The Proper Example of a True Believer
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1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. (NKJV)
Paul here is writing to perhaps the most trusted and beloved brother in Christ he had during his sojourn. The difference in there ages might not be exactly known, but we can sum up from the Scripture that Paul was perhaps old enough to be Timothy’s Father. In 1 Timothy 1:2 Paul calls him a “true son in the faith.” I believe Paul thought of Timothy also as his own son. Paul spoke of Timothy’s Mother and Grandmother but never of his earthly Father. Maybe his Father had past away early in Timothy’s childhood or abandoned his family because of their faith in Jesus Christ, we just do not know. However, it is clear that Paul had a special affection for this young man probably knowing him from his childhood.
Paul was so concerned for Timothy’s future walk with Christ that he wanted to warn him, advise him, and exhort him as to how his walk with Jesus Christ should be and how he must not allow false teachers and false brethren to steer him away from the truth of the gospel of Christ. Paul tells him over and over in these two epistles to avoid the false and cleave (weld himself) to the truth in Christ Jesus our Lord.
His youth had nothing to do with his walk with Christ for Christ is able to make all stand firm in Him regardless of age. Paul here tells Timothy that despite his youth that he must be a shining example for all the believers as their Shepard. This was so important and critical to Paul that he gave Timothy instruction in two separate letters outlining what his life in Christ Jesus should look like. Paul wanted him to know that the people he led would reflect on him as a Pastor and that it would be know way around this truth. I have no idea who wrote the quote below, but it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
“Himself a wanderer from the narrow way,
His silly sheep, no wonder if they stray.”
1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (NKJV)
Paul in our subject verse gave Timothy six (6) areas of his life that he must be on guard and must be a good example to others.
1) In word - This comes from the Greek word logos, which means something said (including the thought). Paul is not here referring to only his preaching but more specifically his everyday speech. Timothy at all times should strive to have a clean mouth void of profanity, gossip, slander, etc. His speech should always be to build up and not to tear down.
Does this mean that he would never slip on occasion and say something that was not wholesome, of course not? But as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ taught us that out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak. Timothy’s speech should reflect his heart changed by the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. His speech should be filled with his love, gratitude, and thankfulness to Christ at all times. He should never be telling dirty or filthy jokes with people nor should he allow himself to partake in others telling such jokes by affirming them with his laughter and acceptance of such speech.
Ephesians 5:4-5 “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor course jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.” (NKJV)
2) In conduct - Well are not we all free in Christ Jesus to live as we each please. We are free in Christ and the Scripture and our own hearts convey this to each of us, but freedom does not mean license. We as citizens of the United States of America are free, but we cannot violate the rules and regulations that govern this nation without penalty. Likewise, we are free in Jesus Christ; however, we are governed by the Word of God. The Word of God is our conduct monitor.
2 Timothy 2:3-5 You (Timothy) therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. (NKJV)
Please know that Paul throughout all of his epistles makes it very clear that a true example of redemption by the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord will lead us far away from sins gripping and enslaving power in our hearts and lives and bring us closer and closer to Christ’s cross where death to sin is found.
Colossians 3:5-7 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness (which is idolatry), on account of which things' sake the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience, among whom you also once walked, when you lived in these. (MKJV)
Paul wants Timothy to know that he must, he will endure affliction and hardship (drawing from his own trials and test over the years) as a sojourner, and his aim must always be obedience to the Word of God. Just two verses above (verse 10) Paul tells us that a true believer will suffer reproach because of our trust in the Living God. Timothy was not to expect popularity for his steadfast faithfulness to the Word of God, but in many cases hatred and bitter envy. Yet his conduct in private and public was to be above reproach.
3) In love - Timothy was to show forth to the world all around him his unfailing love for Jesus Christ. Love is a word that is thrown about today like falling leaves from a tree are blown about in the wind being scattered all over. I dare say many people do not even really understand what the word truly means.
To love as the Lord Jesus Christ loved would be no simple or easy task for Timothy or us today. Christ’s love for the disciples was sacrificial, steadfast, and also stern and rebuking when they needed such love. In the proverbs, the Lord's word says that open rebuke is better than love concealed. One might ask why the Lord Jesus Christ spoke so harshly to the religious Jewish rulers and the simple answer is because of His great love for them that He wanted them to see their lost condition and to bring them to repentance. Christ never loved someone so much that He became apathetic about there spiritual condition. He wanted then and still wants today to see souls healed from sins grip of bondage and enslavement.
