Disciplined Godliness

Steve Viars February 2, 2008 1 Timothy 4:1-16

 

- A couple of weeks ago we began our study by talking about portable global positioning systems…

- we were doing that as a way to introduce our theme Seeking God’s Plan…

- and I quoted a few statistics showing how popular GPS systems are becoming and I raised the question of great it would be if there was a GPS system for life…

- where you had a device that told you what time to get out of bed…

- that prompted you to have your devotions in the morning…

- that reminded you of important prayer requests…and on and on…

- to have a portable GPS system for life would really be something…

- then we raised the question of having a similar device for strategic planning for the church…

- where an electronic device told us exactly what steps to take…

- exactly what initiatives to develop…

- exactly what ministries to start…

- exactly what buildings to construct…that would be wonderful if we had that kind of device…

- well, someone from our church pointed out an article that ran that very day in the Indianapolis Star that would suggest that GPS systems aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be…

- it was entitled “Caution: GPS devices can lead you astray”.

- let me read a bit of it to you…

- In an episode of NBC’s “The Office” a few months ago, bumbling boss Michael Scott trusted his global positioning system so completely that he drove into a lake when directed to turn right.

- “The machine knows!” he yelled, seconds before hitting the water.

- In the case of a California driver who caused a fiery train crash in Bedford hills, NY, and a spate of confused motorists reported throughout the world, truth may be even stranger than fiction. 

- “As the car is driving over the tracks, the GPS tells him to turn right, and he turns right onto the railroad tracks,” said Dan Brucker, Metro-North Railroad spokesman, of the accident January 2 at the Green lane train crossing.  “That’s how it happened”. 

- Bo Bai, 32, Sunnyvale, CA told Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police that his rental car’s global positioning system  instructed him to turn right as he was crossing the train tracks. 

- He got stuck, tried to reverse and finally abandoned the car before it was slammed by a northbound train, MTA police said. 

- With the boom in sales of GPS devices in recent years, police also have encountered more accidents caused by drivers blindly obeying, misinterpreting or becoming distracted by the illuminated screens with the authoritative voices.

- a spokesman for one of the largest manufacturers of GPS systems said this –“GPS is no substitute for common sense, obviously”.

- perhaps the lesson there is, it is possible to believe that you are following the right plan, when the truth of the matter is, you’re actually heading for disaster…

- that is also one of the central lessons of the book of I Timothy…

- the people who made up the church of Ephesus were in great danger of being distracted…of getting off course…

- and just because someone was saying in an authoritative way – “this is the way the church ought to go”…that doesn’t mean that voice was necessarily correct…

- just because somebody sincerely believes something doesn’t necessarily make it right…

- just because someone is saying something authoritatively in the church is no substitute for common sense, obviously…

- this is important to our church family in these first two months of the year because we’ve been studying verse by verse through the book of I Timothy Seeking God’s Plan for His Family

- because we want to be sure that we are living by biblical common sense, let’s turn our attention back to that book this morning…

- let me invite you to open your Bible this morning to I Timothy chapter 4 – page 163 [check that] of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- so far we’ve seen three major answers to the question – what is God’s plan for the church?

1. First of all, God wants us to be characterized by Purposeful Instruction...

- not legalism...not a bunch of rules added to the Scripture in a self-righteous fashion...

- but with focus on the gospel of grace, submitting ourselves to sola scriptura...the authority of the Word of God alone...

- and when that happens, the result is...

- 1 Timothy 1:5 - But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

2. The second answer came in the 1st half of chapter 2 – where we learned that God wants us to have a Prayerful Focus...

- God’s plan is that His people would make entreaties, and prayers, and petitions, and thanksgivings for all men, especially leaders in government and others in authority...

3. Then last week, from the end of chapter 2 and all of chapter 3 – the matter of Qualified Leadership…

- and we saw that in this culture we’re its all about style and externals…God wants the men of the church, and the women of the church to be people of character…

- who adorn our lives with good works…

- who give the bulk of our attention to the condition of our hearts, and the condition of our hands…

- now this morning, we’d like to work our way through I Timothy chapter 4, where we learn that God’s plan for His church also is that we would be people of Disciplined Godliness.

- read I Timothy 4:1-16

- in the time we have remaining, let’s look for 3 principles to help God’s people accomplish the purpose for which we were made.

I. Beware of being Distracted.

- now I realize that somebody might say, boy these first few verses seem a bit over the top...is it likely that the church is really going to face anything like this in our day and age?...

- and the answer is yes...of course...but please keep these ideas in mind...

1. False teachers sometimes emerge from within the church body...

Acts 20:29-30 - I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

- see, the savage wolves from outside the church would be much easier to recognize...

- but he says there will also be people “from among your own selves”...

- think about that – your friends...the people you went to church with...

- the people you had super-bowl parties with and chili cook-offs...

- remember this too – in cases like this, its not as if a person wakes up one morning and says...I’m going to be a false teacher today...I’m going to try to create problems in the church...

- in cases that rise up from within the church...often it is by a well—meaning person who gets carried away with an idea that might even have some merit in its place...but this person takes it to an extreme...

