Study 12 ADVICE TO A MAN OF GOD
PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO TIMOTHY
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: 1 Timothy 6:1-21
All the teaching in this section of scripture centres around the advice Paul gives to Timothy in verses 11 and 12, where he says, “But you, man of God, flee… pursue… fight…” The title ”man of God” is one that is frequently used in the Old Testament, and it was applied to Moses (Deuteronomy 33:1); Samuel (1 Samuel 9:6); David (2 Chronicles 8:14); Elijah (1 Kings 17:24); and Elisha (2 Kings 4:9), but it is a description that fits every Christian, for as Christians we are God’s men and God’s women.
1. The command to FLEE: or, the Vices from which we must flee.
The Apostle speaks of this in the first part of verse 11, and what he means is that there are certain things from which we, as Christians, must run. The word ‘flee’ literally means ‘be ever fleeing’; we must never be caught by these things. What things? They are indicated in verses 4-10, and for the purpose of this study we shall simply lift out a few phrases and centre our thoughts upon them.
- (1) Conceit. Notice the words in verse 4, “he is conceited”. This means, quite literally, ‘he is wrapped up in smoke’; that is, he is inflated with his own importance. Men of God must flee from these things.
- (2) Impurity. Verse 5 speaks of “men of corrupt mind”; or, as the word really means, ’debased minds’, or ‘wicked hearts’ - look up Jeremiah 17:9. What does God desire above everything else? - look up Psalm 51:6 and see - and for the most terrible and vivid illustration of the way in which we are to run from impurity turn to Genesis 39: 7-13, and prayerfully read it. Any entertaining of impurity is sure to bring a downfall – therefore flee from it!
- (3) A discontented spirit. Verses 6-8 warn us about this, and if it is questioned as to whether this is a vice let us say that it is certainly not a virtue. Some Christians are always complaining; things are never right! How dishonouring this is to the Lord! - but it is possible to learn the way of deliverance and to come to the place of complete victory in and over our circumstances - look up Philippians 4:11-12.
- (4) Foolish and harmful desires. This phrase in verse 9 refers to any uncontrolled desire or passion, or any ambition that is not subjected to the control of the Holy Spirit. In this case it refers to the lust for riches - but people lust after other things as well. Notice the dreadful result of constantly entertaining desires that are not yielded to the Lord and in accordance with His will (end of verse 9).
- (5) The love of money. Money is not wrong in itself, but it is the inordinate love of it that is wrong. These are days in which there is a craze for getting, especially for getting something for nothing.
These are some of the things from which we must run - Proverbs 18:10!
2. The call to PURSUE: or, the Virtues we must pursue.
These are all contained in verse 11; look at them carefully:-
- (1) Righteousness. This means being right in our relationships with men. Moffat translates the word ‘integrity’ - a great word indeed! It is a tragic thing that often the world sees a lack of honesty in Christians. We are to be men and women who at all costs follow after integrity.
- (2) Godliness. J.B. Phillips says that the meaning of this word is ”to be Christ-like”. Could we have a greater desire than to be like Jesus?
- (3) Faith. The meaning of this word is ’fidelity’, ’reliability’ or ‘dependability’. Earthly employers are always looking for men upon whom they can depend. God also is looking for men and women in whom He can trust - see how the second part of Isaiah 66:2 reads.
- (4) Love. The Apostle says “Make it your all-out ambition to be loving at all times.” Why is it that Christians are often unloving and unkind? Think about the words of the Lord Jesus recorded in John 13:34-35.
- (5) Endurance. The thought here is of endurance in trials. Often when the testings and trials of life come we go under, but we are to seek at all costs to endure at such times. Why? Because of Romans 8:28. All trials are for a purpose, and we may endure in the fiercest testings because of 2 Corinthians 9:8 and 12:9.
- (6) Gentleness. The Apostle says, ”Be gentle, gracious and kind.”
3. The challenge to FIGHT: or, the Victories for which we must fight.
The Apostle brings this before us in verse 12. Christians are to be fighters; they are engaged in a stern warfare against a powerful enemy, but they have a wonderful and a victorious Captain (Hebrews 2:10). What are the victories for which we are to fight? Three are indicated here:-
- (1) For the advancement of the Gospel. This is mentioned in verse 12, which reads, “Fight the good fight of the faith”; it refers to a disciplined struggle. All the enemies of the Lord are fighting to advance their causes. Is it not time that we who are serving under such a great Captain should fight for “the faith“, in this ”good” fight? What a privilege to be His soldier, but what a responsibility!
- (2) For the gaining of the reward. Undoubtedly, when the Apostle says in verse 12, ”Take hold of the eternal life”, he is thinking of the Grecian games, where the runner is on the stretch to gain the prize. We shall all come to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and this should be constantly in our thoughts as we serve and as we fight, so that we may gain …and not lose… (1 Corinthians 3:9-16).
- (3) For the honouring of the Saviour. Look at verses 12-14. Jesus, in the face of tremendous odds at His trial, fought victoriously and brought glory to God; and in the same way, as we fight for that which is right, seeking the advancement of His kingdom, we shall bring honour to Him.
Here, then, is the Apostle’s advice to a man of God - to you and to me; but it is not only good advice, it is good news, for what we are strongly urged to do here is made possible through Christ - look up Philippians 4:13, and by the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ – look up Philippians 1:19.