“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith» (l Timothy 1:5).
CERTAIN BRETHREN in Ephesus had engaged in long and fruitless debates about myths and endless genealogies and had lost the essence of the gospel. For this reason, Paul challenges Timothy to foster an atmosphere of love in the church and gives him three tips:
It is necessary to have a clean heart. True religion is not limited to ceremonies or external manifestations, the power of God transforms the inside, thoughts, feelings, and motives. It means including all desirable character traits and excluding undesirable ones. It is not just about washing the outside, but first cleaning what is on the inside.
It is necessary to have a good conscience. It is the inner faculty of the mind that judges the moral righteousness of thoughts, words, and actions, regardless of a person’s tastes or inclinations. The word conscience means knowing one’s own intentions, it is the internal judge who accuses us when we do the wrong thing and approves us when we do the right thing.
Paul mentions a good conscience, without offense, enlightened, clean, and faithful, but he also speaks of a weak, cauterized, and corrupted conscience that has become insensitive to its faults because it has been sinful for so long. Only humble dependence and absolute trust in the Lord provide us with a good conscience.
It is necessary to have a sincere faith. This implies a faith without excuses, without disguises, without appearances, without hypocrisy. Some people talk so «nicely» that they should never get off the podium, but they live so «badly» that they should never get on it.
Ellen G. White tells us that the authentic and committed faith that sustained such reformers as the Waldenses, Wycliffe, Luther, Zwingli, and those who united with them was the infallible authority of the Holy Scriptures as a rule of faith and practice. They denied the right of popes, councils, Fathers, and kings, to control the conscience in matters of religion. Faith in God and His word sustained these holy men as they yielded up their lives at the stake. «Be of good comfort,» exclaimed Latimer to his fellow martyr as the flames were about to silence their voices, «we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out» (The Great Controversy, p. 249).
Lord, give us a clean heart, a good conscience, and an authentic faith. Give us such an evident faith that we may light an everlasting flame with eternal