When I was a child, the adults use to talk to us often about our behavior in church. There were certain things that you could not do that seemed written in stone. There was a proper way to act in church, stated as firmly and consistently as if from the Old Testament. You didn’t chew gum in church. You didn’t run. It was not proper to play or talk in church. It was frowned upon to walk during the invitation. Ushers would literally frown at you if you did so. These rules were drilled into us, sometimes painfully, so that we would know how to conduct ourselves in church.
Surprisingly, the Apostle Paul was also concerned with how we ought to act in church. Not surprisingly, however, he does not mention any of the things I was often told. In his letter to Timothy, whom he left to pastor the church at Ephesus, he states plaining that his purpose for writing was so that Timothy would know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God. Also, in order bring gravity and perspective, Paul adds that the church of the Living God is the pillar and support of the truth. It’s as if what the church is and who it belongs to would have much to do with how one ought to conduct oneself.
In the opening chapter he urges Timothy to instruct certain men not to teach different doctrines. He considered correct teaching essential and proper church conduct. In the household of God there should be but one doctrine; that which was handed down to the church through the Apostles.
These different doctrines, however, took the familiar form of ethical teaching arising from mythical stories passed down through endless generations as truth. Unlike the doctrine of the church which leads to faith and love, these different doctrines led to mere speculation and fruitless discussions.
When someone walks into the household of God, the pillar and support of the truth, they should hear a trustworthy message that deserves full acceptance. They should hear that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and not that He came to call the righteous to a higher standard of ethical behavior. That, Paul says, is an unlawful use of the Law. They should hear that even the violent aggressors and foremost of sinners, like Paul, can find the grace of the Lord more than abundant with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. They should not have to hear the myths of men which amount to speculative ramblings about the ethical standards of the law.
Unlike so many who were concerned about what children were saying in the pews, Paul finds it more necessary to be concerned about what teachers were saying in the pulpit. How to act in church has more to do with the sermon than with chewing gum. The ushers should frown upon any teaching that would suggest that salvation is the result of anyone’s walk, or that our walk in any way contributes to our salvation. We should know how to conduct ourselves in the household of God. We should be examples of Jesus’ perfect patience for all those who would believe in Him for eternal life. We should not simply lift up a standard of righteousness, but lift up the one from whom we have received our righteousness.