2009-06-14 (am) 1 Timothy 6:11-16 Men of God
This morning, we’re listening in on Paul’s wisdom given to Timothy. It is one pastor writing to another. One leader of the church encouraging and equipping another. We’re focussing on this passage because in a sense, Paul is encouraging and equipping our new deacon, Jerry, and our new elder, Lewis. But before the rest of us tune out thinking, “Oh, it’s just for them,” we must know that Paul is also writing these words to all of us.
First, look at what he calls Timothy! “O man of God!” Put yourself in Timothy’s shoes. You’re working in a church, you’re working hard to follow Christ, you’re trying to do your best, but you’re a rather timid fellow. You don’t have very much confidence in your abilities.
Then, these super Christians come along. They’ve got the latest and greatest teaching. They’re market savvy. They’re from the best schools; they’ve trained under the best Biblical scholars around. They’re smooth and suave. They’ve got power point, video, outlines, guidelines, support lines and zip lines. And you, well, you’re just a farmer, a truss maker, a welder, a teacher, an oil worker, coal worker.
So, isn’t it interesting that Paul addresses Timothy saying, “O man of God.” This is one of the most powerful titles used in the Bible to describe a human. It referred to the truest, most powerful, most faithful of God’s servants—a true prophet, a prophet like Moses.
Moreover, Paul here isn’t just telling Timothy he’s a man of God, he’s Calling him a man of God. “Timothy, you man of God, you, I’ve got some important things to tell you. Listen up. This is vital. I’m going to tell you how to deal with those false teachers. Okay?”
Now before we get to Paul’s instructions, we have important thing to realise. How did Paul know to identify Timothy as a man of God? Was it because Timothy could do all the things the super apostles, the false teachers could do? Nope. Was it because he knew how Timothy was raised? Did Paul just know? Nope. Timothy’s identity isn’t based on who he is, or what he can do. It is based on who Christ is and what Christ has done.
Timothy is a man of God because, like Moses, the great man of God, he completely trusts in God. He is completely dependent upon God. He knows that God will win. He knows that the battle is the Lord’s. He knows that no matter what challenges he faces in ministry, God who will give him strength and wisdom and character. How does Paul know this? It is because God has blessed Timothy with the Holy Spirit.
Timothy is full of the Holy Spirit. Paul knows this. Paul has seen Timothy grow up spiritually over the years. He knows his character. He knows that Timothy serves Christ as Lord of his life. He knows that Timothy was trained in the faith. He knows that Timothy was baptised into the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
It is because of God’s activity in Timothy’s life, that Paul can definitively call him a man of God.
But what about us? The New Testament is clear, all who put their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, his atoning sacrifice on the cross, his given body and shed blood, know that they are new creations. They are born again. Those who trust in Christ alone become children of God. They all become men of God.
Have you put your trust in Christ? Have you accepted God’s grace? Have you professed your faith in Christ? Have you experienced the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you? Then yes, you too are a man of God, a woman of God, a child of God.
Lewis and Jerry, I don’t exactly know what you’re feeling or experiencing at the moment, but know this, you are men of God. The Holy Spirit is at work in your lives. He will lead you and guide you as you serve this congregation.
This is a good reminder for all of us on council. We might not always obey the Holy Spirit, but the promise was there for Timothy and it is here for us also.
But the second question we have not just as elders and deacons, or pastor, or members or baptised members is this, how do we live out our lives, how do we serve God? How can we be sure that we’re faithfully following Christ? How can we be sure that we’re not being like a false teacher? How do we as elders, deacons, as pastor, as members, as Christians, how do we keep ourselves in the truth?
In this passage, Paul teaches us that there are two actions of a Godly man or woman. Flee and follow. Paul tells Timothy that in order to deal with the false teachers, in order to guard his ministry, in order to be a good leader, he must flee these things.
Now, because we’re jumping in at verse 11, we don’t know what these things are. Paul lists them for us in verses 3-10. I’ll quickly highlight them for us, Timothy, and not just Timothy, and not just Lewis and Jerry, all of us are to flee doctrine that is different from, that doesn’t agree with, the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, the teaching that is in agreement with godliness. We are to flee conceit. We are to avoid craving for controversy, quarrelling about word—for such quarrelling produces envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and depraved of the truth, imagining that godliness is the means of gain. Such people, in reality desire to be rich, not content. Thus, they fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is not the only root; it happens to be one that very easily leads to all kinds of evil.
I’ve just started reading a new John Grisham novel, the appeal. And the love of money clearly has led a man to all kinds of evil. I wish I could believe that it is only a novel, that people aren’t that evil, but I know my own heart, and I can easily see it is true.
We have to flee from teaching that is contrary to scripture. There’s a lot of stuff being thrown about these days within the Christian world that claims to be Christian. There’s a lot of extremely well-meaning folk who are trying to be effective communicators of the truth, but who are compromising truth in order to be relevant, or successful.
Then there are others who have bought into the idea that being a Christian can pad the bottom line. They think, “If I go to church, if I make good contacts with those people, I can get work from them, and I can increase my business because they’ll want to support one another. So that’s what they do, they come to church, and they have all the appearances of being a follower, but their life isn’t so consumed with Christ, but with getting the next job, getting the next contract, getting the next best thing that money can buy.
