The best way to protect the church from religious racketeers is to compare the nature and practice of the false and genuine.
God always and in every place enables us to carry on effective ministry despite difficulties. 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 gives 4 truths we can use to maintain effective ministry as a church during these providentially difficult times. Last week, we looked at the first.
At first reading, Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 seems to advocate being a little bit wicked. But this interpretation would not fit with the rest of Scripture. Instead, Solomon is showing that excessively applying righteousness and piling on wickedness are both dangerous. We should not come to conclusions about a person's character too quickly.
The second group Paul addresses in the Ephesian church is a small group of people teaching false doctrine. They were inside the local body but not actually born again in Christ. Paul describes these false teachers and directly addresses Spirit-filled saints about how to recognize falsehood.
At worst, the doctrine of legalism teaches we can save ourselves. At best, it teaches what we can do ourselves to gain favor with God. Either way, the source is one of darkness. Those who know the Lord Jesus as their Savior no longer have to worry about pleasing God. Because of our position in Christ, pleasing God becomes natural to us.
In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul has explained legalism's attempts to earn approval with God. Next, he outlines the contrasting virtues of godly servants.
Fire drills and tornado drills can seem redundant, but they are necessary for collective safety. Paul drills Timothy on defending the faith in 1 Timothy 4:1-5. His words tie back to the instruction in chapter 1 on addressing falsehood in the church. Pragmatism or legalism is addressed through rehearsing the Gospel and individual believers' testimonies. Falsehood does not encourage outreach because it has no message to share outside the church. It works inside and divides the flock. Genuine believers embrace the Gospel and seek to take it outside the walls of the church.
1 Timothy 1 is all about ministry balance. Paul emphasizes three things necessary for Timothy's ministry and every local church:
Every member must take responsibility for all three. A congregation that only teaches sound doctrine or only evangelizes will know success for a while, but a flock where each saint embraces the challenge of learning to defend the body of faith entrusted to them will know the eternal blessing of God.
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