Chapter 4 Disciplined Christian Living

1 Timothy 3:14-16; 4:4-12, 16

The purpose of this section is to encourage self-discipline in a day of laxity.

Leadership implies an exemplary life.
Anyone in a position of trust and responsibility will be looked at closely by others.
People in all walks of life tend to look up to those who are leaders.
They may do so out of a critical spirit or because they wish to emulate the exalted.
Words and actions are noted so that whatever kind of life is lived by the object becomes an example
either for good or bad.

There is nothing more potent than the power of example.
In social influence, educational instructions, political ambition, or a religious and spiritual aspiration,
the one who leads becomes an example to others.
Paul was certainly practical when he encouraged young Timothy to take care in his conduct
as the whole church would watch him in word and deed.

How To Behave -- 1 Timothy 3:14-16

After Paul had taught Timothy to have officers lead in the church, such as elders and deacons,
he continued to stress the need for high moral example.
There is a saying that a congregation does not rise higher than his pastor or leader.
This is something that pastor might well not like knowing his own frailties,
but it is true in the sense that people watch to follow the leader.

1. The imperative "ought."

Christian teaching is to be received and believed in faith.
The doctrines of the faith are most important for the Christian life.
Allied to doctrine is what one does.
Behavior issues from belief.
Christian ethics is linked with Christian doctrine.
The moral standards for Christian living are high.

Not only do these apply to every Christian, but they make more stringent demands upon a pastor.
The divine laws for life are not optional for the Christian “ they are categorical.
The leaders relationship to God, to his neighbor and society, and his duty to himself are intertwined
in this light.

It is this "ought" which has a binding authority upon the Christian.
Conscience reminds us constantly that we are not only free moral agents, but we are also
responsible individuals.

The emphasis on character throughout Paul's letter is most marked here.
The deacons and elders who "serve well" are men with strong ethical motives.
It was not enough that a man be orthodox in doctrine (verses 8-13) but that he must also be "proved."
This suggests testing and examination.

The blameless life of a leader was not taken for granted, and a novice was not to be elected.
The proven one, the one who had satisfactorily passed the new standing required,
was the one to be given honor as a leader.
A good moral life was expected from such.
Christian behavior is the way to convince the non-Christian that Christianity has in it a quality of life
and a power for living greater than anything else.
Injunctions to live cleanly, to be kind, to seek the good of others, and to demonstrate the new life
in Christ were some of the imperative demands made specially upon the leader.

2. In the house of God.

In the light of the pagan worship of that day with its magnificent temples of idolatry,
Christians were asked to conduct themselves in a new way.
Society had to see a new demand upon life and character and they witnessed the behavior of those
who were new creations in Christ.

Pastors and leaders of congregations were specially marked people.
The behavior in the house of God could refer to what went on during a time of meeting and worship.
Perhaps that is what Paul implied.
But as Christians did not meet in buildings like the heathen temples it seemed preferable
to see in this reference the thought of the "household" of God; not the building,
but the gathering of the people, whether in home or in the open air.
How did the leader conduct himself among his congregation -- that is the question.

According to Paul the house or household of God is "the pillar and ground (stay) of the truth."
In contrast to the great temple of the Ephesians was the insignificant meetinghouse
of the early Christians.
The physical and material structure of one of the seven wonders of the world would seem to be
more enduring than the tiny group of Christians who met in houses.

Yet the vast building of Diana of the Ephesians has crumbled into ruin and is forgotten,
whereas the Christian church composed of redeemed people endures throughout all ages.
The spiritual and moral strength of the followers of Christ became the bulwark of the church.

Our Lord told his first followers "fear not, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
In that prophetic word he addressed them as "little flock."
What a contrast between the might of Rome in the pomp of heathen religions!
Today the "little flock" has increased to include "other sheep" which Christ the Shepherd
has brought into the one flock out of many folds.

The foundation of the building of God is laid on the divine revelation in Christ.
"The church of the living God" tells of the one body that has endured the ravages of time.
Any leader of that body would of necessity be circumspect and consistent in life to display his faith.
Character and conduct were wedded to creed.
It is significant that Paul next bursts out in lyrical words of faith.

3. In your faith.

To belong to the household of God meant that in fellowship and communion a Christians did not stand alone.
He was part of a great company.
Numerically never large, they were morally strong and spiritually empowered to serve God.
What then was this faith which supported them?

