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About this series
The Book of 1 Timothy
Life Coaching from the Apostle Paul
If you looked up the word coach in the dictionary, you might see phrases like: “one who teaches, gives instruction, or provides special training.” The question is: who’s coaching you? And who are you coaching? In this 12-part series based in 1st Timothy, Chip dives into one of the most well-known mentor-mentee relationships in the Bible. Through this study, Chip identifies 6 pieces of godly wisdom the Apostle Paul passed on to his protégé Timothy. Don’t miss how we can apply these timeless lessons to our lives, and pass them on to others.More from this series
Well, are you guys ready to dig in, get a little more coaching from the apostle Paul? If you have your notes handy there, you can pull them out. We are going to look at chapter 4. And each time, you know, we want to get a little tip. And you can fill this in at the very top. Tip number four from the apostle Paul is this: Adversity will either make you or break you. Adversity, difficulty will either make you or break you.
Challenge, difficulty, distress, pain, betrayal, losing a job, losing your retirement, losing a mate, divorce, failure, an injury, cancer, the death of a loved one – there is no escape in a fallen world. In a fallen world there is evil and evil people. In a fallen world there’s human mistakes.
And so, the apostle Paul is going to coach this young man and us to say, “Here’s how you respond. Here’s how you keep your antennae up and recognize stuff is going to happen. Here’s where the real issues are and here’s what you need to do.”
So, with that, let’s look at chapter 4. He opens it up, you’ll notice in your notes, with a description of false teachers and where the evil comes from. “But the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times,” here’s this phrase again, he’s talking about church people, “some will fall away from,” have you put a box around this enough times yet? “…the faith,” – why? “paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons.”
And by the way, before you get like, oh, paranormal, and that’s got to be really bizarre stuff. Or it was like where I lived in Santa Cruz and we had, I mean, audio and visible manifestations of demonic activity and we had witches and warlocks. It was the most bizarre place in the world. I would suggest to you much of the teachings of the enemy are as simple as: Follow your heart. You deserve to be happy. If you do good, everything good will come your way. Very, very subtle. God wants you to be healthy and rich and prosperous all the time.
The number one means of spiritual warfare is not bizarre stuff. It’s three little letters. L-I-E. It’s lies. Lies about the future, lies about yourself, lies about success, lies about your past, lies about who you are, lies about what makes you – a person – significant. Lies about security, lies about relationships, lies about, “you know all those Democrats, you know they’re Marxists,” right? Lies about the Republicans – “they’re all racists.”
The enemy will attack through the Left, he’ll attack through the Right. He doesn’t care. He just came to kill and to steal and destroy - you. And if he can get you to buy a set of lies and go down the path of those lies that set expectations…
Lie: I’m not in love anymore. I must have married the wrong person. No, you just stopped doing the things that build intimacy and so you have drifted apart and you’re going to have to go back to the things that you did in the beginning.
“For everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the Word of God and prayer.”
And basically he goes back to, remember, he started with false teachers. He said, “This is what you need to do.” Chapter 2 was how we need to address it. Chapter 3, we need a long-haul strategy. We need to develop really godly men with character who are going to lead the Church in the future.
And then it’s like, “Now, Timmy,” I don’t know if he ever called him Timmy. You need to understand that the source of these lies isn’t just these “bad people”. They are energized by the enemy. And the enemy is energizing false teaching inside the Church and it has the appearance of godliness. They are super disciplined. They don’t eat these foods, they don’t worship on these…they don’t, they don’t, they don’t, they don’t. And here are all these things they do. And it’s some works religiosity to somehow put burdens on people instead of experience God’s grace and forgiveness.
And so, he’s just telling him, everything that God gives us is good. And if you receive it with thanksgiving, in the Word, and prayer, it sanctifies it.
And then in verse 6 through 10, he’s going to give him a prescription to be a good teacher. He says, “In pointing out these things to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of good doctrine which you have been following.”
