As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion,desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

1 Timothy 1:3-11

The church at Ephesus got more ink in the New Testament than most people realize. The epistle to the Ephesians has such high and lofty language that we often think of that church as being in great shape.

There was great teaching in Ephesus. Paul first stopped by briefly on his second missionary journey and left Aquila and Priscilla there (Acts 18:19-21). They began the process of planting the church. Then along came an excellent teacher named Apollos who, while teaching accurately, had to have Aquila and Pricilla explain the way more perfectly (Acts 18:24-26). Apollos spent some time teaching in Ephesus before moving on.

Paul spent three years in Ephesus in Acts 19 during which all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord. Paul was teaching and training daily in the hall of Tyrannus.

Both of the epistles to Timothy were being addressed to him while he was Paul’s chief representative in the church at Ephesus. And of course, Ephesus is one of the seven churches addressed by Jesus in Revelation 2.

With all this excellent teaching ministry, you would think the Ephesians would have their act all together, but not so. To get an understanding of their shortcomings we need to look at the correctives in the Epistle to the Ephesians and the directives Paul gave to Timothy who was in charge of the church in Ephesus as well as Jesus’ commentary on the Ephesian church in Revelation 2.

The key verse in 1 Timothy is chapter 1 verse 5. “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” The charge he refers to in this passage is a charge to deal with false teaching and correct the falsehoods.

Sound teaching is to produce love that comes out of a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith. Part of the error of the false teachers was that they dealt in “truths” that were subject to a great deal of speculation. This is a huge point. Speculative doctrine will not produce a pure heart, a good conscience nor a sincere faith. This is a good test for us. If you begin to hear teaching that is built on speculation rather than sound, rock solid Scriptural teaching, run from it. It won’t have the power to deal with the impurities in your heart, it won’t lead you to a good conscience and most important of all, it won’t produce a sincere (or genuine) faith.

We all have to watch ourselves and the teaching we are listening to and sharing with others to see to it that we are living the life of faith we are called to and the faith we are pointing others to. To be a valuable disciple-maker we must, as Paul exhorts Timothy, watch both ourselves and the teaching we share with others.

One good test to put to ourselves is whether or not we are pursuing teaching that is built on speculation. One red flag that may give us a hint is, do we find ourselves arguing with other believers over non-essentials? Is all of our sharing of the faith contentious?

We need to ask ourselves, “Is our heart pure (no ulterior motives other than the glory of God), do we have a good conscience (nothing nagging you that is out of line with what you know is in accord with the gospel), do we have a sincere faith?” If we have questions about any of this, we probably need to do a deeper examination and repent when we discover what is wrong.

The aim is love.