But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
In a meeting today I was reminded of this verse. Paul distinguishes his doctrine from the false teachers because it produces love. The genuine gospel that Paul preached was the basis for a life of love. A gospel changed person loves with a “pure heart” (a heart cleansed from sin), a “good conscience” (a conscience clear from guilt), and a “sincere faith” (a life free from hypocrisy and insincerity).
For me the application is twofold:
1. Is my love based on the gospel that through the work of Christ I have been freed from sin (Rom. 6), declared righteous, and given the gift of a new heart? Because of what Christ has done for me I am able to love appropriately in return.
2. The result of good doctrine is obedience to Christ (Jn. 14:23), not merely theological information. The temptation, sometimes, is for there to be a “hiatus between the arena of the… theologian’s actual spiritual growth and what he already knows intellectually about this arena” (Thielicke). Are my actions consistent with what I know about God and the gospel?