Now, did you notice something? Because this is going to be really key. The people who were genuine followers at one point to some degree started paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons and he is going to do well by pointing out these things and he is constantly nourished on the words of faith and good doctrine.
Do you understand? I mean, just write this in your notes: You are the product of your thought life. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” How you think, you view yourself, your emotions, your perspective, your worldview is a product of your thought life. And that’s why Colossians 3 it will say, “Set on your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.” That’s why Paul in Romans 8 will say, “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” See, it’s so, so important.
Later in Romans chapter 12 when he talks about how real life-change, he doesn’t say, “Go to church, do a lot of good things, and try really had to be nice, and try hard to be disciplined, and try to be godly.” He says, “Stop allowing this world system and its lies to squeeze you into its mold. By contrast, allow your mind to be renewed, that your life and lifestyle would actually prove, experience, taste what God’s will is, that it’s good, acceptable, and perfect.
And that’s why, are you ready for this? This sounds crazy. The most important decision you’ll make every single day, multiple times a day, is what you allow in your mind. What you watch, what you listen to, how long you linger in this conversation.
And by the way, it’s not just media and it’s not just culture. It’s your friends. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of a fool will suffer harm.”
I remember a mom was kind of giving it to her fourteen, fifteen-year-old boy that was kind of letting her know that she kind of, he knows kind of what life is all about. And was hanging with some people that she, being a little older said, “You know, I see where this is going.” And I’ll never forget overhearing her. She said, “Son, show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”
So, he says, “You’ll be a good servant if you point these things out.” But then, but notice again, the content. “But stay away from worthless stories that are typical of old women. Rather, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily training is limited. “But godliness is beneficial for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
And then he gives us one of those statements, “It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.” That godliness, discipline, going into spiritual training benefits this life and the next. And then look at the little purpose clause. And then he says, “For it is for this,” becoming a godly man, “we labor and strive.” And that word labor we get our word gym or gymnastic, athletic training. It’s pushing. It’s the third set and your arms are shaking, and someone has to spot you. But you know it’s the third set, or for some of you, the fourth set or the fifth set that that’s where you’re, that’s where things are tearing down and there is where things are going to build up. He says, “For this we labor and strive, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all mankind, and especially of believers.”
And then he gives them this personal challenge. He says, “Prescribe and teach these things.” And listen, this is Paul really coaching individually. “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather,” where should he be godly? “…in your speech, in your conduct, in your love, in your faith, in your purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” In other words, you know what? You need to step out, you need to set an example, you need to be godly in what you say, you need to be godly in your relationships, godly in your thinking. A better word maybe is Christ-like. “Prescribe and teach these things,” he says.
Then he goes on in verse 13. “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of God’s Word and to exhortation and teaching.” In other words, again, it goes back to – do you understand the threads all through this chapter are: Where is your mind going? The people who drift away start paying attention to other things. They start drifting. “Oh, have you heard about this? Have you watched this?”
“But you, nourish yourself. Pay attention to the reading of God’s Word.” And then he goes on, “…the exhortation.” That means putting it into practice and exhortation takes more than one person. That’s like, “Hey, come on, together, let’s go. We are down ten, we’ve got four minutes left.” That’s exhortation. It’s, “Come on, everyone, step up, step in, let’s go.”
And then he says teaching. That’s explaining what is true and applying it to real life. “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was granted you through the prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them,” why? “so that your progress will be evident to all.” What progress? You’re becoming more like Jesus! You are more loving, you’re more patient, you have more joy, you’re more forgiving, you’re a better dad, you’re a better husband, you’re a more, pure single man. Take pains, absorb, soak them in!
I mean, “Hey, Timothy, this is what you need in order to survive the world that you’re living in.” “Pay close attention, finally,” he says, “to yourself and to the teachings;” literally, the doctrines, what’s true, “persevere in these things.”
