Mickey D. Brackin
Senior Pastor, Mars Hill Baptist Church, Lawrenceburg
The greatest resource and best way to identify a counterfeit is to become totally familiar with the real and genuine. Whether it’s in the banking world of counterfeit bills or in the church with false teachers and doctrines, the best way to recognize the counterfeit is to be soundly familiar with the real and true.
In I Timothy 3 Paul had written concerning the character and conduct of church leaders. Now he once again turns his attention to the false doctrines and false teachers that are influencing the church at Ephesus. Timothy and the church leadership must be able to recognize these counterfeits and respond accordingly. It was imperative that the church not be led astray by such teachings and if left unchecked these doctrines would spread like a cancer among the church.
Chapter 4 begins with a reminder of these false teachings (vv. 1-3). Paul, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, warns that in the last days some will depart from the faith following false doctrines and false teachers. Paul very plainly identifies the source of such falseness as the doctrine of demons and deceiving spirits.
Paul mentions two such practices that had infiltrated the church at Ephesus. Paul warned against the false teachings of “adopting ascetic practices that would prohibit marriage and also abstinence from certain foods” (Thomas D. Lee).
Considering the growing apostasy Paul emphasizes Timothy’s responsibilities as a servant and minister of Jesus Christ (vv. 6-13). Timothy is to set the standard by his own conduct, character, faith, and devotion to Jesus Christ. He is to preach and teach the truth of sound doctrine to which he himself has been instructed (vv. 6-7). The way to battle such error is to be strong in the Word.
According to Warren Wiersbe, “The good minister preaches the Word that he himself feeds on day by day. But it is not enough to preach the Word; he must also practice it.”
Timothy must understand the place of the temporal but must focus on the importance of the eternal (v. 8). Timothy, as a good minister of Jesus Christ, must pursue excellence (v. 10). John MacArthur tells us, “The ministry of excellence is not only a heavenly pursuit demanding hard work. An excellent minister lives with hope and is not motivated by instant gratification or immediate fulfillment. He has fixed his hope on the living God.”
Apparently for some, Timothy’s age presented a problem. Paul quickly puts such a problem to rest by instructing Timothy to be an example in word, conduct, love, faith and purity, while committing himself to public reading, preaching and teaching of the Scriptures.
The counterfeit is best exposed when the real and genuine is best made known. “Timothy be an example.”