In 1Timothy 1:3-7 the apostle Paul gives these words to young pastor Timothy, “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. 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.”
As we will see in a few moments, this admonition, and others like it, were given constantly through three particular books of the Bible: 1&2 Timothy and Titus. Interestingly, these are called the “Pastoral Epistles”; which simply means these were letters written specifically to pastors. So, while all Christians should heed the godly council in these letters, we must keep in mind that they are first and foremost addressed to pastors. So what does the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, want us to learn? Let's take a look.
Timothy must have been wanting or planning to leave Ephesus, because Paul urged him to stay and command some (Christians) to stop teaching false doctrine. What falsehood were they teaching? That Christians are under the law of Moses(vs.7). They taught fairy tales and endless genealogies, which only brought up endless questions. They swerved from the straight and narrow path, and turned aside onto the broad road with their vain jangling (worthless arguments) and law teaching, which they themselves did not even understand. So it is today. Law preachers still don't know what they're saying.
Mr. Vain Jangles dances in our churches, doing a little jig called the Pharisee waltz. He desires to put New Testament Christians under the law of Moses. He tramples under his feet the Blood of Jesus on his way back to the other side of Calvary. He has his particular dance moves he really loves, and seeks to impose those same moves on you. In Paul's day, the biggy was the “Circumcision shuffle”. In our day, it might be the “Sabbath Keepin' Salsa”, or the “No Make-Up Macarena”, or the “Anti Pork Polka”, or the “No Television Tango”. At the end of the day, it's all a “Hustle”, and you won't be “Stayin' Alive”.
The Law of Moses is the ministry of condemnation and death (2Cor 3:7-9). It is meant to kill, not make alive (2Cor 3:6). It was given to make sin even more sinful, not take it away (Rom 7:13). The Law only gave us the knowledge of sin – not the solution (Rom 3:20). Here's a shocker: The Law was given to the Nation of Israel, not to the world! True, all the world becomes guilty before it; and it exposes to all of the world that man is sinful and in need of a Savior. However, it was only given to the Jews. Why are Christians always running around trying to get under something that was never even given to them to begin with? This kind of teaching is what Paul told Timothy (and Titus) to combat against.
Paul told Timothy to reject profane and old wives' tales (1Tim 4:7). He said that those that preach things opposed to the simple gospel of Jesus Christ are proud and know nothing, and are perverse disputers and have corrupt minds (1Tim 6:3-5). He said to avoid profane and worthless babbling, and supposed oppositions of science (1Tim 6:20-21). He said to shun profane and vain babbling, for they just cause more ungodliness (2Tim 2:16-18). He said to avoid foolish and unlearned questions, because they just stir up strife (2Tim 2:23-24). He told Titus to watch out for vain talkers and deceivers of the circumcision (Tit 1:10). He told him not to listen to Jewish fables (Or any other, for that matter), that turn from the truth of the Gospel (Tit 1:14). Paul told Titus to avoid foolish questions, genealogies, and arguments concerning the law: because they are worthless (Tit 3:9). The pure Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a fable, but absolute truth (2Pt 1:16). It becomes fable when men try to add to, or take away from, the Gospel truth.
Here is a sober warning: the day will come when many in the church will not endure sound doctrine, and they will turn away from the truth, and will turn to believing fables (2Tim 4:3-4). We need to stand fast in our liberty in Christ (Gal 5:1). We need to be careful not to be tricked out of our freedom and salvation in Christ, as well as tricked out of our reward, through enticing words of man's so-called wisdom (Eph 5:6, Col 2:4, 8, 18). Draw a line in the sand. Don't let Mr. Vain Jangles condemn and manipulate you into doing his “Hypocrite Ho-down.”, or his “Torah Two-Step”. Know who you are in Christ. Understand the finished work of Jesus Christ (Rom 10:4). Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Don't think your meager attempt at law keeping is going to impress God, or buy you one ounce of righteousness – because it won't. Righteousness can only be received as a gift of God's grace and love, through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 5:17). Whom The Son makes free, is free indeed! Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!