It was His great love that said in the Garden of Gethsemane as He was agonizing (dropping sweats of blood) over the enormity of separation from the Father and having the filth of sin placed on Him for you and me that made Him cry out “Not my will but thine be done.” His love for us was so strong that by His stripes He healed us from sin. Do I really love someone like Jesus loves if I help them stay in their sinful lifestyle? I have found that many today believe falsely about how Christ Jesus our Lord truly loves His children and this lost and dying world.
Listen to these words from F.B. Meyer (1847-1929), “We must distinguish between love and the emotion of love. The former is always possible, though not always and immediately the latter. Our Lord repeating the ancient words of the Pentateuch taught us that we might love God with our mind and strength, as well as with our hearts. We all know that the mind and strength are governed not by our emotions, but by our wills. We can love, therefore, by determining to put our thought and energies at the service of another for the sake of God; and we shall find our emotions kindle into a sacred glow of conscious affection.
The greatest word in the world is the unfathomable phrase, "God is Love." You can no more define the essence of love than you can define the essence of God, but you can describe its effects and fruits. I give Dr. Weymouth's translation: "Love is patient and kind, knows neither envy nor jealousy; is not forward and self-assertive, nor boastful and conceited. She does not behave unbecomingly, nor seek to aggrandize herself, nor blaze out in passionate anger, nor brood over wrongs. She finds no pleasure in injustice done to others, but joyfully sides with the truth. She knows how to be silent; she is full of trust, full of hope, full of patient endurance." O Lord, my love is like some feebly glimmering spark; I would that it were as a hot flame. Kindle it by the breath of Thy Holy Spirit, till Thy love constraineth me. AMEN.”
This is what Paul so wanted to see manifested continually in the life of Timothy and he wants to see it in our lives today, that Christ Jesus our Lord would be so Glorified upon this earth. Those still lost (blinded by lust and temporal desires) do not know or understand real love and never will until Christ opens their spiritual eyes. However, our eyes have been opened and we should be walking in the good works (morally virtues and morally excellent works) ordained for us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ before He spoke this world into existence. Let us be so in love with Jesus Christ that we cannot help but love all that He loves.
4) In spirit - Let everything we do be done in such a Godly manner as not to bring reproach to the name of Jesus Christ. We must not begrudgingly do the most un-noticed task, but in all things let us do it in a spirit that honors Christ Jesus. Whether we are seen of men or recognized by them for the particular thing that we do matter not, only that we do all things that would Glorify Christ Jesus.
We must be an example of worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in spirit and truth. We must fight against trying to worship the Lord Jesus in our flesh, this brings no Glory to Him and is not a sweet savor to Him at all, but rather repulsive. We must examine our spirit (our motives or intentions) and make sure they have His honor and glory in our hearts. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is jealous over us or for us and wants to dominate our thoughts, hearts, and souls constantly. I pray that I will let Him and that you will do likewise.
5) In faith - Our profession of faith must be in Jesus Christ revealed in the pages of Holy Scripture. We must hold fast to our profession of faith in Christ Jesus and not wavering or waffling with every wind of doctrine. We must contend for the truth of our faith in the true Jesus of the Bible as the Apostle Jude warned us.
You know the enemies lies are so subtle and sound so much like the truth that he will and is deceiving even some of the elect. Does anyone out there remember the show that originated on CBS entitled “Joan of Arcadia”? Well, I did not watch the show when it was on CBS, but GMC (Gospel Music Channel) aired several episodes this past Sunday (11/07/10), including the pilot show. Therefore, because GMC deemed it fit to air on their network, I decided to watch a tape of the pilot episode.
Well, for those of you out there not familiar with what the show is all about, I will give a very brief description. The show is about a young high school girl who meets God as He manifest Himself to her in the bodies of different human beings. One moment He might appear to her as a teenage boy and the next a middle-aged woman, etc. You get the picture, I pray. Well, in the pilot episode God appears to her as a teenage boy in her high school. Of course she did not believe the boy, but thought He was crazy until He told her everything about her life and family. Then she asked Him if He were the God of the Ten Commandments, the burning bush, that God.
The response from the young actor playing the part of God was very troubling for all those who have ears to hear. He said, “Yes, I did not come off so well in the Old Testament, but I am much kinder in the New Testament and the Quran. Stooooooop!! Did you get that? The writers of this show equated Jesus Christ (the one true God) to Ali of the Quran.
