1 Timothy 1:6,7 Certain persons . . . have wandered away into vain discussion . . . without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
In medical school, I learned the phrase, Often wrong, never in doubt, used to describe the incompetent person who is paradoxically, supremely confident. Though this person often errs in his (or her) performance, he maintains complete confidence in his ability. Maddening to work with, this individual’s ego is shielded by false self-assurance, as he has zero insight into his own defects and failures.
This seems to be the type of person Paul was describing in today’s passage. There were apparently those in Timothy’s church who were leading Christians astray with meaningless myths and vain discussions. They wanted to be seen as the religious elite but they had no idea what they were talking about as they were not living in faith. Lacking spiritually maturity, they saw knowledge as a route to achieving the status they desired.
I have done this with equally poor results. Studying Christianity and living Christianity are two very different things. Reading book after book in an attempt to build a library of knowledge did not make me more like Christ. It just made me more argumentative and arrogant (and not much smarter).
Knowledge and right doctrine are necessary steps in knowing God, but they are not the end. Knowledge does not automatically lead to right behavior or faith. I can know right and still do wrong. Knowing right is only step one in faith. Step two is acting in a manner consistent with my belief. Knowledge of God is necessary for faith, but knowledge alone is not faith until I put it into action and follow Him.
It is in our pride that we gather knowledge and consider that to be spiritual growth. It does not take a genius IQ or a doctrinal degree to be a disciple. It takes a child-like faith to say I believe and I will follow.