The Church’s Pursuit (1 Timothy 6)

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Today we discern what it means for Christians to have faith with 4 key actions.

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EXAMINE           1 Timothy 6                            The Church’s Pursuit

Previously in the letter we have seen Paul address false teachers, priority of prayer, qualifications of leaders in the church, and care instructions for the church family (young, old, widows, elders). Paul not only addresses the dangers of false doctrine but the minefield of materialism (Note: SPBC sermons on “How To Be Rich”; specifically on 1 Timothy 6).[3] And his final [important] message in this letter to Timothy about the church’s pursuit is summarized in a familiar phrase in 1Tim 6:12: “Fight the good fight of faith.”

This phrase is similar to 1Tim 1:18 when Paul said, “Timothy, wage the good warfare”. So, it appears as if Paul is bookending his letter with the message to Timothy & Ephesian church – and to all believers, that the Christian life is a battle.

You are in a fight for faith for yourself and the soul of humanity.

We are in wartime and not peacetime; this is a running theme of Scripture.

  • Rom 7:23 “the members [of my body] wage war against the law [of sin]
  • Heb 12:4 “We are in a struggle against sin.”
  • James 4:1 “your passions are at war within you”
  • 1Pet 2:11 “the passions of the flesh wage war against your soul”
  • 2 Tim 2:3-4 We are “soldiers” aiming to please our commander in Christ Jesus
  • Eph 6:12 “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”
  • 2Cor 10:4 “the weapons of our warfare are not of flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds”
  • Rev 17:14 “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

Spiritual war is a reality for every single person – whether you are a committed follower of Jesus Christ, a casual church attender, or a cynical agnostic/atheist.

  • A battle for your soul.
  • A battle for your family: marriage communication & commitment, parenting role & relationship.
  • A battle attacking your mind with anxiety and doubt.
  • A battle raging in your heart against lust and purity.
  • A battle distorting your decision-making from pride, greed, materialism, and sin.
  • A battleground without limits in homes, churches, school campuses, workplaces.
  • An adversary who is formidable and frightening, masquerading as an angel of light (2Cor 11:14) and prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1Pet 5:8).
    • The Bible says we are to take our enemy seriously.
    • The Bible does not say, “Ignore the devil and he will flee from you.” If you try to avoid this war, pretend the battle isn’t serious, and you do little to contend for the faith, then you will stumble and sink, and you will be snatched up and enslaved by the enemy.
    • Casualties of this war do not merely suffer physical wounds or emotional scars, but they will lose everything, even their soul as they are cast into a hell of everlasting suffering.
    • The Bible calls us to be awake, alert, and armed for battle.

Christians are ready for battle with the following actions (imperative verbs)

  • Flee sin.

First, Paul calls Timothy, “man of God” (1Tim 6:11). This title is powerful and was rare among believers. In OT, it was given to Moses (Deut 33:1), Angel of Lord or Pre-incarnate Christ (Judg 13:6), Prophet Samuel (1Sam 9:6), Shemiah who rebuked Rehoboam (1Ki 12:22), Prophet Elijah (1Ki 17:18), Prophet Elisha (2Ki 4:7), King David post-humus (Neh 12:24, 36). The phrase is used one more time, interestingly in 2Tim 3:17, as a way of not just describing Timothy but all believers. Paul’s intent is to inspire confidence in Timothy, as in all Christians.

  • Timothy lacked the right background; was bi-racial (Acts 16:1).
  • Timothy lacked a good or godly father (2Tim 1:5).
  • Timothy lacked experienced and aged wisdom (1Tim 3:14-15; 4:12).
  • Timothy lacked physical strength and good health (1Tim 4:8; 5:23).
  • Timothy lacked discernment for what/when/how to speak (1Tim 4:6-16; 5:1; 6:3-5; 6:20-21; 2Tim 1:13)
  • Timothy lacked the boldness of Paul; timid Timothy (2Tim 1:7-8).
  • Timothy did not lack the grace of God at work in his life. Paul describes him to Philippians, “I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For [others] seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father, he has served me in the gospel.” (Php 2:19-22).

The “these things” context is controversy and covetousness, with Paul telling Timothy to stay away from divisive talk and delusional prosperity. The false teachers and ungodly leaders in the church were causing great harm. Also, Paul writes in a second letter to Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” (2Tim 2:22). The Christian is not to flirt with sin but flee it.

