1Timothy 6.11-21 Fight the good Fight

July 18, 2010 Series: 1 Timothy

Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 Timothy 6:11–6:21

1Timothy 6.11-21_Fight

July 18, 2010

Sam Ford

 

Final Charge to Timothy 

We have spent the last 13 weeks in the letter to 1st Timothy—a letter to church leadership about church leadership.  Though Paul wrote letters to many churches, this is the first of three letters written directly to young pastors—this one to a 30 year old guy named Timothy in the port city ofEphesus.  History tells us that Mary, Jesus’ mom, may have died there as well as Jesus best friend John.  It was a big city for trade, learning, athletics, religion, especially pagan worship at the 127 columnedTemple of Artemis, one of the 7 wonders of the world—now little more than a pillar in a swamp. 

 

Paul spent several years in Ephesus, planted a church and installed elders.  Before he left, he warned these elders to Shepherd the church, care for the sheep, lead the sheep clean water, AND protect it from WOLVES that will rise up kill the flock from within.  WHEN THEY FAILED to do this, when one or two discontent wolf-elders started teaching bad doctrine, the other elders who had as much backbone as a jellyfish, did nothing.  But Paul loved the church.  And so he sent his right hand man, a man he describes as his Son in the faith, 30 year old Timothy, to shoot the wolves and reestablish strong leadership.   And, as we have spent time with Timothy through Paul’s words, we’ve learned that Timothy was not teeming with confidence.  He is young, inexperienced, and untested; he’s struggling with feelings of inadequacy; he’s dealing with disrespect by those he’s leading; and he’s so stressed out by the difficulty of the task it’s making him sick to his stomach. As is Paul’s style, he lays out some bold charges essentially telling Timothy to MAN UP and LEAD believing that Timothy is EQUIPPED and CALLED by God.  The entire letter teaches all of us that difficulty, fear, doubt, criticism, resistance, even personal cost is never an excuse not to lead or take a stand for the truth. 

 

Last words for a First Church

And it’s easy for most of us that Read 1st Timothy, or some guy preach on it for 13 weeks, to distance ourselves from Paul’s commands to Timothy believing he’s ONLY talking to us about how to judge leaders and churches; how to find a “good” church with a “good” pastor and “good” teaching.  The commands to lead this way can’t possibly apply to me—I’m not a pastor—I’m not leading a church, I don’t preach to anyone, I’m just a sheep NOT a shepherd! 

 

I don’t think Timothy was ready to pastor.  But there came a point where he couldn’t be dependent upon Paul for everything.  He had to grow up at some point, take responsibility, and lead.  And often times if we wait until we feel “ready”, we never will.  We all need a little pastoring, but hopefully it is a pastor who pushes you into the fight instead of fighting for you forever.  The pastor cannot be your only source of food once a week, you’ll starve.  The pastor cannot be there to rebuke you into obedience every time you want to pursue your sin.  The Pastor can’t help you make every hard decision for you. The pastor can pastor you, but he cannot pastor YOUR FIRST CHURCH. At some point, you have to grow up.  There are battles that no one else can fight for you, but that MUST be fought.  You are charged to train for godliness.  You are charged to protect those in your care.  You are charged to learn and teach truth.  You are charged to set and example and lead. You are charged to PASTOR yourFIRSTCHURCH.  And before you can lead, protect, or pastor anyone else’s heart, you have to pastor your own.  And if you don’t your church is vulnerable. 

 

Paul ends his letter to Timothy with some encouragement—not about how to lead others, but how to fight in his own life.  And my desire is that YOU will be encouraged TO stop making excuses for not fighting, to stop pretending the  shadow boxing your doing is real fighting; to stop wasting your time waiting to feel like fighting; to stop depending on others to fight for you –and start fighting to know the Lord with the same passion and discipline that you once used to run from him.  READ 1st TIMOTHY 6.11-21

 

V. 11-12 11 But as for you, O man of God, FLEE these things. PURSUE righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 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.

