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3. Confusing Legalism With Godliness

1 Timothy 1:7-11


One of the problems affecting the church in Ephesus was legalism or asceticism. These are characterized by a denial of good things. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines asceticism as “practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline.” Webster’s dictionary defines legalism as “strict, often too strict and literal, adherence to law.” Chuck Swindoll says that “legalism invariably denies the principle of GRACE and exalts the PRIDE of man.”

Day One Study

1. Read 1 Timothy 1:7-11 and 4:3-5. Who is Paul describing? What does he tell us about them?

Scriptural Insight: The Law (1 Timothy 1:7-8) refers to the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, written by Moses, also called the Pentateuch.

2. Read Romans 1:21-22 and Titus 1:10-11. What do these passages add to what you learn from 1 Timothy 1:7?

3. Read 1 Timothy 1:8-11. In contrast to false teaching, Paul affirmed the right use of the law. What is it? (See also Galatians 3:19, 24, Romans 7:4-8; 12; 8:1-4)

Think About It: “The law is like a mirror – it can show you that there is a problem, but it can’t provide a solution.” (Tim Stevenson, sermon July 18, 1999)

4. For whom is the Law intended, according to verses 1 Timothy 1:9-10?

5. Read Exodus 20:3-17. Compare Paul’s list of examples in 1 Timothy 1:9-10 to the Ten Commandments just read in Exodus. Why do you think this parallel is significant?             

6. Adorning Yourself: What is the proper use of the law for us today? How might we use it improperly? Is it still important (valid)? Why or why not?

Day Two Study

The word doctrine is a key word of the Pastoral Epistles. Twenty-three of its fifty occurrences in the New Testament are found in Paul’s writings, and of these twenty-three, seventeen are in the Pastoral Epistles. The word means “teaching.”

7. What does Paul mean by “sound teaching” (“sound doctrine”-NIV) in verse 10? See also 1 Timothy 6:3, Titus 1:9 and 2:1. Why is it so important to maintain sound doctrine and refute false teachings?

8. What is the connection between sound doctrine and godly living? Does one lead to the other? Why?

Think About It: “Moral collapse follows upon spiritual collapse.” (C. S. Lewis)

9. Adorning Yourself: What steps do you take to make sure your life is based on sound doctrine? In what ways does the teaching you have received encourage you towards godly living? What part does the will play in choosing to practice what you have learned?

10. What does Paul mean by “the glorious gospel of the blessed God”? (1 Timothy 1:11) Describe this “glorious gospel” in your own words.

Related Topics: Curriculum

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