Tuesday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Timothy 1:1-20 (NKJV)
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,
2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.
8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
It is often said, “There shouldn’t be divisions in the Church.” Yet, this is one text (of many) that reveals why God brings about separation: it is for the sake of His truth! Fallen flesh, by its very nature, though, ever strives to stay alive. This is undertaken when the flesh maligns God’s Word by changing or purposely mis-teaching His doctrine, which is ultimately calling God a liar. As revealed in Ephesus, a nothing-new-under-the-sun, ever on-going thought of fallen flesh is that it can stay alive by way of the Law.
God, through St. Paul, urges Timothy that he “may charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” St. Paul is exhorting Timothy to carry out such a charge through the Office of the Holy Ministry into which he ordained him. Yet, not putting up with heterodoxy is also exhorted to—and expected of—all Christians.
A Christian’s confession of being a totally depraved sinner while remaining in the flesh is a confirmation of the truth of God’s Law. As faith does self-examination according to God’s Ten Commandments, all Christians repentantly conclude that they are the “chief of sinners,” yet God’s purpose of the Law drives to His Holy Gospel. As Luther once put it, “before God I will gladly be a sinner, that this article [of forgiveness and justification through faith in Christ’s merits] may remain true” (W.A. 29. 573 f.).
We pray: Almighty and Everlasting God, give to us the increase of faith, hope, and love, and that we may obtain what You promise, make us to love what You command; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.