In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” Dr. Allan McKechnie andI have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians. One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ. This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION. The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”
I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ. Let’s look at that passage and continue investigating those ten steps.
I Timothy 4 says,
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
The FIRST STEP we saw in this text was simply: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)
The SECOND STEP we notice is: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL LIFE (v. 7)
The THIRD STEP we see is: INVEST IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT (v. 8)
The FOURTH STEP here in this text is: REST ON WHAT IS WORTHY OF YOUR TRUST (v. 9)
Paul uses this same expression “this is a trustworthy saying” five times in his pastoral epistles.
In I Timothy 1:15 he writes, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst.”
In I Timothy 3:1 he writes, “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.”
In 2 Timothy 2:11 Paul declares: “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him.”
Paul writes in Titus 3:8, “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”
We also have our text, I Timothy 4:9 where he says, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.” Commentators I’ve checked suggest that this use of “this is a trustworthy saying” refers back to what he has previously said. If they are right, then Paul’s point seems to be that investing our time and energies into training ourselves to be godly is a goal completely worthy of our trust. If I am resting on this trustworthy saying, then I will be doing something about growing in Christ!
1. Why do Christians often look at the Christian life as a “let go and let God” kind of proposition?
2. What other NT texts can you think of that encourage the believer to roll up his sleeves and get to work on his own Christian life?