Is not Satan clever or what? Millions of people watched this show and thought nothing of that statement I am sure. I turned it off immediately. This is what Paul is writing to Timothy to be an example to all believers in faith (the faith) as Jude described for us in his epistle. Please do not take this lightly or believe I am being nit picky. For this is just what the enemy would desire you to think. Stand fast in your faith in Jesus Christ of the Bible and let nothing or no one sway you away from the truth. Let us not be deceived my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.
Jude 1:3-4 Having made all haste to write to you about the common salvation, beloved, I had need to write to you to exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. For certain men crept in secretly, those having been of old previously written into this condemnation, ungodly ones perverting the grace of our God for unbridled lust, and denying the only Master, God, even our Lord Jesus Christ. (MKJV)
6) In purity - Alas, we have come to the final exhortation from the Apostle Paul to young Timothy and in it he strongly finishes by telling him to be an example in purity. I trust it is no accident that Paul left this for last because he was beginning to see impurity leak into the Church of Jesus Christ prior to his head being removed by Nero. Paul wanted Timothy to take heed to the example of his life before him that though he (Paul) had no wife, yet by the grace given to him by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ he persevered and presented his entire body to Christ pure from sexual immorality.
Paul understood that Timothy being a young man perhaps in his early twenties would often be tempted by satan to compromise by bringing young beautiful women around him who did not truly love our Lord Jesus Christ. They would be there to tempt Timothy into sexual immorality. Paul being an aged veteran at the subtle schemes of the devil wanted to warn Timothy, but at the same time strengthen him to stand firm with his waist girded about with truth.
Psalm 25:21 Let purity and uprightness keep me; for I wait on You. (MKJV)
Proverbs 22:11 He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the King will be his friend. (NKJV)
Paul warned the Corinthian Church not to receive God’s grace in vain. He wanted Timothy to understand that he had no right to presume on the grace of God. Paul knew that Timothy would be assailed by many false teachers trying to steer him in that direction and away from the simplicity in Christ Jesus and the true gospel to taking the grace of God and turning it into a license to sin. Paul wanted Timothy to be an example of all purity (cleanliness or chastity) before a lost and dying world. Paul wanted Timothy’s inner man and outer man to show forth the same fruit or to be on the same page so to speak. Paul knew that the condition of Timothy’s heart would ultimately bear itself out in the way he lived out his Christian life.
Psalm 119:10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments. (NKJV)
Proverbs 4:4 He also taught me, and said to me: "Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. (NKJV)
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. (NKJV)
Please do not believe for one second that it was much easier back then to remain sexually pure than today. This is not true. Timothy faced the same struggles and challenges we do today because his enemy then is still our enemy today. However, the same grace that Christ so graciously gave to the Apostle Paul was available for Timothy and is likewise available for you and me today. Paul wanted what he wrote to the Corinthian Church in 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 to be the guidepost for Timothy’s ministry and he also wants these words to be the lamp for every true believer today.
2 Corinthians 6:3-10 We are in nothing giving cause of stumbling, in no way, so that the ministry may not be blamed, but in everything commending ourselves as God's servants, in much patience, in troubles, in emergencies, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; in pureness, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in love unfeigned, in the Word of Truth, in the power of God, through the weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, through glory and dishonor, through evil report and good report; as deceivers and yet true; as unknown and yet well known; as dying and, behold, we live; as chastened and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things. (MKJV)
Despite the prosperity gospel we see preached today in many a place and was preached even back then as Peter told us (2 Peter 2), Paul wanted Timothy to recall the truth of his (Paul’s life) of how he was severely persecuted in many places for Christ sake. Paul wanted to prepare Timothy for some of the same treatment as he stood for truth and not compromise. He wanted Timothy to know that there would be a price that he must pay for remaining sexually pure in his life and ministry. This was the will of the Lord Jesus Christ for Timothy in this area of his life. Though he might pay a severe price from the harsh treatment of men down here, his obedience would bring Glory to Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
Daniel 6:22 My God has sent His Angel, and has shut the lions' mouths, and they have not hurt me, because before Him purity was found in me. And also before you, O king, I have done no harm. (MKJV)
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr,
Author, Silent Assassins of the Soul (not yet published; coming soon as the Lord wills)
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