Paul expounds this in a rhapsody of song as he thinks of the Saviour and Lord worshiped.
The "mystery of godliness" is a great and precious truth known on to those who have entered
into the Christian faith.
The initiation links all believers in one dynamic confession of the truth.
This is the basic mystery or secret of our "religion."

At the heart is the revelation of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into the world to redeem
and save a lost creation.
Six items of the confession are given.
The sentences remind us that possibly this was part of an early Christian hymn or song of praise.
It suggests a summary like an early creed to be believed and recited.

Pliny, the governor of Bythina, in sending his annual report to the Emperor Trajan at Rome tells
of the Christians in his province gathering at daybreak to sing hymns to Christus, their Saviour as God.
This early creedal confession to be sung centers in the living Christ who had died for sinners,
but was now alive from the dead.
Not every detail of that life of lives of is given, only that which is sufficient to instruct new disciples.
Out of this faith comes behavior and dedicated living.
The very personal aspect of our Lord's life and ministry is given.

(1) Manifested in the flesh reminds us of Christ's preexistence and His coming into our human life as a man.
His entire life from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, from birth to death, is encompassed here.

(2) Justified in the Spirit tells of the victory of our Lord over death and sin.
Spirit is over against flesh, and would indicate the vindication of God for Jesus' sacrifice and act of redemption.

(3) Seen of angels brings out the reality of the Resurrection life in which Christ was seen
by different individuals and groups.
He appeared to angels during those 40 days of manifestation.

(4) Preached among the nations announces the fact that the Gospel reached out to all peoples.
Both the Jew and Gentile the message was given by our Lord's missionaries.

(5) Believed on in the world indicates the response to the Christian message.
Some there are who do not believe, but there are believers out of every nation and they become part
of the church.

(6) Received up in glory testifies to the exultation of our Lord by the Ascension.
That was the completion of His earthly work.
Now in glory He has been vindicated by God for eternal ministry.

These statements constitute a creedal confession perhaps song in praise to God and as testimony
before men.
By his faith Timothy expressed his belief, and also directed his behavior.

How to be an example, 1 Timothy 4:4-12

The scrutiny of the world is always before the Christian leader.
He cannot escape its searching light which is there to discredit him, if possible.
Within the church there is also the test of how he behaves so that he is an example to others.

1. A good minister (verses 4-7a)

(This section follows the beginning of Chapter 4 and the end of Chapter 3.)

Chapter 3 has dealt with the faith with its demands and profession.
Chapter 4 begins by reminding Timothy that it is possible to fall away from the faith and become involved
in strange doctrines which will lead to a distorted life.

This brings Paul to offset this aberration by speaking of the characteristics of the good life
which is expected of Timothy.
There had been those who taught that celibacy and asceticism in particular were preferable
for the Christian leader.
Paul would correct that view in stating that marriage was natural and good for all, and not to be rejected.
Eating meats also had its place for health and vitality if the servant of God was to be fit
and strong for his task.

There have been those groups within the church throughout the centuries -- and even today
who have taught these false doctrines, whereas Paul speaks of these practices as something
 to be "received with thanksgiving for they have been sanctified to the word of God and prayer." (Verse 5)

A good minister not only enters into the normal relationships of life, such as marriage and the enjoyment
of social fellowship, but he judiciously encourages good doctrine and not old wives' fables.
The education of the church comes through the teaching of the leader.

There is a refusal of the profane, the mischievous, and the unapproved.
By sifting and rejecting the second-rate and the bad, the teacher encourages the good and the best truths.
Discrimination is part of the work of the leader of a congregation.
In this he shows himself a good minister.

The "good minister" is spoken of here in terms of the attractive servant or deacon worker.
The word "minister," implies servant as a deacon serves.
Timothy was nurtured in the faith and Paul urged him to nourish his people in the words of faith
and of good doctrine. (Verse 6)
In this Timothy would be an example to all.
The idle tales and gossipy talk of the irresponsible have no place alongside of the imperishable Gospel.

2. Exercise unto godliness.

Here Paul contrasts the highest exercise of training the body and that of the soul.
Education is the art of bringing out what is in a man.

His capacity and potential are interrelated so that a teacher induces development by training
and exercise of the mind.
The Greeks taught that the mastery of the self was necessary to perfection and completeness.
Bodily discipline played a large part in the exercises prescribed.
The games were used by the Grecians as a means of development.
The gymnasium stimulated the physical powers.
Out of the many games and exercises for training came the strong and healthy body.

