“Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” 1 Timothy 1:6-7, NIV
The picture this paints for me is when I have been part of a group and the group begins talking about subjects or areas with which I am clueless. Out of pride, I tend not to reveal my ignorance. Instead, I embrace the old additive, “fake it ‘til you make it.” I do exactly what Paul is describing above, talking about that of which I know nothing. My talk is meaningless because no true substance or understanding to undergirds my words. In short, I become nothing but “hot air.” I believe this is similar to what Paul is describing in these verses. These are people who want to teach, likely for prestige or esteem, but they are clueless about the heart of the subject matter. They may be promoting God’s Word, but they lack a true understanding of the underlying, core truths of the gospel. No true heart knowledge or real spiritual understanding seems to exist.
Anyone who has taught knows that you cannot teach effectively or well that of which you do not know. It is not enough to possess only a faint, cursory understanding which skims only the surface. To be a good teacher, you need to possess a certain level of mastery over the content combined with a passion for what you are teaching. But here, Paul tells us, “some have departed from these things.” What are the “things” from which have been departed? The preceding verse sheds light on this, “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5).” In other words, some of the Ephesians abandoned those things which facilitate a deeper relationship and intimacy with the Lord. Instead, they chose to just coast through by parroting words they have heard without truly grasping their meaning. It is also likely that these individuals are not interacting with the Word of God with a seeker’s heart. If they genuinely were, then God through the Holy Spirit would illuminate His Word in their hearts and bless them with spiritual understanding. However, this is not the case. They have turned away from the deeper things of love that are rooted in purity of heart, good conscience, and sincere faith, towards meaningless talk. Please do not misunderstand. I don’t believe Paul is telling us that we need to be Bible scholars or theologians to teach or help others gain a greater understanding of His Word. However, I do believe an inference exists which we should not miss. Are we chasing empty or meaningless things which do not give purpose or value? Or are we pursuing the things of God which bring richness and fullness of life? Because If we are turning to empty and hollow things, our talk becomes not only meaningless, but our lives will as well. Likewise, if we are also lacking in love, heart, conscience, and faith, we are less likely to be attune to the Spirit and more prone to wander. Let these verses give you pause to examine your heart. Is my heart pure before the Lord or have I abandoned my first love? Have I subsumed to the world and am now making choices and life decisions which violate my conscience? Is my faith one of thirsting hunger or sincere seeking? Let us commit to not depart from these things but remain faithful and true. Let us not engage in meaningless or ignorant talk but seek God with all sincerity. Let us use the Word of God to guide our decisions, and daily ask Him to cleanse us by the blood of Jesus that our hearts may be made pure.