“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
In this verse, Paul iterates to Timothy the aim of what authentic faith in Christ is to produce: authentic love and obedience. And this love manifests itself in strong affections for and desires to be with and obey Christ in the whole of life. In addition, this love manifests itself in strong affections for other brothers and sisters in Christ, encouraging them in their faith to pursue Christ with their all. And finally, it manifests itself in relation to the rest of the world and loving people in such a way that we testify to the Gospel, the good news of redemption in the work of Jesus Christ, that many may be saved. 1 John 2:4-6 says,
“Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
Now is John saying that we know we’re in Christ if we walk perfectly? No, he’s not, because in the previous chapter, in verse eight, he said, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But rather, have you seen change in your life, change that you cannot explain, that has not resulted from your own fleshly work, but as a result of God-wrought faith working in your heart so that you pursue God’s righteousness and turn from sin and self-righteousness? Paul says the aim of our charge is love that issues or comes from a pure heart, changed by the grace of God, where God has granted true, authentic belief and true repentance. There are many in the world, and specifically within American evangelicalism who find it very easy to say, “I know Him,” yet could give a rip about following Him, loving Him, or doing anything to His glory and honor. Why? Because they have not been born of the Spirit of God. It is clear there is no love for Christ, but rather for themselves and the world with its desires and passions. They view salvation as being all about them, being able to play golf in heaven as long as they feel like. They view their salvation as being rescued from trials so they can enjoy themselves while here: good marriage, good family, good job, good kids, good schools, nice retirement, die easy, and go to heaven and play. And they could care less about Christ Himself, loving Him, following Him. It is all about their desires, wants and needs, not the glory of God. Heaven is all about the glory of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation makes this abundantly clear.
Paul’s goal here in this one particular statement is to say that we do not aim for a love that we produce of our own sinful flesh, but a divine love that only God can produce in us as a result of God-produced, authentic faith in the work of Christ in His life, death and resurrection. What is inauthentic faith? A faith that we attempt to muster up by our own will and strength, that will indeed fail when the storms of life come. And they will. This faith is null and void of any authenticity. As John Piper says, you cannot look at the Son of God nailed to the cross and think that you will be spared suffering. We need a God-wrought faith in Christ to sustain us. Martin Luther said, “I believe that by my own reason and strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith.” Of the inauthentic, Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
This verse is scary mainly because it shows there are many who indeed profess Christ with their lips, and in their hearts they disbelieve all of it. The Last Day will reveal this to be the case. Jesus casts these people aside who say, “Lord, Lord!” and yet in their hearts, they altogether disregard Him. Their “good deeds” will actually condemn them because it is clear on the Last Day they have trusted in them alone to save them, not in Christ alone. Little do they know, as it states in Isaiah 64:6, “All our righteous deeds are like filthy rags,” that is righteous deeds done apart from faith alone in Christ (Hebrews 11). Paul said in Romans 14:23, “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” May we all pursue Christ to change our hearts so that we love Christ by His strength power and leave ourselves and our self-wrought works behind. May we pursue the holiness without which no one will see the Lord, but do it by the work of Christ on the cross, not ourselves. We are utterly dependant upon Him, and hopeless apart from Him. Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” May we pursue the “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith,” produced by the work of God alone in the cross of Christ.