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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Aim of Our Charge

Last night I read: "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." (1 Timothy 1:5 ESV) This is the description of a disciple. The disciple is pure in heart because he has given it to his Lord. He has a good conscience because he is forgiven. He has a sincere faith which requires his actions because disciples do the commandments of Jesus. Faith is not something that is believed without actions. It requires actions or there is no sincere faith.

From these traits spring forth love. I, like many other people, have gotten this wrong over the years. I have told people to love Jesus and they will start doing what pleases Him. This says that doing what pleases Him causes us to love Him.

My former understanding comes from the language of this world. It says that you feel love and do what the one you love wants. If you don’t feel love you don’t do anything. This is a great way to break up a marriage, isn’t it? You don’t feel love so you do nothing your spouse enjoys. Your spouse, then, doesn’t feel love and does nothing too. Instead, think of having a pure heart, good conscience and a sincere commitment to your spouse. From this love will come.

What would a church look like which was full of people who had a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith? It would have people seeking new ways to serve their Lord. They would seek Him, listen to Him and go do what He called them to do. They would bring souls to Christ on a regular basis. They would never seek their own gratification. They would be so in love with their Lord that every contribution was truly for His glory. They would wake up each day amazed that the Lord would inhabit someone like them. They would be full of gratitude and see God’s gifts to them in each day. They would be full of life. And their love for others would be legendary.

I realize that the ones that read this blog are probably already doing the things that I encourage here. This means that you probably have a testimony about your love for Jesus because you have a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith.

There are many people who attend our churches who are not like you. They don’t know the joy that can be found in these things. They are depending upon loving before being. They do not realize that you have to be before you love. The non-believer cannot love Jesus for he doesn’t know Him. He must commit his life to Jesus to fall in love. The believer will not love Him without commitment either. I guess we have our work cut out for us. This is the calling of those who love Him.

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.


Anonymous said...

What is the charge there, in the verse 5? The charge was given by the Apostle Paul to young Timothy, and that charge was revealed in verses 3-4. Timothy was asked in those verses 3-4 to get certain men to stop teaching false doctrines, myths, endless genealogies.  Verse 4 said that these false teachers were promoting controversies, rather than God's work. Verse 6 said these false teachers turned to meaningless talk; and had wandered from goal that Paul put down in verse 5.  In other words, the teachings of these teachers no longer promote the growth of love coming from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  These wayward teachers were either to revert back to the desired teachings or they were to be commanded by Timothy not to continue with their false teachings.

From the above, it is clear that false doctrines won't lead to the development of the desired love. Teaching of myths, won't, also. Endless genealogies also won't. Promoting controversies won't do, too.  Meaningless talk won't do. Not promoting doing of God's work, which is to be done by faith, also won't do.

So, what will foster development, in the believers, of love coming from a pure heart and good conscience and sincere faith?  The love here, of course, must be referring to loving God. And, according to my understanding of Scripture, loving one another as the Lord loves us, is a proof, if not, the proof of, our love for God.  We also know, from elsewhere in Scripture, it is not a case of us loving God first, rather it is God first loved us, and we knowing the love of God, love Him back.  

If one loves God too little, is it God did not love the person enough? No, it cannot be; we will never find anyone loving God more than God loved him/her.  For everyone of us, God already loved us more than we could ever love Him back. So, how does growth in our love for God, come about? 

The question we have to answer is this: Was Paul saying, love cometh from having a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.  In other words, was Paul saying, if we want to have greater love for God, we have to increase the purity of our heart, and the goodness of our conscience, and sincerity of our faith? If it were so, is the pastor to do the necessary (including teaching), to increase the purity of hearts of his congregation, and the goodness of conscience of the same, and sincerity of the same, so his congregation will love God more? If I am reading it right, this is the line of thought Ps Prentis has taken. Ps Prentis said, "From these traits spring forth love"


Anonymous said...

Cont. Fr above

Now, have my love for God increased over the years, especially in the more recent years? My honest answer is yes. Now, how did it come about? Did my heart became purer? Did my conscience got better? Did my faith got more sincere? Is the more love, cometh from these increases - purity of heart, good conscience and sincerity of faith?Or is it the increase in love came about, due to something else?

My conviction is that Paul was emphasizing the condition of the soul, from which our love for God, flows out; in other words, love from impure heart and bad conscience and insincere faith is not quite acceptable to God. For example, philanthropy with ill-gotten
 gains from wicked preoccupations, and the same, with honest gains from honest jobs or businesses, are NOT the same; the world may see the two as the same, but NOT God, if the philanthropy of the former is not coming from an already repentant heart.  Using the example as an illustration, I am saying purity of heart, good conscience, and sincere faith, are not held out here, as the "causal" of more love, any more than honest jobs or businesses is the cause of philanthropy. I give another example, a closer example to illustrate:  in the matter of giving to God (or God's work), as an act of love; one can be giving out of his excesses or giving out of loose change, and another, out of cut-back of his needs. The contribution of the latter maybe little, but it would be more deeply appreciated by God.  What comes to mind, is also a passage in the Book of Isaiah, where God said all the righteous acts of the children of God then, were as filthy rags to Him. It was the condition of soul then, of the children of God, that became  like an abomination to God, and so, whatever coming out from those souls, including love and acts of love, were not acceptable to God.

