Pursuing Ministry Nobility Rather than Religious Pragmatism.

We don't want one family member left behind at special events. The family picture should not be missing anyone! Similarly, we don't want anyone left behind in a church. We seek to protect each member so all can enjoy spiritual unity and progress.

A primary way to protect the church is to know how to address unbelief. Last week we learned that we must all individually purpose to address unbelief (1 Timothy 1:3-4). Everyone is involved in defending against the two main threats to the church. Legalism teaches that we are saved by rules and standards. Pragmatism uses any means to get people saved. Both seek to please men more than God.

Just like a speck of cross-contamination can severely affect a person with allergies, even a speck of these teachings of unbelief can destroy a church. Churches are built around legalism and pragmatism because they look attractive, but they are deadly.

This week, we will see the proper character, pure motive, and prepared minds that are necessary when we address unbelief.

Proper Character

The goal of true biblical teaching is love. This kind of love is a choice, not an emotion, and it has three sources:

A Pure Heart

This was David's request in Psalm 51. A pure heart must be a saved heart, one that has had its sins washed and seeks to please God through His Son Jesus. An unsaved heart will look for a church that gives them what they want. For the saved heart, Jesus and His Word are enough.

A Good Conscience

This source has a satisfying quality to it. Even unbelievers' consciences testify to God's moral law (Romans 2:14-15), but the believer is able to think along the same lines as God. When we are born again, we are influenced by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

A Sincere Faith

This last source is rooted in transparency. It is ministry without pretense. As we grow to think and act more like God over time, we will become a church that values the Word and rests in the sufficiency of Jesus. Falsehood, straying from the truth, and making fruitless decisions are all evidence of hearts that think Jesus and His Word are not enough.

Pure Motivation

James 3:1 and 1 Timothy 3:1 both speak to men desiring leadership in the church. Is this desire good or bad? God warns against a desire for leadership when it is an ambitious desire to be a church superstar. Knowledge of the Lord and His Word is required for leaders, but the false teachers in Ephesus didn't embrace this divine order. They loved the power and preeminence that came with a position of leadership.

People attempting to teach others, when they are not well-taught themselves, can be poison to a church even without wanting to be. A teacher needs a proper understanding of God and His Word. As many experienced pastors testify, the call to preach is the call to prepare.

Prepared Minds

Those who desire to teach and lead in the church must understand the basic truths of Scripture, which Paul lays out in 1 Timothy 1:8-11. First he discusses the purpose of the Law. The whole Old Testament is designed to show that God should be glorified, but we cannot do so properly because of sin. It all points ahead to Jesus Christ who bridges that gap.

The sin list in this passage mirrors the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20:1-17. These are sins that violate our relationship with God and others. As Paul further demonstrates in Galatians 3:24, the revelation of sin points to Christ.

Warren Wiersbe said, "The Law and the Gospel go together." The human soul needs to know condemnation before it will see the need to trust the only One who kept the Law perfectly.

Application Points

  • Do you have a pure heart that has been washed by Jesus' blood? Are you growing to think and act more like God over time?
  • Do you believe that Jesus and His Word are enough? Do you live like it?
  • Do you desire to teach? Make sure that your motivation is pure and you are prepared with a solid knowledge of God's Word. What steps can you take to prepare yourself now?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Romans 3:23, James 2:10 - We are all guilty of the whole Law.
  • Psalm 19:7 - God's Word transforms lives.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Free From Guilt and Free From Sin," written by Don and Jaree Hall

Dark, the stain I cannot hide;
Stain of sin, my guilt to prove.
Guilt my own, and foolish pride;
Pride, the reason for my sin.

Light of God came shining down;
Son of God, my soul to win,
Laid aside His heav’n-ly crown,
Paid the price for all my sin;
Paid the price for all my sin.

Wash me in the Savior’s blood;
Make me pure, without, within;
Cleanse my heart and set me free,
Free from guilt and free from sin,
Free from guilt and free from sin.

Love of God that lights my way;
Love displayed on Calvary;
Lamb of God my soul to save
Gave His life to set me free!

Gone, the darkness, come the Light:
Gone, the night, the day begins.
Gone, the wrong, my soul made right,
Free from guilt and free from sin;
Free from guilt and free from sin!