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.
The NINTH STEP in advancing in our spiritual growth comes out of verse 16 and it is simply: DON’T DIVORCE WHAT YOU BELIEVE FROM HOW YOU BEHAVE! We read in verse 16- ” Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Is it not the case that most of us BELIEVE far more than we BEHAVE? Our life and our doctrine ought to match each other. There should be a harmony between what we think and how we act.
When my family and I moved to Canada (where we lived for 9 years), we got skating and hockey lessons for our ten-year-old son before we moved there. Someone has defined hockey as “a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept!” People are keeping score on our lives — and we must behave ourselves for the sake of the gospel!
1. In what ways do we divorce what we believe from how we behave? What verses do you find which teach that our behavior is critical to our witness?
2. Have you recently found yourself apologizing for your failure in behavior before others? Perhaps a big part of our apologetics ought to be our apologizing when our conduct does not match our creeds!