“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:5
When Paul mentions “the aim of our charge” he is talking about “the goal of our preaching.” What every preacher needs to strive for in their preaching is to help their headers develop these attributes: a pure heart, a good conscience, a sincere faith.
Paul continues in verse 6: “Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion.” When we do not try to work toward these goals in our preaching, Paul tells us that our words are pointless.
Three quick ideas based on these three goals, each of which could be expounded upon greatly:
1) A pure heart – Our preaching should convict the heart of sin so that it can be repented of and forsaken. Any rival desires that compete with our affections for Christ should be exposed so that they can be removed. Like a refiners fire, our preaching should aim to burn away the impurities in our hearts by preaching the seriousness and the weight of sin, the holiness and majesty of the God it offends, and the harm and damage it brings to our own lives and the lives of those around us.
2) A good conscience – Our preaching should convince the repentant sinner that their sins are forgiven, that the blood of Jesus can and has washed them clean of their transgressions and iniquities, and they should be able to float out of the room, having shed the heavy yoke of the world and taken on the easy and light yoke of Jesus. Faithful preaching declares that the crucified Christ is able to free us from guilt, shame, and despair if we will repent. And the assuredness of that reality must be drilled down deep, because we so often forget. One of the simple, seemingly small, but astonishingly merciful benefits of the gospel is that we get to lay our heads down in peace at night.
3) A sincere faith – Our preaching should aim to bolster the faith of those who hear. This is accomplished much in the first two items, but additionally we should be ready to address any potential objections that would arise in our hearers minds. Preemptive apologetics in our preaching is important, especially in this day and age when we are bombarded with information from all sides that easily convinces is that a life of faith is not worth it because it’s unreasonable. The best way to do this? Work hard on the first two items—producing a pure heart and a clean conscience—and let this third naturally flow out of that. Too often we try to show people that Christianity is true without showing them why it’s a good thing that it’s true. Let’s flip that around. Let’s preach in such a way that both believers and unbelievers alike want what we say to be true, then let’s show them that it is, in fact, actually true. An appeal to reason that sits atop a foundation of primed desire will always be more effective.
Preach the Word, brothers. Guard what has been entrusted to you. Do so boldly, passionately, and fearlessly. Let your reasonableness, and your zeal, be known to everyone. You will never be ashamed of that.