The ESSENCE of GOD’s COMMANDMENT is to ‘LOVE’: "Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" (1 Tim. 1:5)
The two letters of Apostle Paul to his spiritual son Timothy reflects the heart of a father as he tries to counsel his son regarding what he should look out for during his pastoral ministry of the church at Ephesus. It is obvious that truth and error have battled since the early days of the Christian faith in the first century, and at the start of his letter, Paul urges Timothy to counter those who taught strange doctrines, myths, and endless genealogies at the church of Ephesus (vv. 3–4). Thereafter, Paul gives many guidelines for sorting out and testing what people say about faith issues and practices, and lays out God’s ultimate commandment regarding the practice of love (v. 5).
The essence of God’s commandment for us is to love others from a clear and pure heart. There is a spiritual progression evident from our lives: our sincere faith in Jesus Christ produces a good conscience in us as we are cleared from all wrongdoing before God by Jesus’ atonement. This in turn leads to a pure heart, that is, a life free of sin, which in turn produces real love to God, to our fellow believers, and to the world in general. This process is followed every time when the gospel of the grace of God is preached to us and God’s Word begins to work in our lives.
God desires that our actions reflect a pure heart, and a clean inner life. If our inner life is unclean, then true Christian love can scarcely flow from it. Our love must be the by-product of a good conscience, that is, a conscience void of offense toward God and people. On top of this, our love must be the outcome of sincere faith, that is, faith that does not wear a mask of a hypocrite. In our contemporary Christian world, however, it is not unusual to see many proponents of Christ, whose spiritual houses are in disarray. They may speak Christian-talk with all the appropriate lingo and jargon, but their conduct does not align with their hearts. Their behavior is just a performance of piety and they behave as hypocrites (Matt. 23:28).
Apostle Paul wanted to promote God’s love in the church, and his instruction to Timothy highlighted the close connection between Christian faith, belief and practice (Gal. 5:6). God’s commandment does not lead to strife and debate but rather to love for God and man. It is the teaching of the grace of God that produces a pure heart, a good conscience, a sincere faith, and these inner attitudes should result in love. Thus, the test of all true teaching of God’s Word should produce real love from our words, actions and lives, which will distinguish us as true disciples of Jesus Christ. Let us move beyond outward display and truly love others as Christ has commanded us: