Living Holy for God

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:11-16)

When Paul wanted to encourage Timothy to live his life as a child of God, he did that by appealing to Timothy’s understanding of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Most of us have at least someone in our lives who encourages us in some way. Some people are good encouragers and most of us need encouragement from time to time. Timothy was one who needed encouragement. He was a man who would have understood what it meant to stand alone. He was standing against those who were teaching false doctrines and leading many away from the church.

Timothy had a difficult ministry. He was young, inexperienced, and was tasked by God to stand when many around him were falling for a more palatable, popular, appealing to the flesh message. Because of the challenges that Timothy faced, Paul reminded him of a few things, such as:

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands (2 Timothy 1:6)

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God (2 Timothy 1:8)

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:13-14)

Paul was saying, “Timothy, don’t give up on what God has called you to. God has given you a spirit of power and love, remember the gift of God, don’t be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, the Holy Spirit is in you, follow sound words.” These are words given to a man who may have been wavering in his will to go on in the ministry. Paul was appealing to him to stay the course, don’t give up, don’t fall away.

We need people like Paul in our lives when things get tough. We need solid reminders that point us to God. And notice that this is what Paul does. Real encouragement for the believer is words that help us refocus on why we are here and who we are to serve. I am talking about, and Paul is practicing, Christian encouragement.

Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 3:18)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

This encouragement is telling one another about what God has done or what God will do! Christian encouragement is you and me, us helping each other to put away all of the junk that fills our minds and move to a place of rightly focusing on our great God and Savior. This is what Paul does for Timothy. He does not just go about telling Timothy how great he is or how he is such a good preacher and pastor. No, Timothy doesn’t need that, that is not what will help Timothy to remain faithful. No, what Timothy needed was to be reminded of truth about God. This is what we need too! We need to be encouraged in the Lord.

In Ephesians 6 Paul mentions that he is sending a man named Tychicus to them so that Tychicus could tell the church people all that God had been doing in Paul’s life. Again, encouragement would be, “Look at how God is at work!” That is what should encourage a Christian.

Paul is trying to help Timothy focus on the Lord when his life seemed hard. Here is what he said:

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time (1 Timothy 6:13-15a)

Paul says, “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things.” It is like, “Timothy, yes, I am charging you to keep God’s commands, yes it is me, simply a man, Paul, giving you this charge to keep God’s commands, but though it is just me doing this, it is not just me who hears it and who wants this for you. It is God who hears this charge, it is God who wants this for you, it is God who created you for this. Yes, it is my charge to you, but it is what God wants for you. The great God who has given life to all things desires this for you.”

It is really a small thing that Paul says this, but the gravity of the statement comes in when God’s name is invoked, when it is understood that God Himself is the one bringing such a charge. Who is this God? The giver of all of life. He is the creator of all and yet He cares about Timothy and Timothy’s life and work. This is really amazing, isn’t it? In human terms, I mean we think we are busy, right? I am a busy person and so are you, we all have things to do. But God, He has made everything, and yet He is not too busy to care about what we do. He has created life and He sustains life.

In Acts 17:28 we read, “In him we live and move and have our being.” “This all important, life sustaining God cares for you, Timothy, cares about what you do.” And this is true for us as well. Let’s not think that God is so busy sustaining all things that He overlooks us and our circumstances and our work. If He cares for even the sparrow that falls to the ground, and He does, then surely He cares for you.

And so Paul’s appeal to Timothy is also a reminder that God cares, it matters to God that Timothy keep the commands given to him.

Paul not only appeals to God’s concern for Timothy, but also Christ’s. He says, “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession.”

What is this good confession that Jesus made before Pontius Pilate? We read of it in John 18.

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:33-37)

Jesus with these words was making a confession that He was the Messiah. He knew this confession would cost Him His life, but He made it. He didn’t back down in the face of danger, He didn’t shy away, He spoke the truth at great cost. He would soon after these words be beaten, ridiculed, and crucified.

Paul is again strengthening his appeal to Timothy, saying, “It is God who created you and Christ who died for you, these are my witnesses. It is because of them that I encourage you, it is for their sake that I say, ‘keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach’.”

Keep what commandment? Which commandment? All of them. I think we can understand this as saying, “Keep God’s Word.” Keep God’s Word unstained and free from reproach. Live your life so that it reflects one who not only states a belief in God’s Word but lives it. Proclaim the Word, protect the Word, keep the Word. This has been a theme in this book.

18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith (1 Timothy 1:18-19)

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. (1 Timothy 4:6)

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)

Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” (1 Timothy 6:20)

And in 2 Timothy the theme continues:

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:13-14)

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:15-18)

This is a serious matter for every Christian. Are we taking seriously the charge to live out God’s Word in our lives?

He saved us so that we will live for Him. And when we don’t live that way we bring reproach and stain to His name in the eyes of people around us.

And how long are we to live for Him in this life? Until retirement, until the kids are grown, until no one is watching? No, “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time.” In other words, there is never to be a time where we stop living for Him, stop living according to His Word. Until the Lord returns, until Jesus appears, we are to live out His Word.

If we are going to do this, again, we need to encourage one another! We need to be like Paul in Timothy’s life. And you know, the time is quickly coming when we will not be living as we are today. Jesus is coming back and He is coming back for all who have believed.

1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

And so when we read that we are to do something until Jesus returns, we need to know that His return is imminent. It is real and it will be soon. This means our time is short for the kind of obedience we are called to.

yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:14)

This tells me that we ought to be getting to what we are going to do because our time is short, short like a mist that appears and quickly vanishes. These words are not to be discouraging but encouraging. For when the mist disappears, when our lives here are over, we will be with our Savior, with Him forever! When He comes we are done here, we will be finally home.

I want to ask you this morning: where are you with Christ? What I mean is, do you really know Him, do you really want to live for Him? Do you recognize Him as worthy of all of your worship and your admiration? Do you see Him as the perfect one who loves you? Do you want to live for Him? I am not asking you if you are perfect, because I know you are not, I am simply asking do you want to live for Him? Do you want to obey Him, do you want to represent Him in this world?

If you do then I say, praise God, go on fighting the good fight, go on seeking Him with your whole heart.

If you don’t really want to live for Him then I’d ask you to examine your heart and honestly question whether you are His. Have you ever really repented of your sins and turned by faith to Him for salvation? If not, then today is the day of salvation, you can repent of your sins, meaning agree with God over your sin and then actively turn from them and believe that He has died for you, taking your place in death so that you can live for Him.

If you don’t understand what salvation means or would like to talk with someone, then I want you to know there are people all around you this morning who would love to talk with you about salvation. Reach out to someone today and learn more about Jesus and what He has done to save many from their sins.

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time (1 Timothy 6:13-15a)