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!
The TENTH STEP in pursuing spirituality also comes from verse 16 and it is this: DON’T GIVE UP FOR YOUR SAKE OR THE SAKE OF OTHERS! Verse 16 says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
There are so many forces which challenge the perseverance of the believer. The tragedies of life, the questions raised by unbelievers, the pain of having our gospel witness rejected, the disappointments when God doesn’t behave the way we would like Him to — all of these can combine their forces to scream one message to us: “GIVE UP!”
On October 29, 1941, United Kingdom (Great Britain) Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Harrow School to to hear the traditional songs he had sung there as a youth, as well as to speak to the students. This became one of his most quoted speeches, due to distortions that evolved about what he actually said.
The myth is that Churchill stood before the students and said, “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give in. Never give in. Never give in. Never give in.” Then he sat down. In reality, he made a complete speech that included words similar to what are often quoted. Also, some believe he said, “Never give up.” That too is incorrect. At any rate, the message of NEVER GIVE UP needs to be heard and heeded by followers of Jesus!
1. Scripture says that “no man lives to himself and no man dies to himself.” We affect each other by the way we live or don’t live. List several people that your life impacts either positively or negatively.
2. The Ten Steps that we have seen here in I Timothy 4 are not magic or instant. They require commitment, steadfastness, determination, and a desire to not stay the same! How is status quo spirituality overcome by the individual believer?