 

But as for you, O Man of God

Paul begins by contrasting Timothy’s pursuit with those of the false teachers saying, “BUT AS FOR YOU.”  Those guys loved the things of the world.  And many of them probably appeared “happy” and “successful”.  When we’re charged to live a godly way, “to do the easier right over the harder wrong”, we’re tempted to compare ourselves with those who are taking the “easy way”, the ungodly way, and yet everyone loves them and they have everything you thin you want.  Discontentment always begins when we take our eyes off of Jesus as our delight and begin to see the “fruit” as delightful, we actually begin to believe that COMPROMISE will make us happier.  We are not to concern ourselves with what men approve, what the world says is successful, with what culture praises or criticizes.  We are to concern ourselves only with what is biblical—with what God has commanded, not only because it is MOST satisfying, but because God commanded itTo do or think otherwise is to behave like an immature juvenile.  Paul uses an Old Testament title of honor, “O MAN OF GOD”, a title used of leaders of Israel such as Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, etc.  And while we might say Paul uses it because Timothy’s a pastor, I see it as saying, “O CHRISTIAN.”  You concern yourself with doing what is right in God’s eyes, with God’s will, not theirs, his, hers, or yours.

 

Flee and Pursue (FIGHT and FLIGHT)

And what is God’s will?  1Thessalonians 4.3a  3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification.  What is sanctification?  Our sanctification is the lifelong work of God and man that makes us more and more free of sin and more like Christ in our lives.[i] The Bible says that the only thing we contribute to our salvation is sin.  Then, when Jesus opens our eyes and saves us, His Spirit is sent to help us fight to live more like Jesus.  Repentance, or turning from your sin, is not just a one time thing you do at the altar, repentance is a lifelong process of idol killing.  After 5 ½ chapters of instructions for others, Paul reminds Timothy that he cannot fight for his church (your relationship, your family, your job) if he is not waging war against his own flesh.  Paul says to RUN AWAY and RUN TOWARD….

 

  1. RUNNING AWAY (FLEE):  We are not just to RUN away from everything.  As Paul had charged Timothy, we do not run from hard things, we do not run from conflict, we do not run from difficult decisions, we do run away from evil.  We resist temptation and we run from sin.  Hebrews 12.1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

 

  1. RUNNING TO (PURSUIT) Paul also says that as we run away, we have to run TO something.  It’s like feasting.  It’s not that we stop eating all together, WE HAVE TO EAT or we die.  It’s that we start eating and feasting on Jesus.  Like eaters we’re all runners—some faster than others.  We are to run, just not after anything.  Typically, we run after pleasure, fame, power, success, comfort, etc.  We are to turn toward Jesus, to pursue Jesus, to RUN after Jesus—not just crawl, mosey, or skip.  

 

It’s a Marathon to take Hold

And many start this “pursuit of godliness” with all kinds of passion only to drop out after one lap.  A guy hears a convicting sermon and the excitement about change lasts a half-hour.  Sometimes, excited, we start our “run”, our “race”, believing it’s a sprint and don’t realize that it’s a marathon.  Paul tells Timothy to FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.  The word for fight here carries the meaning of an athletic contest more than it does a battle.  One scholar said it could be read, “Enter the great contest of faith”.  The most important event in ancient contests was the long distance race (Marathon26.2 miles, 2 hours 3 minutes and 59 seconds, 4.44 per mile).  One of my goals in life is to NEVER run a marathon.  But isn’t this is how we approach our spirituality?  Paul charges Timothy, less as a leader here, and more as a Christian—a man of God—who is to compete in such a way as to TAKE HOLD of eternal life for which he has made the confession.  Though Paul’s theology is clear that Jesus saves people, yet, he gives a picture of ACTIVE PARTICIPATION in the purity our Christian life now—TAKING SOMETHING, FIGHTING, COMPETING, STRETCHING OURSELVES TO BE MORE until the day in eternity when stand before Jesus and say, I didn’t waste a minute, I worked hard, I spent ALL that you gave me, I left it all on the field…because of how you emptied yourself for me as THE player coach.

 

If you’re not a Christian, you’re not a runner.  Why train for godliness?  Why sacrifice?  Why deny your self anything.  BUT…if you have confessed to being a Christian, you are in a marathon!  Some of you have the puffy headbands, the cool running shorts, the shoes, but you’re barely moving and you know your out of shape [IRONMAN RACES – 79 year old athletes, paraplegics, stroke victims] Spiritually, a lot of us get winded walking up stairsSome of us are trying to find short cuts through the woods.  Others run, stop, walk, run, rest, or spend all of our time watching other runners.  Are you even competing?  How far are you around the track?  How much MORE do you know and enjoy your God compared to a year ago? I wonder how many of us are so confident about being in the race (I prayed the prayer), when we get down to the end, we find out we weren’t even registered.  It’s not that Christians should be running, it’s that Christians run.   

