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THREE ESSENTIAL GOALS FOR EVERY BELIEVER
by Philip Owen

            What goal are you working toward?  For some it may be no more than somehow to meet immediate demands and obligations, to survive the day.  Others may have more elaborate and long term goals.  But the goals of a believer should conform to those set forth in the Word of God—should they not?  And if so, what might they be?  Many surely come to mind, but Paul provides his young protege, Timothy, with three goals that the Holy Spirit of God and a lifetime of serving the Lord commended to his attention.  “Now the end [goal] of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (I Tim. 1:5).  Since these should be our goals as well, we will briefly examine them here.

 

            “Faith unfeigned.”  The goal of every believer should be to manifest a sincere faith, that is, one that is devoid of anything that is not genuine or true.  This goes for both the object and the expression of that faith.  In other words, sincere faith rests solely on the sound doctrines revealed in the Word of God and in the Person of Christ as revealed there.  A faith that rests in opinions, beliefs, doctrines, or practices not sanctioned in the Scriptures is an unsound faith that will lead astray the one who holds to it.  But our text actually focuses more on the expression of that faith, in which case, a sincere faith is one that is free of hypocrisy.  Our goal should be to trust in the Lord and His Word alone, to place no hope in our abilities, our circumstances, or any other natural or human contrivance, but truly to rest in the Lord both for salvation and for the affairs of our daily lives.  Fear, doubt, and unbelief are all evidences that the holy goal of “faith unfeigned” has yet to be fully achieved.

 

            “A good conscience.”  Without true faith, we can not hope to acquire a “good conscience.”  But the proper exercise of faith promotes the development of that faculty that enables us to discern between moral good and moral evil and to approve the former while disapproving the latter.  The life of a believer should be one in which sound moral judgments are being made constantly.  “This is right:  I will do it.”  And, “This is wrong:  I will shun it.”  A faith that does not have such a life as one of its goals is missing one of the purposes for which we have been redeemed.  The believer should scour the Word of God in order to understand God’s world view and live in accord with the mind of Christ.  Murky morality and lax living do not reflect the purpose for which we have been redeemed.  We are to be pure and holy as He is and so to reflect the character of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.

 

            “Charity out of a pure heart.”  The believer who has apprehended that for which Christ apprehended him (see:  Phil. 3:12) will be one whose life is characterized by love.  That such love is not the emotion-trumps-doctrine message of neo-evangelicalism in no way negates the need for genuine love that is rooted and founded in sound doctrine as the aforementioned goals of “unfeigned faith” and “a good conscience” make clear.  Love functions in accord with sound doctrine, not apart from it.  Charity out of a pure heart is love that is governed, not by feelings, appearance, or expediency, but by the will of God as revealed in Scripture.  It is a love that results in both attitudes and actions that are founded upon the instructions in the Word and is humble, self-effacing, and sacrificial in nature.  Charity out of a pure heart is charity that seeks to honor the Lord by serving others without concerns about the cost to self and without regard to how much it may be acknowledged or appreciated by them.  It is a love that does the right thing, the necessary thing, even the hard thing even if it is not appreciated.  Are these your desires and goals?  They should be, and they must be if you would honor your Savior.

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