- I mentioned last week that I had just returned from a trip to Houston...

- one of the many conversations I had in between sessions was with a woman who told me of a problem a single woman she was counseling was having...

- person her father, who was a Christian, took the position that as a young single woman, she was always to be under his authority until he gave her to someone to be married...

- so until then, he believed that she should not work outside the home, even though she was about 22 at the time...

- she could only date people he approved of...and apparently no one like that had come along yet...

- and so here’s this single woman, wanting to honor her father...but also not wanting to be trapped in his thing for the rest of her days...

- now do you believe that man woke up one morning and said – I’m going to be a false teacher?...no, it probably started out of a sincere desire to protect his daughter and a belief that children should honor their parents...but sometimes Christian people good concepts to bad extremes...

- now, factor this in as well...when those kinds of ideas are brought into the church and they become tests of someone else’s spirituality...or salvation...that will distract a church, will tear up a church in a heartbeat...

- which brings up the second idea you have to keep in mind to understand that Paul is not being over the top here --- when those kinds of ideas are becoming divisive in a church...that gives evidence of a spiritual battle being waged  and the productivity of that church...

- that’s why Paul also told this church...Ephesians 6:12 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

- see, if you look at these first 5 verses and say – Paul’s getting a little worked up here over nothing – maybe that’s because God’s people can be a bit cavalier about what really can be occurring among the body...

- beware of being distracted...now, please tell me, what is...

A. The source of false teaching – v. 1.

- deceitful spirits

- doctrines of demons

- and again---it might come sounding pretty spiritual, the person may even think he/she is doing the church a favor...

- it is possible for a Christian to be very sincere in what he/she believes/says...but to be so sincerely wrong that in that given situation they are actually accomplishing the purposes of satan...

- the quintessential example of that is Matthew 16 [develop context]

- Matthew 16:23 - But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

- I realize that if you grew up watching Saturday night live, you might say, boy PV, you sound like the church lady – where we’re looking for satan everywhere...just because the world makes fun of something doesn’t mean it isn’t true...and some of God’s people would do a whole lot better if they would spend less time in front of the television and more time in front of their Bibles...

B. The nature of false teaching – v. 2-3.

- hypocritical

- lies seared in their consciences

- additions to the word, especially with areas related to the body

- and you can see how some of this would get started...

- people rightly concerned about sinning with their bodies...

- and they study what Scripture says about the potential weaknesses of our bodies and the importance of being carefully how we use them and what we do with them...

- and here’s what generally happens...some people make specific applications to themselves (which isn’t necessarily wrong), but then often good ideas are taken to seed...and pretty soon they become rules and regulations that go far beyond what Scripture ever intended...

- and that can be like a drug...look how spiritual I am...look at this new insight I have into God’s Word...why aren’t other people as spiritual as me?...I need to warn others in the church about this...I need to separate from people who don’t see this exactly the way I do...

- and that becomes lie seared on that person’s conscience...and they can’t let it go...

- and that kind of false teaching, if it is allowed to get a foot hold in the church, becomes an incredible distraction...

- well, what’s the antidote?...

C. The antidote to false teaching.

- do you see it in verse 5?...

- the Word of God – v. 5

- being constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of sound doctrine – v. 6

- the principle is – the more you are grounded in the truth of the Word of God the less likely you are to become a false teacher yourself, or to be taken in by other false teachers...

- and I realize that someone might say – I can’t believe you would even suggest that someone within our congregation could ever become a false teacher...

- friend, to not suggest that would be irresponsible...this is exactly how the process works...

- now, let’s just think about some take-always based on what we have on the table thus far...

- how do you believe Paul wanted this information to impact the original hearers?

- expose yourself to heavy doses of the antidote...

- the need is for massive doses of the Word of God...

1. This is why we encourage people to be in the Word regularly themselves – cf. Dorothy Barnett – bring my Bible to the hospital, I don’t want to get behind in my Bible reading...

2. This is why we structure our worship services the way we do – there is a significant percentage of time devoted to studying the Word in a systematic way...

3. This is why we encourage folks to join an ABF [cf. churches that don’t have ABF’s...] – cf. also the importance of children being in SS...

4. This is also why we would encourage you to consider jumping into an FCI class in a few weeks...[develop]

5. could apply to the counseling conference – a fair amount of the false teaching in the American evangelical church has come through the doors of the counseling room – that is why we hold a conference that emphasizes the sufficiency of Scripture – develop folks being willing to serve...]

- now, can I just ask you – are you making it less likely that you will be distracted by false teaching by exposing yourself and your family to massive doses of the Word of God?

II. Seek to Practice Disciplined Godliness.

- you might not have liked Paul’s statement in the first half of verse 7 – why is he poking fun at “old women”?...

- that’s better understood as poking fun at people who believed that women should not be carefully taught the Word of God right along with the men in the church...

- if you keep biblical truth away from people simply on the basis of their gender, what kind of product is that going to produce long term?...the answer is [whether we are talking about a man or a woman], a person who is not well grounded and therefore easily distracted...

- so what do we do?...exercise yourself for the purpose of godliness...

