The Call to True Servanthood – 1 Timothy 4:6-10

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Our passage for today is 1 Timothy 4:6-10


Our passage today can be dived into three segments

– The call for leaders to point out false teaching and the reward therein
– Importance of training in Godliness
– Reminding us the reason for our hard labor and striving i.e Christ himself

And all these 3 things are said and shared in the context of faithful servant hood, helping us understand what it means to be a true servant of Christ. It points out to us that a true servant of Christ is the one who refutes false teaching, trains himself in godliness and treasures Jesus above everything else.

Is Paul talking only to the leaders who serve in the church or is he talking to the whole congregation. Are these instructions applicable only to leaders or is it applicable to everyone.
In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter writes “But you all are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Serving Christ and serving one another is a call of every believer. And therefore these instructions given in 1 Timothy 4:6-10 is applicable to every believer. Every believer is supposed to refute false teaching, train themselves for godliness and treasure Jesus above everything else.

The verse starts by Paul writing “If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters…”

Paul is obviously talking with respect to his earlier comments on refraining from false teaching and deceitful spirits that take your attention away from the true gospel of Jesus.

False teaching always finds its way through the present cultural myths, ideas and thought patterns. In the days of the apostles there were five such false doctrines.

1. False doctrine of Jewish Legalism

Where they were asked to add circumcision to their faith in Acts 15:1. In Galations 1:6-9 Paul strongly condemns these teaching. In Philippians 3:2 he calls the false teachers dogs and evil doers. We did speak about it in length in our previous sermons.

2. False teaching of Gnosticism

In Gnosticism people regarded their special knowledge and enlightenment as superior to the faith of others. In 1 Timothy 6:20-21 Paul warns Timothy saying “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.”

In 2 Timothy 2:14-16 Pauls tells Timothy to warn others saying

[14] Remind them of these things, and charge them before God[a] not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. [15] Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,[b] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. [16] But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

3. False doctrine was Asceticism

Which Jinson mentioned last Sunday. They believed and taught that sin is inherent in the material substance of the body, and therefore the body must be punished by practicing extreme self-denial and self-abuse. The one that is prevalent even in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Paul talks against this doctrine in Colossians 2:18-23.

[18] Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,[a] puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, [19] and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

[20] If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— [21] “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” [22] (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? [23] These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

We also heard about it in the previous passages where people were asked to refrain from getting married and even abstaining from foods which God created for God.

4. False doctrine of Antinomianism

Where the false teachers instructed others that they could participate in all kinds of sinful pleasures and still be spotless in their souls before God.

Paul spoke to such people in 2 Timothy 3:2-9. He called them “lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.”

In fact John makes it clear in 1 John 3:4-10 that a Christian cannot be one who continually abides in sin. A Christian must turn away from sin and continually strive to overcome it (see 1 John 1:7 about walking in the light). He said, “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God”

5. False Doctrine of Docetism (Do-see-tism)

Where these false teachers denied the true incarnation of Christ, they denied the fact that Jesus was truly a divine being and that he came to earth in flesh.

In 1 John 2:18 & v22-23 apostle John addresses it saying, “Even now many Antichrists have arisen.” He describes this false teaching in v22-23: “Who is a liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”

Even today in our generation we see glimpses of these doctrines but the one that is most prevalent is the health, wealthy and prosperity gospel. “Prosperity gospel” teaches that God wants every believer to be always physically healthy, materially wealthy, and personally happy. Teachers of the prosperity gospel encourage their followers to pray for and even demand material flourishing from God.

The one biggest folly of this kind of teaching is that it takes away our focus from the GIVER to the GIFT. Our cravings for wealth and worldly pleasures are an unending saga. Jesus said in Matt 19:24 “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

If we are talking about personal happiness Jesus said Matt 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

The disciples of Jesus did not live a prosperous life. In fact they were tortured, falsely accused, beaten and murdered.

Brothers and sisters, we are called to glorify God by treasuring Christ more than anything else in this life. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

God is glorified when we are fully satisfied in him regardless of our circumstances and pain. Even in times of pain and distress our hearts cry should be “Jesus you are still good” … awesome … wonderful … there is no one like you.

Here’s how we know we have fallen victim to the prosperity gospel. If our lifestyle is become such where we seek God only when we are in need, need for physical healing, need for material blessings. When we want God to heal us from a certain illness or when we need a job or want him to crack a business deal for us, when we completely fail to acknowledge him when everything is well with us, when we fail to treasure Christ and the gospel daily in our lives. When we stop looking to God and stop worshipping him when our prayers are left unanswered for many days.

We should know that we have become victim to such teachings.

False teaching always finds its way through the present cultural myths, ideas and thought patterns and therefore it is important that every Christian should be able to identify them, stay alert and should be able to protect their hearts and the hearts of their loved one from these teachings.

I believe in the following verses in 1 Timothy 4 Paul tells us how we can protect our hearts from these teachings.

Number one – 1 Timothy 4:6 (second half) By “being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed, Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths”

Number two – by “Training yourself for godliness”

You will only be able to protect your heart by consistently soaking yourself in God’s word having nothing to do with worldly wisdom and by training yourself for godliness by being obedience to His words.

Let me also warn you at this point that if you fail to guard your heart it is possible that you can be led away from your faith. In verse 1 Paul prophecies that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.

How does soaking in God’s word help us protect our heart?

God’s word gives us the right understanding and the right perspective on life. It teaches us that only Jesus is the true God, and that the answer to all our questions can only be found in the gospel, in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Every scripture presents Christ to us and consistently reminds us the truth of the gospel.

The darkness of false teaching around us can only be driven out when we switch on the light of right doctrinal truth of the scriptures.

It is not enough to just read the scripture and feel good about it. I remember when I was young I was asked to read the bible before leaving home. I did it every day but it meant nothing to me until one day I completely stopped reading.

But, Paul goes on to say that you need to train yourself for godliness. He says “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

How do we train ourselves for godliness?

We train ourselves for godliness by obeying God’s word.

Consistently obeying God’s word is the sign of a true believer. It doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes, it also doesn’t mean that we won’t sin again. Yes we will make mistakes, we will fall into sin. But we won’t be enslaved by them. We will always go back to God with a repentant heart, ask for his forgiveness and allow the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness.

We will treasure the truth that Jesus has forgiven all our sins and that we are not slaves to sin by slaves to righteousness.

Training for godliness means that our lives should be marked by a lifestyle of obedience to his commandments.

At this point you may ask why do we have to work so hard and labor and strive, instead why can’t we just enjoy life and the pleasure of the world?

Paul answers that question in 1 Timothy 4 verse 9-10

[9] The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. [10] For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Brothers and sister we ought to labor and strive and work out our salvation hoping for the reward in heaven which is Christ himself. Our life on earth is momentary but life in heaven is eternal and unending.

That is why Paul encourages all believers in Colossians 3:2 to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

How do we know that you are heading in the right direction and are not been misled? We will know it by our present action and lifestyle.

Do we love Gods word and find delight in it daily?

Do we labor and stirve by training ourself in godliness by obeying his words?

Do we treasure Christ and have set your hope in the heavenly things?

If not then I want to urge you today to repent before God and make a turn-around from your sinful ways and learn to delight in God’s word, train yourself for godliness and set your hearts on the things above.

Lets Pray.

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