Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. (1 Tim. 1:5-7)
Paul's enemies were using the law to stir up opinion against him, as well as "fables" and "other doctrine" (vs. 3-4) contrary to the gospel. They had to challenge Paul's apostolic authority with a stronger one. They thus repeatedly brought in pharisarical concepts of the law and tried to take the position of defenders of the law by giving it preeminence over grace and faith. Paul had reminded Timothy (vs. 1-4) that he had been instructed to challenge those who taught any other doctrines, which only served to create questions rather than promote godly edifying. Paul here told Timothy that the end of the commandment (law) is to understand charity, and love to God and man. This understanding of and commitment to charity, he says, comes from a "pure heart," a "good conscience," and "faith unfeigned." The opposite is thus also true. If the law is turned into fables and questions rather than practical, applied charity, it is not only being badly applied, it may not be coming from a pure heart, a good conscience, or genuine faith. Our culture has reduced love to an emotion. But the most lawless and reprobate men might have very real emotions. Their love and how they show it is only as good as their character. This often does not come from a pure heart, a good conscience, or true faith. Paul said that love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:8-10). If this sounds too external and cold to those of us who are used to thinking of love as an emotion, we must remember that the missing element is not emotion but what he here tells Timothy a pure heart, a good conscience, and true faith. Our hearts are naturally at enmity with God and hence our emotions tend to be self-serving. But even at their best, our trivial emotions cannot be equated with our duty to God. Paul speaks of a pure heart. Our hearts must be purified by faith (Acts 15:9). God regenerates our cold, dead hearts by grace through faith to enable us to will and to do His good pleasure. With a pure heart we can call upon God so that we can display Christian virtue (2 Tim. 2:22). Paul then speaks of a good conscience. A good conscience is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to the right hand of God (1 Pet. 3:21-22). Jesus Christ's victory over sin and death is our victory over sin and death. Because we truly believe in forgiveness, we have consciences free from guilt. One reason Christians are so viciously attacked is that they cannot be easily manipulated by false guilt. Every time Biblical ethics are attacked an alternative is in view. Because strong Christians are not easily dissuaded from their adherence to the Word they are not easily made to feel guilt in terms of a new morality. Challenges and false assertions thus quickly give way to vicious insult.
The third element necessary to an active love stemming from law is the most important. We must have a "faith unfeigned." Professions of faith which do not display pure hearts, good consciences, and charity are insincere. Faith is the evidence of God's regeneration, which is never without effect. A regenerate heart will give a man a clear conscience and a proper understanding of his duty to obey God's Word. This teaches him to love God with all his heart, mind and spirit. He then understands his responsibility to love his neighbor as himself. The redeemed man begins to see all of life's responsibility in terms of his responsibility to his Heavenly Father. Love as the fulfilling of the law is then not seen as cold and external but as a truly personal and self-fulfilling means of honoring one's God and neighbor. But some the some that taught "other doctrines" (v. 3) have not reached that goal of charity. Instead they "swerved," they consciously stopped aiming at the goal and "turned aside." They ended up in a maze of "vain jangling" empty, vain, idle, useless words. Instead of promoting charity they only created words arguments, questions, and divisions. They left the path and went astray. Paul's meaning is obvious we are not to follow them or their ideas. These pharisaical Judaizers professed to be experts on the law (v. 7). Yet they did not understand its end of charity. They had turned aside to make it a matter of debate. In the arrogance of their profession of wisdom they became fools (Rom. 1:22). They were "proud, knowing nothing" (1 Tim. 6:4). Judaizers felt the law was for justification so they distorted it. Today, many incorrectly feel the law is a threat to justification by faith, so they deny it. Both positions have done harm to the gospel message. Proponents of both ideas have tried to claim themselves as the defenders of true religions the Judaizers to Paul and the antinomians in our day. But Scripture must be taken for what it claims to be one whole, consistent, inerrant Word of God for His elect people. Any idea which lessens the law's role in God's Revelation must be rejected. Likewise, any idea which turns it into something other than God's will for man's life of obedience must be rejected. It was in Moses' day, Paul's day, and our day, as it will be throughout all eternity, God's holy law.