The Goal of Instruction1
Occasionally, I find myself reading the Bible and learning doctrine out of obligation or responsibility. Paul gives instruction in this matter as he speaks to young Timothy regarding the purpose of knowledge and obedience: “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).
The goal of instruction is love. This is a theme that we see throughout the Bible. The greatest two commandments are to love God and others (Luke 12:30-31). Of course, we are never able to fulfill the requirements of God’s command on our own. We need grace to overcome our old nature. We need grace to do what is right. However, we need another gracious gift: Christ’s righteousness. While we strive to be pleasing to God by loving Him and others, we rest in peace and joy knowing that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. He is the one who completely and perfectly loves the Father. He is the one who was tempted in all things and yet without sin; He is the one who completed His Father’s will.
Paul continues to describe this love. Loving obedience is rooted in a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. A pure heart is needed to love because true love is devoid of sinful thoughts and desires (1 Cor. 13:6). A good conscience is necessary to discern right from wrong and to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. A sincere faith gives us peace and confidence in the promises of God so that we can act in love without reservation.
What is your purpose and motivation for gaining instructions and following commands? Is it mindless obligation? When you consider obedience out of love does it issue from a pure heart, good conscience and a sincere faith? These are questions that I need to repeatedly ask myself because my heart and affections wander and old habits prevail if not corrected. Whether I am reading the Bible for spiritual growth or even interacting with those who are teaching false doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3), the goal needs to be kept in mind. Our knowledge and obedience are in vain unless driven by love and issued “from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”