- now, that is a crucial phrase in the NT...and such an important aspect of the sanctification process...let’s break it down...

A. The goal – godliness.

- the Greek wordeusebeia -- Godliness - a right attitude and response toward the true Creator God; a preoccupation from the heart with holy and sacred realities. It is respect for what is due to God, and is thus the highest of all virtues.

- in other words, becoming like God...

- now, this is not like some of the cults that believe you can become a god...that certainly not what we’re talking about...

- but the point here is – by not being distracted by false teaching, you can live in a way that you are becoming more and more consistent with the purpose for which you were made...

- do you remember way back in the book of Genesis---what differentiated humans from animals...we were made in the image of God...

- we were to reflect His glory...we were to live as his representatives on the earth, subduing the creation around us in submission to our great king and in so doing bringing His great glory...

- that’s one of the things that is so tragic about sin...it marred and mars the image of God in man...

- we worship the creature instead of the Creator...

- the man who is hooked on pornography and won’t control his sexual desires is not acting like a man...he’s acting like an animal...he’s not reflecting the image of God, he’s not subduing the creation, he’s being subdued by it...

- the woman who won’t control her anger and constantly blows up around the house...she’s not reflecting the patience and kindness of the God in whose she’s made...

- she’s not subduing the creation...she’s being subdued by it...

- and in each case and hundreds more we could illustrate...there’s no godliness there...people don’t watch that and say...now I understand more of what God is like because I see His image in you...

- that’s the beauty too of redemption...because in Christ we are in the process of being re-made...Colossians 3:10 - and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—

- can I ask you a question this morning?...are you growing in godliness?...

- and I’m not talking about some pious religiosity...I’m talking about practical godliness...

- where people would say that their association with you helps them understand more about God...they see Him in you...

- do you think our church is known for its godliness?...[develop]

- now, let’s be clear about this – godliness is a byproduct of redemption...

- [develop the importance of each person attending our church being sure that they have trusted Christ as savior and Lord – you don’t become godly in order to be saved – you begin becoming godly because you are saved...]

- now, that’s the goal, but in and or itself, that could actually be frustrating...thank the Lord that He also is clear about...

B. The process – discipline.

- discipline – gumnazo

- from which we get the English words gymnasium, or gymnastics...

- every Greek city had a gymnasium, and Ephesus would have been no exception...

- people were familiar with the concept of working...or sweating...of striving for a goal...

- Paul picks up on that concept and says...that is a significant part of the process of becoming godly...

- you work at it...

- sometimes we speak so much about not working for our salvation that we then adopt some sort of a passive approach to our Christian life...

- nothing is further from the truth...

- Philippians 2:12-13 - So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

- now, we’re not talking about working apart from the power of God...

- Phil 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ...

- Zechariah 4:6 – not by might, nor by power, but by thy Spirit says the Lord...

- John 15:4 – Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

- but the bottom line is...many of God’s people are not as godly as they ought to be in part because they are not working at it...

- [they are working at a lot of other things...develop]

- so, what are some of the areas in which God’s people should be seeking to be more disciplined in?...

- it starts with what we traditionally refer to as the spiritual disciplines...

1. We should be disciplined in the way we pray.

Colossians 4:12 - Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.

2. We should be disciplined in the way we study the Scriptures on our own.

II Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of truth.

3. We should be disciplined in identifying the ways we need to change.

2 Peter 3:18 - but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

4. We should be disciplined in the way we handle our anger.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

5. We should be disciplined in the way we use our money.

Luke 12:15 - And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.

6. We should be disciplined in our speech.

James 1:19 - This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

7. We should be disciplined in the attention we give to our heart.

Proverbs 4:23 - Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.

8. We should be disciplined in what we set before our eyes.

Psalm 101:3 - I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me.

9. We should be disciplined in the way we serve. 

2 Timothy 4:2  - preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

10. We should be disciplined in the way we confess sin.

Proverbs 28:13 - He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

11. We should be disciplined in the way we fulfill our biblical roles.

Ephesians 6:1-4 - Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

12.  We should be disciplined in the way we work.

Colossians 3:23-24 - Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

- and when you think about it, if you are working at being disciplined in these areas and all of the other ones we could discuss, that is going to help keep you on track...its going to help you stay focused...

- there’s a lot of things you won’t be able to do simply because there won’t be any time to do it...

- now, while it is important for us to be disciplined as individuals, it is also important for us to be disciplined as a church...

- explain the mentality of wanting constructive criticism...

- the fact that people completing the surveys will be viewed not only as those making suggestions about ways to get better/but those who will be volunteering to help us get better—there are no ministry pixies who come in in the middle of the night...

- also the importance of brainstorming possible ministry initiatives – explain next steps in the process and why that is so important...

- also deal with how this can help us stay focused as a church by being disciplined for the purpose of godliness in the way we plan, and in the way we work, and in the way we expend our resources...

III. Be Convinced about the Profitability of Disciplined Godliness

A. Profitable in all things – v. 8

B. It is worth laboring for – v. 10

C. This can be done even by those who are younger – v. 12

D. The salvation of others is at stake – v. 16

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video