Further, you may think fleeing is not a good fighting strategy. Let me assure you, there are times to face your fights and there are times to flee; the strategy depends on the situation and your sin weakness.

  • Men flee sexual immorality and lusts. See Joseph’s strategy (Gen 39; 1Cor 6:18).
  • Women learn to train minds about identity in Christ and not deceived for finding identity in lies of world.
  • We can run away, but we must be running toward something

 

Follow Christ.
Paul exhorts Timothy to pursue the character of Jesus Christ: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Christianity isn’t about removing desires but pursuing the right ones. Note also these virtues balance the vertical relationship with God and the horizontal relationships with others.

  • Like the VBS children needing to follow their rotation leaders or they would wander aimlessly. How much more do we need to follow our leaders and ultimately, our Lord.
  • Locate your leader. Many people claim they want a mentor but they seldom search or ever get around to selecting one.
  • Spend time with Jesus in the Scriptures (Gospels), in prayer, in service with people (Mt 25:45).

Fight for faith.
Paul says, “fight the good fight of faith.”

  • Fight = ἀγωνίζομαι, agonizing struggle, labor intensely. The term is used in military and athletic contexts.
  • Fight described as καλός = good, honorable, even beautiful.
  • Spiritual pacifism may be common among Christians today but it would have been unfamiliar and unacceptable to early Christians, so fight the good fight of faith.
    • Spiritual pacifism is either afraid of failing or afraid of faith bravery. When the spiritual growth ceases to be a fight
      • What if I fall? O my darling, but what if you fly? (Erin Hanson)
      • Stand for something or fall for anything.
      • Spiritual retreat only leads to spiritual defeat,
    • A person is known for the cause for which they will conflict and combat. For what are you fighting in your life? What purpose do you strive and struggle?
    • The fight of faith often is waged in suffering and spiritual darkness. I get this from Paul’s mention of Jesus’s confession before Pontius Pilate. Likewise, Paul mentions fighting for faith before his expected death and says he is finishing the race (2Tim 4:6-7). When we fight, we expect to finish; but if we don’t fight, we cannot expect to finish.

* Cheetah’s can chase prey by running fast (0-40 in 3 strides), but if it doesn’t catch it quickly it will cease; it ceases bc its heart rate becomes excessive & tires quickly. God is not concerned how fast but how far we go.

  • Persevere – keep going and fighting in _______, that you may be mature and complete (James 1:4).
    • Relationship / Goal / faith or church commitment

Fasten to hope.
The fourth action Paul states is taking hold of the eternal life to which you were called. Again, Paul is inspiring confidence in the believer to realize 1) the great hope they have secure in Christ, 2) how taking hold of eternal life empowers day-to-day living.

  • When you realize heaven is your home, you won’t make decisions to live in hell.
  • When you realize you will live in eternal joy, you won’t live for temporary pleasures and you become more grateful for God’s every day grace and gifts.
  • When we have eternity amnesia we become anxious and angry when this world disappoints us. But Christ is calling us to fasten our faith and anchor our hope in eternal life with God.
  • There’s coming a day when earthly conflicts, spiritual battles, and the war against the worship of God will end. The outcome of that Day is not up for debate. Sin will be silenced. Evil will be extinguished. Satan will be sunk in the lake of fire. Satan is a defeated foe and Jesus is the guaranteed victor. We do not fight our battles for victory, but from victory. So, when we have a setback, just know God is calling you to have a comeback. Get up and fight another round.
  • We must know our identity.
    • God knows your name and you are His child.
    • You belong to Christ and are forever forgiven.
    • You are not fighting against God, but God is fighting for you!
      • Look at the cross where Jesus made the good confession.
      • Look at the promise of Jesus to return at a proper time.
      • Look at the present position of Christ – who is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light”

C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity) “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.”

  • Establish a prayer routine each morning, bc prayer is what shapes your perspective between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world.

 

APPLY/THINK
Paul’s last statement: “Grace be with you” – the you is plural.

  • You are not alone in life and in the fight of faith.
  • Our mission is to guard the deposit entrusted to us – growing godly generations – so our children’s children’s children may flee sin, follow Christ, fight for faith, and hold fast to hope.

[1] https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/bachelorette-luke-hannah-sex-jesus

[2] This point is from https://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/the-bachelorette-sex-and-the-love-of-jesus

[3] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2017/05/30/how-to-be-rich-sermon-series/

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