Read 1 Timothy 1 Tim 1:3-20
3As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work — which is by faith. 5The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers — and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
18Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 19holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. 20Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. (NIV)
We see from the beginning of this letter and other letters Paul wrote, that the early church was dealing with controversies. It seems that this has been a consistent through our walking with Christ. We get off message and begin to delve into things that are not productive.
Paul here states that the people are dealing in myths and endless genealogies (verse 4). The Greeks poets loved to write stories about heroes and how cities were started by the gods. They were also enthralled with endless genealogies. Even Alexander the Great had created a genealogy that that traced is ancestry back to Achilles and Andromache on one side and Perseus and Hercules on the other side.
One of the problems of constantly looking back is that we seek identity in our past and not our future. For me, Christ tells us that we are defined by our future, not our past. In Christ, we are a new creation with a new hope and a new life. In this new life, we are able to love as Christ loves, the goal of Paul’s commandment in verse 5.
Paul then moves to talking about the law and its purpose. For Paul, the law had only one true purpose, to show people their need for God. The law’s one purpose was to show we are sinners in need of help. The law does not save, but points us to a need for salvation. That is why Paul says the law becomes useless to the righteous. The righteous live through Christ’s righteousness and seek to be obedient to Christ.
Paul transitions to his own testimony. This is a great way to share God’s love with others, but weaving what God has done for us into the stories we share. Paul begins with a truth, Christ came into the world to save sinners and transitions that to his own self by saying of whom I am the worst.
Paul closes this section of the letter by encouraging Timothy to hold on to his faith which will help him fight the good fight.
While who we are as reflected by our past can bring good to our future, we must also recognize that our past can never be as good as a future in Christ’s love. Do you see your future as only getting better in Christ? Do you live this hope out? What does it mean to be a sinner redeemed by Christ in the way you live each day? It is sometimes hard to think of ourselves as sinners, but when we remember that sin is but separation from God, then being a redeemed sinner is being connected to God through Christ. Does looking at this well make our future brighter.
Blessings and Peace