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)
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)
Paul says to Timothy, “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.” We live in a culture that, in many ways, doesn’t tolerate commands and doesn’t seem eager to be taught! Certainly Paul is thinking of Timothy’s commanding and teaching in a Christian context, but a church today that knows what it believes and tries to influence surrounding culture is irritating and unacceptable to many outside its walls.
But how ought we to respond to such criticism or disregard? Paul’s challenge to Timothy is to lead by example. In five areas Timothy is to be a model to follow: in SPEECH, CONDUCT, LOVE, FAITH, and PURITY.
1. Concerning our SPEECH, does the world hear something different when you and I talk, converse, chat, argue, seek to persuade?
2. Concerning our CONDUCT, does our behavior back up our beliefs — or cause those who know us to think to themselves “hypocrite!”?
3. Concerning our LOVE, too often we believers become merely irritated with our “post-Christian” culture, instead of seeking to love its members into the kingdom of God. Whose names can you list right now that you are strategically attempting to love into the family of God?
4. Concerning our FAITH, does our cultural pessimism overshadow our hope in God, who desires all men to come to the truth?
5. Concerning our PURITY, does our world see our personal holiness as more than puritanical, but as an expression of our gratitude to God? How might we become more pure?