 

V. 13-15 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

 

Final Charge

Paul’s final charge is his STRONGEST.  Up to this point, Paul’s CHARGES have been instructive about dealing with an unhealthy church/church people and how to restore it to health with good leadership—here Paul wants Timothy to be serious about his own repentance.  First, Paul says I CHARGE you in the PRESENCE of GOD, who gives life to all things.  In other words, your life is not yours to do with what you please…God chose to give you life, physically AND spiritually.  Second, he CHARGES in the presence of Jesus who made the same “good confession”.  And what is the CONFESSION?  John 18.36-37 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” The confess is that Jesus is KING.  And what did our King do next, he died, he gave everything away, he poured out all that he had, that we might live YES, but more so that he might PROTECT his perfect justice, love, grace, mercy, and holiness.  And Paul charges us to keep the all the doctrine that accords with the gospel unstained by LIVING for the holiness JESUS died to protect.

 

Doxology

And as Paul charges, he cannot help but burst out into praise about God’s worthiness!  This is the 2nd time this happened in the letter, the first when he meditated on the grace that God had shown him as a sinner.  Our failure to fight to know God is rooted in lies that He isn’t worth knowing, that something else is more beautiful, and more satisfying, that the King isn’t worthy following, that the King isn’t in control:  The truth is—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.  

 

V. 17-19 And he closes the letter speaking to those people who probably have the hardest time seeing and savoring King Jesus as the most precious of all things—because they have so many “precious” things in this world and live like Kings:  17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.   Jesus talked about the money and wealth more than anyone else.  He was the one who said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter thekingdom ofGod—that you cannot serve both God and money. 

 

There are a lot of false teachers, a lot of people who confess with their mouths that Jesus is King, who love their neighbors and keep the commandments, who even serve the church BUT who…like Judas…will go to HELL holding the money bag.  Paul’s charge to the rich is a warning for everyone about fighting to “actively” SET YOUR HOPE on God, to TAKE HOLD of TRUE LIFE, in your own heart AND in the hearts of the FIRST CHURCH you lead, teach them as you teach yourself to t:

 

Fight against Hope on Earth

Fight against Hope in Heaven

Fight against pleasure that sin can get us

Fight for Joy in what God gives us

Fight against working for selfish gain

Fight for works of generosity

Fight against storing up stuff

Fight for Simplicity of lifestyle to share stuff

Fight against coveting what you don’t have

Fight for Contentment with what you do/have

Fight against Living for the Moment

Fight for Living Eternally

 

V. 20 And we fight not because Jesus will be more pleased with us, but because the King is already pleased with those he has saved.  And we have the King’s Honor to uphold:  20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.

 

Paul closes his first letter to his young pastor with encouragement.  Just as he reminds Timothy, that the truth is a DEPOSIT entrusted to you, I also REMIND YOU.  If Jesus has saved you, opened your eyes to the truth, he expects you to treat his life-giving Word like a precious treasure to be guarded and cared for, to be known and proclaimed.  As pastor of your own heart, as pastor of your FIRST CHURCH, as a part of Damascus Road, for all health and joy, PERSEVERE in PROTECTING the truthfulness of sound doctrine and the gospel of Jesus.  It is something that is easily compromised, easily perverted, and easily denied through your words, but perhaps more often through our actions.  And even if you have failed to view the truth that way, it is never too late to start fighting, never too late to start running, never too late to start preaching and pastoring your first church.  Paul’s last words to Timothy is GRACE—favor. Grace isn’t saying, ok Timothy, too hard, come home.  Grace isn’t saying COME ON you can do it, you have it in you.  Grace is saying, Jesus will do it through you.  That is GRACE. 

 

BENEDICTION – TITUS 3.3-8

Titus 3.3-8  3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

 

 


[i]Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.Leicester,England;Grand Rapids,Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994, S. 1253