- Sermon Notes
Persevere in These Things
1 Timothy 4:6-16
Timothy is in Ephesus leading the churches that came out of a great revival several years earlier. Paul can’t be there with Timothy, so he writes these letters, giving Timothy instruction to confront certain men that were teaching strange doctrines to keep the church out of the weeds and to keep the church growing spiritually.
Paul also instructs Timothy regarding the qualities of godly character to look for in those who would be leaders in the church. That list of godly qualities is a perfect definition of spiritual maturity that we should all desire.
In chapter 4, Paul writes words of instruction for Timothy personally. At this point, Timothy is still a young man, yet is given great responsibility, so Paul writes to give him godly wisdom for how to conduct his own life and to keep growing spiritually himself. Paul is his mentor and this part of the letter are words a mentor would say to his student.
These words for Timothy personally should also be applied to our lives personally. In many ways, Paul is like a mentor to us; by writing these letters, he has taken us under his wing also. Anyone wanting to grow spiritually should take these words to heart.
I. Be Spiritually Fit
- In these verses Paul makes the comparison between being physically fit and spiritually fit. The Greeks put major emphasis on the muscular development of the body and its form and balance.
- Paul doesn’t discourage anyone from being physically fit, after all, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and it’s certainly profitable to take care of our body physically.
A. Be constantly nourished
- Verse 6 – the key words being ‘constantly nourished.’ No one would think of eating one meal a week, our bodies need to be constantly nourished.
- The same is true spiritually, we need to be constantly nourished to grow spiritually.
Illus - That reminds me of a man who once said to his pastor, “You know, I don’t remember a lot of your sermons.” The pastor responded, “I don’t remember a lot of my wife’s meals either, but without them I sure wouldn’t be doing very well. And she sure is a good cook!”
- Scripture uses food as an illustration of spiritual nourishment in many places.
Jeremiah 15:16, Your words were found and I ate them; Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
Psalm 34:8, O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
- Another key is the word ‘nourished.’ In other words, there are a lot of things people put into their soul that don’t nourish them at all, in fact, there are many things that will poison the soul.
Illus - If my wife and I had to go away for a trip and left some money for our kids to buy groceries, what would they eat? As they grew in maturity and became adults, however, they understood that there are consequences to what you eat.
- “Be nourished on the words of the faith and of sound doctrine,” Paul wrote.
B. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness
- Verse 7 – Have nothing to do with worldly fables only fit for old women, Paul wrote. What an interesting contrast that is.
- It wasn’t that long ago that old wives’ tales was where people got their so-called wisdom for life. Of course in our modern day we’ve come to understand most old wives’ tales are fables.
Illus - Don’t eat before swimming, don’t handle a toad or you’ll get warts, don’t cross your eyes or they’ll get stuck that way, if you crave sweets when you’re pregnant, you’re having a girl (that one has about a 50% chance of being true).
But there were also old wives’ tales about spiritual things, about angels or demons or about what God thinks about this or that. Have nothing to do with these things, Paul wrote.
- Instead, Paul wrote, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. The word for ‘discipline’ has the same root from which we get the word gymnasium.
- The idea of disciplining yourself is connected to the purpose or goal you’re trying to accomplish.
- In other words, if you want to be skilled at golf, you have to play more than once a year.
Illus - I once had the opportunity to golf with Bob Gilder, a professional on the seniors’ tour. He said that he had to hit at least 18 holes of golf every day not including exercise and focused practice. On one particular hole I hit a beautiful shot right down the center of the fairway and said, “Do you think I could become a professional?” “Don’t quit your day job,” he said.
- You discipline or train yourself because you’re trying to accomplish a goal or purpose in your life.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27, Therefore I run in such a way as not without aim; I box in such a way as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Illus - When I was a student at OSU, I used to do powerlifting 1 ½ hours a day, six days a week. I had a plan and a goal and trained hard, but the results were physical. Meanwhile, I was tanking spiritually. Imagine if I had put that same focused effort into things that were spiritual.