Now, I don’t know anybody like that here. I hope that no one here thinks that way. And more importantly, I hope I don’t think that way. I can tell you that there are a lot of temptations in ministry. It is easy to see this as just a job. It is easy to see this as a means to getting a paycheque. There have been all kinds of benefits here. In fact, I’ve taken the opportunity to make contacts here.
Actually, I have to spend some time really thinking this through. I might actually be guilty of some of the things that Paul is warning against. So, as you can see, I’m not just preaching this message out there, I’m preaching it to myself. And, honestly, if Paul were to call me a man of God, I’d probably object. But then I’d remember why he’s calling me that.
And that leads us to the second part of Paul’s instruction. It is not simply enough to flee. The church throughout history has been pretty good at warnings. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t dance, don’t gamble, don’t play soccer on Sunday afternoons, don’t steal etc. The church has tried to teach people to flee, and sometimes has overemphasised it.
And, it is true; such instructions are given with the desire for our own good. Drinking in excess can lead to poor judgement. It affects your reaction time. It clouds your ability to make wise decisions. Smoking is linked to poor health, cancer and the like.
Indeed all the commandments, the thou shall not’s are written for our protection. They’re given so that we will derive the greatest amount of joy in this life. But emphasising what we shouldn’t do isn’t enough. We have to emphasise what we should do.
This is like Psalm 1 “Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in e the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” You want to be happy? Don’t do what the wicked do. Oh sure, they pretend they’re happy, but the true happiness comes not from doing what they do, it comes from fleeing the ways of the wicked.
But did you notice that this Psalm is like our passage in Timothy? That it contains both a don’t do that but also a do this instead?
Those who are truly happy, says the Psalm 1 are those who meditate on the law day and night. In order to be truly happy, God has to be our primary focus in life.
God has one goal. His goal is to be glorified in his creation. The heavens declare the glory of the Lord. The creatures and the elders in heaven give glory to God on the throne. The Westminster Shorter Catechism’s first question asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
So finally, what’s thing we have to do after fleeing? We follow. We don’t just flee, we follow. This isn’t always so easily done, obviously, nor is it always so well emphasised in church, or in the home for that matter. It’s easier to say to a child, don’t do that. But it is harder to come up with ideas of what they should do instead.
I remember as a child saying, “I’m bored.” Now I get to hear that phrase. Are you a bored Christian? Are you tempted to do evil because you’re not finding godly things to do?
Paul says; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” How do you do that? Again, this is where Psalm 1 helps us. We do these things by meditating on the Law. Now, let’s be clear. The law is not limited to the Ten Commandments, though that’s a good place to start. The law includes all of scripture. We need to know God’s instruction for our lives. And he’s given it in his word!
So, we need to discipline ourselves into spending time reading God’s word. Use a devotional like the Today. Use a Bible reading plan. This is helped me immensely. I use the Today in the morning. I use a bible software program called Libronix to help me look at other translations, to look at the Greek or Hebrew texts, to identify different verbs and verb tenses. These programs are available for anyone. There’s e-sword available as a free download online. There are scriptures available online. There are Bible versions that are organised by a reading schedule. You can get Bibles organised chronologically, so you follow the events as they happened in history.
We also read the scriptures at supper time. Then, I read the scriptures again before I go to bed. An elder also has helped my prayer practise by suggesting that I kneel and pray beside the bed before climbing in. This helps focus me in praying, and I’ve discovered it is much harder to fall asleep while praying, in addition to that, he said, “Do you talk to your Dad while lying in bed? No? Then why would you talk to your Father in heaven that way?
So, following, involves doing. It’s not just fleeing sin, we have to follow righteousness. Righteousness is learned from the Bible. Righteousness is learned from other Christians. Righteousness is learned at church. Righteousness is being a person after God’s own heart. Your heart beats for God’s glory. You want to please God in everything you do.
This righteousness is seen in a godly life. If righteousness is a state of being, then godliness is the state of doing. This is how you act around other people. This is what gives glory to God.
Godliness is seen in doing your best at school, without complaining. Godliness is being a good employee, on time, or early for work, not complaining, sticking around to make sure the job is done, even without getting paid for it. Godliness is being an obedient child. Godliness is being a loving submissive wife. Godliness is being a loving sacrificial husband. Godliness is being a fair employer. Godliness is being honest to a fault, even if it means losing opportunities.
Godliness produces a beautiful aroma. People take notice of such things. After seeing this kind of behaviour, they will start to say, “Hey there’s something different about those people. They work really hard. They don’t complain at all. Those kids are so well behaved. That couple really loves each other. That guy is a pleasure to work for, that company is worth doing business with because they always pay on time, no matter what.
As men of God, as people of God, we flee from wicked temptations to do as the world does, and we choose to follow a higher standard. But we don’t just flee, we follow we run after righteousness and godliness.
Next week, we’re going to finish looking at this passage. There’s so much more that God’s Word has to tell us. Next week we’ll see why we can follow after God because of what we already have in Christ—eternal life. But we’ll also see why it doesn’t just happen as if by magic. If you look at the next verse, Paul uses a boxing metaphor, and it’s a good one. We have to fight the good fight.
Jerry and Lewis, council, congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, know that you are people of God. Live according to your identity in Christ. Begin your day with God’s word and prayer. Think about righteousness and godliness throughout the day as you make decisions. Choose to do that which will bring glory and honour to God. Amen!