Some of you that lift weights would love this word persevere. It’s everywhere. James 1. Remember? It says, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces perseverance and allow,” or, “let perseverance to have its outworking in your life that you might be teleos, or, “mature, right, perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” That’s this word. He says, “Persevere.” It’s hupomeno. Compound word. Hupo means “to be under.” Meno, “under pressure or stress.” Some of you actually pay to be under pressure and stress. And you usually have a partner, you put it on here, hupomeno, hupomeno, hupomeno.
And then it’s, “Come on! Come on! Come on!” Right? And you understand how it works. I’m sure most of you do. Is when you get to that third set, is what you’re doing is you are tearing the fibers of the muscle just ever so slightly. And the reason you don’t want to lift hard two days in a row the same muscles is you don’t want to tear too much. But what you do is you tear them a little bit.
Then if you’re smart you get some protein in you. And then in about twenty-four to forty-eight hours, as it heals back, guess what, that’s why your muscles get bigger. Your muscles get bigger because of resistance.
Your soul expands with godliness when you go through adversity. God uses suffering. He says, “For Christ has given us an example,” 1 Peter 2, “that we should follow that since He suffered, we should also suffer, following in His steps.” And he says, “If you suffer for doing wrong, what good is that? But when you suffer for doing what is right, this finds favor with God.” How we respond, literally, there’s little banquets and things going on in heaven and people high-fiving one another. “Did you see what that brother went through? What that sister went through? Did you see how they persevered? They wouldn’t give up, they wouldn’t give up, they wouldn’t give up?”
And what happens is just like your body gets stronger, your soul, your faith gets stronger. That’s how you build resilience, it’s how you bounce back. And we all want to be that person, but we don’t want the process, right?
I mean, I was giving a guy a hard time who had kind of a tight shirt on and some of us could tell he lifts weights. And so, as we were standing next to each other, I let him know that this is really a very, very loose shirt and I wear these loose shirts because I’m completely ripped underneath. And that would be a lie. But I’ll tell you what, if you’ve ever gone through that cycle and you get with a buddy and it’s three times a week, and they always, I don’t know why, they always want to lift at six a.m. or some stupid hour, right?
And the first three days you do it and you think, This is the dumbest idea in the world, and they shame you into it. And you do it another week and everything still really hurts. And about the third week, you look down and you go, I think a little something is happening there, right? You do it about six weeks, do it about three months, pretty soon you start looking like a different person. And what you’re doing physically is willfully taking your body through resistance and breaking it down so that it can grow back stronger.
There’s a guy in the wine country who did a weird deal every, every day he got up and he’d get a paper and he’d roll it up real tight and put a bunch of rubber bands around it and he’d walk through all his vines and just whap them, whap them, whap them, whap them.
People said, “What are you doing?” “I’m getting them stronger.” “Well, aren’t you going to hurt them?” He goes, “No, tell you what, I’m whapping them every day because we are going to have storms here there’s going – stuff happen – and every time I whack them what happens is those roots are responding and realize, If we don’t go deeper, we’re going to have a problem.” And when everybody else’s vineyards, when the stuff came through, his was strong.
Could you imagine what would happen if you would rethink adversity rather than, Oh, God, why me? Or, This is so terrible, or, life is not really fair. And you saw it more as the hand of a kind and loving God in the midst of a very fallen world of which He allows people the freedom to make decisions including you and me, some of which really hurt other people.
And some it’s just a fallen world but if you would receive that as: This is a test of my faith – hupomeno – and I’m going to get up each day and like Timothy, I’m going to take pains. I’m going to absorb myself. I’m going to renew my mind. I’m going to memorize the Scripture. I’m going to get with some guys that really want to do life.
And I will tell you what, in the midst of that adversity, we will meet you two years or five years or seven years from now and you will have people say, “I don’t even know you. You used to have a temper. I mean you used to be so negative about everything. You used to just rag on your wife all the time when we were out hanging out. You used to always be talking about this and that and, man, what happened to you?” And they’re not probably going to say something, “Oh, you’re so Christlike.” But they’ll see it.