That came later when I became a student at Multnomah University and was pursuing the goal of becoming a pastor and teaching God’s word.
- Actually, you can pursue both at the same time! I love listening to worship while running or working out.
- Bodily discipline is only of little profit, Paul wrote, but godliness is profitable for all things because it holds promise for this life and for the life to come.
- The key is the discipline and training part. How many people start out well with their exercise and diet plan only to give it up? Imagine the results if we had stayed with it. Imagine the results spiritually, if we keep pressing on toward godliness.
II. May Your Progress be Evident
- Verse 15 – Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all.
- The purpose of godliness and spiritual change is that it makes a difference in your life.
- In other words, godliness is not just a spiritual condition, it makes a difference in how you live. If you’re growing spiritually, it will be evident because you’re more patient, more kind, more gentle, more servant hearted, more loving, and on and on.
A. Be an example of those who believe
- Verse 12 – let no one look down on your youthfulness, Paul wrote. Timothy had a tremendous responsibility of overseeing churches that were led by much older men and so his youthfulness was a disadvantage; people would look down on him.
- But if they look at your life and see your spiritual maturity and that you are an example of those who believe, they will see your spiritual maturity rather than your youthfulness.
- But notice that the example of godliness is seen in your speech, your conduct, your love, your faith, and your purity. These are real, tangible things.
James 1:26, If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.
Ephesians 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.
- Notice that spiritual maturity has a direct impact on your relationship to others. If you love God, it will change how you treat the people around you.
- And they will also see your conduct, your faith, your love, and your purity. All these things become an example of what it means to be a believer.
B. Faith comes by hearing
- Verse 13 – give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
Illus - When Israel entered the holy land after being in the desert those 40 years, they were to gather the nation together every seven years and have the word of God read over them.
- Here at Calvary Chapel, we do the same thing. It’s not read all at one time, but week by week the entire word of God is read.
- This is because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” Paul wrote.
- God sent forth His word with power to transform lives. It’s not just pages of a book, it’s empowered by God Himself.
Hebrews 4:12, The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
- In other words, something supernatural takes place when the word of God is being taught. God speaks through His word by the Holy Spirit and applies it to your life. That’s how we are transformed.
Illus - Sometimes after message someone will say, “Thank you for the message, it felt like you were speaking directly to me.” I love to respond, “Actually, I was… your wife called me this week.”
- Of course I’m joking, but the Holy Spirit does take God’s word and specifically presses it into our lives just where we need it so that we are challenged in those areas that God wants to touch.
C. Be absorbed with these things
- Verses 15-16 - Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself; persevere in these things, Paul wrote.
- Those are strong words. This is a call to be more than just a casual observer, it’s a call for us to be committed to pursuing deeper spiritual things.
- Many people, when they come to faith in Christ, they often come for what they can receive. They want the peace, the hope, the life, the satisfied soul, the favor of God poured out on their lives.
- But as we mature spiritually, we need to come to realize that church is not just a place to go and be blessed.
Illus - For our 25th anniversary, my wife and I saved up so we could take a cruise to Alaska. Man, talk about indulgence. The food was over the top, our room cleaned daily with little chocolate mints on our pillow, staff ready to serve our every whim. But when we got back home, what a culture shock; who’s going to cater to us now?
- Some people have developed a cruise ship Christianity. They want to be catered to; they’ll even change cruise ships according to who has the best accommodations, which one serves the best food; who has the best entertainment.
- Pay close attention to yourself, Paul wrote, persevere in these things, so that you can be a blessing to others, and in the process, you’ll also be blessed.
Luke 9:24, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will find it.”
- Church is a place to develop and mature your gifts and then use them to serve others. Prayer is not just about getting something you want, but discovering God’s will and then living accordingly.
- As you mature, you move from receiving blessings to becoming a blessor; from being served to serving, to partaking in Him and Him alone.
1 Timothy 4:6-16 NASB
6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.