1 Timothy: Fight the Good Fight
· Open with me to as we prepare to finish out, today, our journey through Paul’s first letter to Timothy. We have seen Paul address false teachers, importance of prayer, instructions regarding leaders in the church, instructions regarding widows and elders, instructions to slaves and masters. He has warned us about the dangers of materialism.
· During our lesson, today, we will see Paul’s final instructions to Timothy, where he revisits some ideas that he has already discussed within the epistle, making sure that Timothy knows exactly what he needs to do if he is going to be prepared to do his work in Ephesus.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT
· In our scripture reading, there is one main idea that Paul gives us regarding the work that Timothy must do in Ephesus as an evangelist, but also the work that he must do in continuing to build his character. He tells Timothy in verse 12 to, “Fight the good fight of the faith.” This really sums up everything that Paul will charge Timothy with in this section.
· Once again, this is the same language he used back in chapter 1 when he tells Timothy to “wage the good warfare.” This idea of fighting in this war by dealing with error and by building his own faith & character begin and end this book.
· As we go through this lesson, we are looking at the things Timothy must do if he wants to “fight the good fight of the faith”.
FLEE THESE THINGS
· The first thing Timothy is instructed to do in v11 is to flee some specific things… This sounds odd… Usually good fighters don’t retreat from a fight… But sometimes running is the best way to fight for your life. If I meet a 300-pound strong man in the street who wants to demolish me, hand-to-hand combat is not going to be the best strategy to fight for my life. Running is going to be the best strategy to fight for my life. So, Paul says, “Run from these things.”
· but as a good soldier of Christ, this is necessary at times… We must retreat away from those things that can lead us away from God and from doing good.
· Paul tells Timothy to “flee these things.” What are “these things” that Paul is talking about? It seems that Paul is talking about the dangers that he spoke of in verses 3-10. Things that we spoke about in our last lesson, so I won’t go into detail again…
o Doctrinal error and pride associated with it – No matter how appealing a doctrine may be, if it does not agree with the sound doctrine that comes from Jesus and His apostles, it is something that we must flee from. Believing and teaching error is dangerous to our souls… and it places someone other than Christ into authority over us…
§ Paul speaks again about dealing with false doctrine in verses 20-21. The final command that Paul gives Timothy is to guard what has been entrusted to him. He has been given a treasure by God – the truth of the Gospel.
§ This right here is the essence of the fight of faith. We fight to be faithful to the gospel. We have seen this all throughout this letter from all the way here to . It’s been a constant stream throughout. Paul has said, “Don’t teach any different doctrines. Hold on to the faith. Appoint elders who teach this Word. Train yourself in the words of the faith. Devote yourself to the public reading of this Word. Watch your teaching closely. Teach these things. Fight the good fight of faith, holding on to faith.”
§ Paul shows in this book that souls are on the line! False teaching leads Christians to stray from the faith. To prevent this, Paul tells Timothy, an evangelist, to avoid getting caught up in the debates – flee it! Timothy surely was not immune from false teaching… and neither are we! We need to hold tightly onto the truth… guard it like a treasure, so we do not stray from it…
o Unfruitful disputes over words – if you know that entering a discussion or debate will not be helpful to them or others, but will instead bring strife, envy, evil suspicions, etc… then it would be wise to stay away from them. Our goal as Christians is to be fruitful in what we say and to edify others… Some debates or arguments are just not “hills worth dying on…” whether it is with a brother or someone in error… These are battles not worth fighting…
o The love of money and covetousness – Timothy needs to make sure that his mind is right regarding wealth. His mind needed to look at his work in a way that honored God. Ultimately, he was doing the work of an evangelist because he wanted to help souls know Christ and His will. A mindset that wants more and more money can distract one from teaching the truth…
· These are the things Timothy needed to flee from to fight the good fight of faith… Flee these things that pull you away from God… Run
PURSUE THESE THINGS
· Then Paul instructs Timothy to pursue other things, things that will help him in his fight… “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”
· he gives Timothy a list of six different things to pursue:
o Righteousness - Run after righteous thinking and living. Right thinking; right living.
o Godliness – Run after God-like behavior and thinking
o Faith - Pursue deeper trust in God. We fight the fight of faith by running after faith. Amidst the struggle and the war going on in and around you, grow in faith.
o Love - Pursue love, and not just toward God, but also from that toward others. To love your husband, to love your wife, to love your neighbor, your enemy, your coworker. Greater affection for God.
o Perseverance - Pursue endurance amidst difficult circumstances. Learn to press on even when it gets harder, even when it seems like the end is farther away. Don’t give up.
o Gentleness - This is strange. Fight the good fight with gentleness. How do you fight gently? There’s strength here, but there’s a different kind of strength; this is a humble strength. It doesn’t come out in harsh, hurtful tones but in kind, gentle demeanor. Even toward those who, maybe, are a part of or causing some of the spiritual struggle around you.
OUR MOTIVATION READ 12-16
· Then, in verses 12-16, Paul gives us motivation to flee the things that lead us to stry from God and to pursue the things that help us get closer to Him: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
· The calling to Eternal life (v12) – lay hold of eternal life… This is what Christ is calling us to… We do in a sense have eternal life now, but not in it’s fullness… we still have these dying bodies that suffer the effects of sin, and we are still in this struggle against sin every day. But there’s coming a day in the future when we will experience fully and completely, free of sin, the life that Christ has bought for us. There’s coming a day when the spiritual battles of this world will be over, but until that day, it is a day-to-day struggle, battle, to experience the life that Christ has bought for us.
· Timothy’s confession – Timothy made a confession before many witnesses… He confessed Jesus as the Son of God. He confessed Him as his King and his Lord. He belongs to Him now as a man of God (v11).
· God’s presence – live in light of God’s presence. Paul says, “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things...” Think about it, as you fight this battle, God, who is your life, is with you! You fight in, with the presence of God, the Creator of all things, the Sustainer of all things. He’s the one who is with you, and He is for you!
o Vs15-16 “he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
o This is the God who the battle really belongs to… the God who is fighting for you!
· The appearing of Christ – The Savior who died for you is also the King who is coming for you. We fight the fight of faith with our eyes fixed on the sky, looking, longing for the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. We flee evil. We pursue goodness. Knowing, trusting, anticipating that He could come back at any time, and He will come back at some time. When He comes back, at that moment, we don’t want to be found playing around with the things that He has freed us from. He’s coming back for the faithful, not the faithless.
· Earlier in when he said, “There is great gain in godliness with contentment.” In God, you have gain! You have great gain in God! You have eternal life that you are called to… You have God’s presence… You have Jesus as Lord, and Jesus will return to bless His people…
· All of these things are reasons why we, as Christians in the good fight of faith, need to flee the things that draw us away from God and to pursue the things that can bring us nearer to God so we can fight the good fight…