“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.” (1 Timothy 6:20)
Note that there are contained here both positive and negative charges. Timothy, Paul’s son in the faith, is instructed to keep certain things and avoid others. The word “keep” is a military word which might better be translated “guard.” The word “avoid” implies more than merely refraining from contact. It has to do, instead, with actively and deliberately turning away from something.
Timothy is to guard that which has been committed into his care—by inference, something quite valuable—the complete gospel of Jesus Christ. “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost” (2 Timothy 1:13-14).
Paul knew, however, that in order to guard the truth, Timothy must actively avoid the false, and lists three specific potential pitfalls. The first is profane babbling, i.e., any of those conversations and arguments which are of a worldly, ungodly, unclean nature. Next, he is to avoid vain, empty, hollow arguments. Elsewhere, Paul teaches “shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16).
Lastly, he is to avoid the opposing arguments of false science, or knowledge. Human wisdom found to be contrary to the wisdom of God may be called knowledge by some, but if so, it is “falsely so called.” Even “some professing [Christians] have erred concerning the faith” (1 Timothy 6:21).
Paul closes with the benediction “Grace be with thee.” May we all enjoy God’s grace as we attempt to keep the true, avoid the false, and discern the difference.