Core manifest or expression of men's love for God is pleasing. We don't need to provide for God, we don't need to protect God, and we don't need to equip or empower God, and not to mention, we don't need to teach/counsel God. The language of love when it comes to God, is He is to be pleased.  When we want to please God, it is we love God, and want to manifest it.  Therefore,  the charge is for us to please Him from pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith. 

From the perspective of the man (the one who loves), he loves God, even when his love is coming from a heart God considered as not pure enough. Such a man, he tries to love God whom he knows not enough; his love, God can ill-receive it in. Paul understood this well; and he wrote in the Book of Romans, about how he went through the cities of the Greeks, and then he engaged the Greek philosophers, and started preaching to the Greeks, opening with saying, he saw the Greeks worshiped "The unknown God".

Yes, we can love God properly, only when we know Him, and it starts with us knowing He loved us so much that He gave one and only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for us, so that whosoever believe in Him, Jesus, should not perish but have eternal life.  The more we know Him, the more we can love Him properly. The more we know Him, the more we can know how to please Him, as the manifest or expression of our love for Him.  The more we know Him, the more we can understand we need to have a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincerity of faith. 


Anonymous said...

Cont. Fr above

Faith was included, consistent with Heb 11:6a which stated for us, that without faith it is impossible to please God.  Sincerity of faith includes, not pretending (no pretense, please), no falsehood.  Recently, we have looked, here, on this blog, at the passage that warned against "a form or appearance of godliness". Any expression of love for God without faith, sincere faith, accompanying, cannot please God.

As to pure heart and good conscience, it is akin to pure heart and clean hands, talked about, in places, in Scripture.  I know some commentators associate good conscience with having being forgiven by God. Yes, it is God who can heal a seared conscience, through His forgiveness; but the call here is that we have to effort to, not let our conscience be seared. Now, if you stab a poor fellow on the back, causing him to lose his livelihood, and he unable to help his dire-strait family situation, leading to deaths, his collective misfortune is going to be on your conscience.  If you do wicked and evil deeds a lot, your conscience is going to turn bad.  The use of clean hands, was just pointing the unacceptability, from the deeds side - what you do, and hands epitomize doing or deeds. God is looking for men with clean hands and a pure heart (or pure heart and good conscience).  

What about pure heart? The heart (lev) is the inner person, the seat of emotions, thoughts and will.  The OT said that the heart of men is deceitfully wicked.  Jesus said that from the heart cometh our uncleanness, moral defilement and perversity.  David asked God to create in him, a clean heart. Matt 5:8 said blessed are the pure in heart, they will see God.  Heb 12:14 said, without holiness no one see God. 

My own understanding is that to be of pure heart is to be divine, as in being like God in terms of holiness.  The relevant facet of holiness here, is the setting apart from evil, is to hate what God hates - evil. One with pure heart is one having the fear of the Lord, which is defined in Pro 8:13, and also taught by King David in his Ps 34 vv11-14. 

One with pure heart is one with the wisdom of God, for fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, Godly wisdom. Do not be like King Solomon, in his ending; he started well, and of purity of heart, and was given great wisdom, but in his old age, he lost the purity of his heart. His father, King David gave us this psalm - Psalm 24, from which we get (vv3&4a) this: Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. Influenced by his concubines, Solomon in his old age, promoted the worship of pagan gods by building altars and places of worship of those pagan gods - losing the purity of his heart.

Purity of heart also speaks of one wanting to be led the Spirit of God. To be led by the Spirit, one must pledge agreement to the Holy Spirit (for the Holy Spirit is the one knowing the mind of God), after understanding God knows best (or He is Wisdom) even as he embraces holiness, as he knows God is holy (set apart from evil). So, even as the voice of Iniquity still blasts the heart, the one of pure heart, will refuse to listen to it, but harken to the voice of the Spirit which also works there, the heart. NT said that the laws are God are now (as opposed to OT) written in the heart. My understanding of this, is that, it is the Holy Spirit's voice that is being referred to.  The words (voice) of the Spirit of God is law; we are to do as we are told.

How can we get purity of heart? One with purity of heart is one abandoned to God, because God is his ideal idol; God is the best, above all, and none like Him; he will be willing to die for his idol.  And so, his idol, God, is also worthy of all his love.  How do we get to there? Get to know Him more and more. Don't just read the Word, live in it, because God is in it, not in the ink and paper.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions