In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” Dr. Allan McKechnie and I 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)
The FIFTH STEP we see in this passage is simply: WORK HARD IN YOUR LIFE OF FAITH IN THE LORD (v. 10)
The SIXTH STEP Paul gives us here is BOLDLY PROCLAIM THE TRUTH WITH YOUR WORDS AND LIFE (vv. 11-12)
The SEVENTH STEP which helps us to become spiritual is DEVOTE YOURSELF TO THE WORD OF GOD AND THE USE OF YOUR GIFT (vv. 13-14)
The EIGHTH STEP in moving on in our spirituality comes out of verse 15 where we are told to BE DILIGENT IN WHOLLY COMMITTING YOURSELF TO YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL GROWTH. That verse reads: “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.” The matters about which Paul has been speaking involve turning away from foolish things, investing in God-honoring issues, and showing by our behavior that Christ is the central focus of our lives.
Several observations occur to me in this verse:
1. One’s diligence can be measured! The Christian life is not happenstance or haphazard or mystical. It involves moving on in godliness, taking specific steps to become more like Christ!
2. Giving oneself wholly to spiritual issues means there are no closed rooms to God’s invasive searching. He has free reign to probe, look in our closets and under our beds, to encourage us to whole-hearted commitment to His truth!
3. This godly diligence, this whole-self dedication, is not just for our individual benefit! We should strive to live like Christ because others are watching!
1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (one being lousy and 10 being perfection), how would you gauge your spiritual commitment to the things of Christ?
2. Are you bold enough to ask one of your close friends this question: “Do you see me making progress in my Christian life?”