuinely like Christ.
- The goal is not for you to be educated, but to be transformed.
- Not that religious education is wrong or that knowing more about the Bible is a bad thing. It’s not. But that’s not the point.
- The point is for you to become like Jesus.
- It’s not about proving you’re right; it’s about showing you’re saved.
- Rather than being a know-it-all, true faith recognizes:
a. Rather than knowing it all, I focus on what I don’t know, haven’t achieved, and am still lacking in my maturity.
b. By faith means that I still have to grow in ways that I don’t yet grasp.
c. God is the one who knows it all and I am seeking what He has.
WHERE DOES MORE LOVE COME FROM?
- Verse 5 points out to us some of the elements of this love we’re seeking.
1. I GET A "PURE HEART" AND "GOOD CONSCIENCE" BY USING THE BIBLE TO UNDERSTAND SIN IN MY HEART AND MIND AND GET RID OF IT.
- 1 Timothy 1:5 (“pure heart” and “good conscience”).
- One of the ways that we get more love in our hearts is to have less sin.
- God is love, so to have more of Him in our hearts is to have more love.
- Paul here points to both a “pure heart” and a “good conscience.” Both of those happen in part by taking our sin seriously and actively pursuing holiness.
- I want to have the sin gone and to have more of Christ in my life. Obviously a lot of things are required to move in that direction, but the initial one is to know what’s sin and what’s of God.
2. I GET A "SINCERE FAITH" BY TRUSTING GOD TO MOVE ME FORWARD ON THINGS I DON'T KNOW.
- 1 Timothy 1:5 (“sincere faith”).
- Faith is the evidence of things not seen.
- The people mentioned in the passage were focused on how much they know.
- Faith is focused on what I don’t have yet. It’s focused on trust. It’s focused on walking forward as someone in need of God’s leading and insight.
WHY IS GOD'S WORK "BY FAITH"? It promotes the humility of knowing how much we need God for our salvation and for our guidance.
- Verse 4 says something that’s worth pondering: that the work of God is by faith.
- What’s that mean and how does it tie into the larger passage?
a. What’s that mean?
- There are at least a couple ways that is important here.
1. Our salvation.
- It’s a reminder to us that we are not saved by our works or our knowledge. We are saved by grace through faith. In other words, we come not with how much we know and how great we are – we come with empty hands.
2. Our guidance.
- It’s also a reminder that we don’t know where exactly God is leading or what He’s doing. We are very dependent on Him. We need His Spirit to guide us through our daily decisions. We need His wisdom to orchestrate the larger plan of our lives for maximum impact and fruitfulness.