I’ve been studying the topic of love lately. As I jump from passage to passage I come across ones that I find are applicable over here.
I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk,
(1Ti 1:3-6 NRSV)
Paul tells Timothy to deal with a problem in Ephesus. Some people are teaching “different doctrine.” The word is heterodidaskeleo. The meaning of hetero is much like it is English. It means simply different or another. Homogeneous means everything is the same, and heterogeneous means things are different. The 2nd half of the word means teaching or doctrine. Literally it isn’t as strong “false teaching” although some of the major translations render the word this way (NIV, NET, TNIV). When the word false is used to describe testimony, teachers, prophets or Christs the word pseudo is used.
I don’t believe Paul’s concern was that the people in Ephesus were teaching things directly contrary to apostolic doctrine, just that it was futile, vain and empty. They promoted meaningless speculations or controversies. What they taught distracted people from the grand purpose of apostolic teaching.
The purpose is love. Love that comes from:
- pure heart
- a good conscience
- sincere faith
I think Paul is giving us some guidelines which we can use to test teaching. Does the teaching lead me to love or something else? Does it tempt me towards showmanship and pretension or sincerity? Is my conscience clean as I apply it? Is it about faith or fear?
It has never been my goal with this website to trash any particular stream in the body of Christ. I have to say though that the Charismatic stream really needs to consider this passage. I’m watching a video of a prophetic conference and it is filled with teaching that amounts of meaningless speculation. None of it seems like an obvious false teaching, it just places so much emphasis on things that don’t matter all that much.
Here are some blurbs I heard tonight:
- 2011 is a year of transition as 11 is a the number of transition
- Every word that came out tonight opened a gate for a new level of intimacy with God
- Enter in and experience a deeper level in the spirit realms
None of these kinds of things are in direct opposition to orthodox Christian teaching. But when all the teaching and direction we receive is like this when it seems to crowd out the basic biblical doctrines.
They seem to be distractions that take us away from Christ and they can subtly lead us away from precious and plain truths in the Christian faith. People don’t need to go to the next conference to receive the next word to gain a new level of intimacy with God. The plain truth is that sincere faith leads to love of God and intimacy.
The covering teaching starts off like this. It tempts with promises of increased favour, authority, blessing and protection. I think where it ends up is more like straight up false teaching. Is the purpose of the covering teaching love or control? Not just appreciation or friendliness but love that comes from pure heart. Is the love real, or is it manufactured to fit in with a system? Is the faith or trust sincere or is derived from coercion or fear?
If what motivates us to act is manipulation or legalism we won’t be acting out of a pure heart, good conscience and a sincere faith.