The mind was also trained for self-knowledge and self-control.
The culture of the Greeks is renowned.
Its limitations lay in its self-interest.
It was excellent in itself.
It was wholesome and intellectual, but it could not become spiritual.
Here was the limitation as Paul saw it.
Mastery of muscle and perfection of the ideal through the mind lacked what the Christian faith brought.

Paul spoke of the "little" given by physical and mental discipline as though he equated this with
old wives' tales as nothing to boast about.
Christ came to bring a higher education through the spirit.
Exercise and discipline were also part of the Christian training for godliness.

The Greeks had much from their education of mind and body, but Christianity added an extra which became
 the capstone of the perfection of man.
Self-culture gave a man much, but self-sacrifice by the cross of Christ gave much more.

Timothy became an example for the Christian way of life in his disciplined life.
He had been nurtured in it as a child and then he had been introduced to the Scriptures which made him
wise under salvation. (2 Timothy 3:14, 16)

His background provided him a splendid opportunity to be grounded in the essentials of the faith.
The spiritual wisdom he garnered enabled him to be an example to his people.

3. Opportunity of youth.

Young Timothy had received a gift from God.
Possibly this refers to his endowment under God.
Natural gifts can be polished and trained so that a man finds greater usefulness in God's service.
Had Timothy received those qualities of character and habit which fitted him to be a pastor?

An under shepherd who cares for the flock of Christ needs concern and love as he thinks of other people.
He must be a patient individual, ready to listen to others.
He must be kind and considerate, not brusque and harsh.
He must be sympathetic.
To be a model for other believers, Timothy needed gracing graciousness of spirit when dealing with his people.

The sphere of Timothy's example and influence lay:

(1) In word.

A man's speech is noted.
His words are weighed.
He must speak the truth.
He must preach the gospel.
His words on the side are also important.
A teacher is in greater condemnation than his hearers.
He exhorts and so must be sincere.

(2) And manner of life.

Our speech is a measured by our conduct.
What habits did Timothy have?
Was he willing to suffer for the faith?
Did he rebuke sin with boldness and stand against the wrong?

(3) In love.

Spirit of compassion and concern for others is that which reacts most effectively.
The Lord was known supremely for His love, so must the leader of a congregation express love.

(4) In faith.

The faithfulness of God is revealed through the pastor's actions and encouragement of others.
Our faith is in more of God's faithfulness in which we trust.
The faith is kept.

(5) In purity.

A clean moral life is the best antiseptic.
Timothy lived in a heathen city with its foul atmosphere.
By cultivating these principles and ways of life, Timothy stood out from others.
Although young Timothy was not to shrink from his responsibility, he would not be despised by others
when they saw the reality of his example.

How to take heed, 1 Timothy 4:16

In summing up his exhortation Paul points to two areas of practical achievement.

1. Give heed to things that matter.

Paul has spoken also of the need to read and to teach, using the gifts God gave.
Now he urges the continuance of "these things."
Continuance is the secret of success and advance.
Such concentration pays its dividends.

Timothy had been recognized by the Presbytery (verse 14) and a congregation had accepted him
as their pastor.
There were many things to attend to as a leader of people: Bible reading, study, prayer,
and a disciplined life.

2. Take heed to your own life.

The personal element is always present.
There are things to be done and things to be used.
They are tools for the consecrated man.
But the individual is greater than things.

Thus came this injunction to concentrate on his own spiritual progress.
If Timothy is to lead others he must first be led of God.
He must point the way to the higher levels of the Christian life.
He die not dissipate his energies.
He must continue.

True leaders are God-given, but they are also men of self-discipline.
Physical, mental, and spiritual powers are united in a consecrated life of concentration
to the location indicated.
In continuance of this counsel lies the secret of Timothy.

This concludes Chapter 4

Next is Stewardship of Possessions -- 1 Timothy 6:6-12

[Home] [About God] [About Jesus] [Angels] [Beatitudes] [John 15] [Acts] [Romans 8] [Colossians] [Ephesians] [Psalms of Asents] [Habakkuk] [Psalm 23] [Psalm 139] [Revelation] [1 Timothy Intro] [Salvation] [Ch. Officers] [Disciplined] [Stewardship] [2 Timothy] [Titus]