We must demand for ourselves the very thing that God has desired for us. God knows what is best for us when we do not. The main reason to demand the truth from men who are godly, or pretend to be, is best stated by the Apostle Paul, when he wrote to Timothy. “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” 1 Timothy 4:6.
Paul admonished Timothy to pay attention to himself, that is his behavior, manner of life, his character, and his priorities, so that he would live according to his teachings. We should always run as far and as fast as we can from hypocrites, because in the sight of God they are evil and extremely dangerous to their hearers. Good teaching comes from good and godly men, howbeit, many a man just sounds like he teaches well. For this reason, Paul wrote to Timothy urging him to be very careful to teach only the truth.
“As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” 1 Timothy 1:3, 4
I cannot tell you how many times people have told me, “I go to a good church because the
preacher always speaks from the Bible.” I guess many people don’t realize that the best way to put lies in God’s mouth is to speak from the Bible. The question is not, does the teacher read and even preach from the Bible, but does he speak accurately according to what God has already had written.
Look at what God says about false teachers. “For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.” 1 Timothy 1:6, 7
Any person who attends church should understand that there are men who make confident assertions about things they know nothing about. These are God’s words and not mine. Many a man today sounds so good and appealing but their discussion according to God is fruitless. They have personality, charisma, and even a form of godliness but at the same time deny the power of God to transform a sinner into a saint, or even declare the need of all sinful men. (2 Timothy 3:5)
About a year ago my wife and I were on a trip, and we decided to go to a church we had never been. The people were very friendly, and the service did not have anything in it that I would say was displeasing to God. Then came the sermon, from a preacher who seemed bent on magnifying men that are good. The Bible is filled with men who are good, but if the preacher does not answer the question as to why the men are good, then he does not preach the gospel correctly.
Jesus Christ is the only source of all good, and the only one that can transform a sinner into a saint. In many ways, the testimony of Old Testament saints parallel the person of Christ in order to point to the coming Messiah. All saints are only reflections of God in the person of Jesus Christ. God doesn’t bless good people, except that those good people are made good through Jesus Christ.
What I hope to do through this blog is to point out a measuring line, so that my readers can assess if a preacher is pointing to Christ, or just calling men to think of themselves as good. The book of 1 Timothy is Paul telling Timothy about proper behavior in the church, from the pulpit to the pew.
The man that does not know how to assess the pastor will fall prey to every charlatan that comes along, and he may want to get rid of a godly preacher. Therefore, notice the admonitions to good teachers and good teaching throughout 1 Timothy. The qualification of all Christians are made clear in this book, and men who lead must be held to the same standard but to a higher level of accountability. No one gets a free ticket as to how they should live, but the one who leads others and is in the public eye must be held to a higher level of accountability to the exact same standard.