This sermon on 1 Timothy 6:11-16 was preached on June 3, 2018 at Niddrie Community Church. You can listen to it here (34 min.), or read the manuscript below.
Flee sin. Have nothing to do with the ways of the false teachers.
Don’t love what they love.
Don’t think what they think.
Don’t do what they do.
Fight the good fight. Fight against the false teachers and fight for Christ’s truth and Christ’s way. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Take hold of the eternal life to which you’ve been called. Keep the command. Keep your commission as a minister of Christ Jesus, without stain or reproach.
Fight. Fight well. Fight for the honor of Christ and for the sake of his Bride.
This has been Paul’s exhortation to Timothy throughout this letter. We’ve heard it week in and week out.
And now that we come to the last two weeks of our study of 1 Timothy, Paul gives us 8 reasons for his charge to Timothy to fight the good fight.
Let’s look at those 8 reasons together now.
First Reason: Timothy is a Man of God.
Look at verse 11. What does Paul call Timothy? He calls him a “man of God”.
This is the title God gave to Moses, to King David, and to Elijah. These were men who stood apart in their high office and high service to God and Israel.
They were men of God.
Timothy is Paul’s representative in Ephesus. He’s the highest officer in the church, putting her in order.
The height of his office as a man of God requires Timothy to keep fighting against the false teachers and for Christ Jesus.
Brethren, know that we too have been set apart to serve God. He owns us. We are his possessions, anointed by his Spirit to obey him and honor him.
As a church, we too must stay in the fight.
Second Reason: This Fight is a Good Fight.
There are plenty of bad fights in the world, but this one is good.
It’s a fight for truth, goodness, and beauty in the Bride of Christ, for the honor of King Jesus.
It’s a fight Timothy was brought into by the grace of God. Look at verse 12. Paul says he was called to it.
Timothy, like all of us, was an enemy of Christ. He was dead in sin, a slave to it. He would not and could not enter Christ’s service.
He wasn’t a minister of Christ. Like all non-Christians, he was a servant of Satan.
But Christ called this wretch named Timothy to fight for him.
He did this with the same powerful voice that brought forth stars out of nothing, that brought Lazarus out of the tomb, that holds all molecules in their place.
Every time we evangelize, we call unbelievers to repent and believe the gospel and follow Jesus, to flee destruction and run to life. And almost everyone refuses us.
God’s call to the sinner is not like our call to the sinner. Our call is weak. It doesn’t produce anything. God’s call is powerful and effective.
God’s call always causes the called to respond obediently. God’s call effectively produces faith and obedience.
It’s grace that Timothy’s in this fight, because he was called to it by God.
And look at verse 12 again. The end of the fight isn’t defeat. This isn’t a tragic fight. This fight that Timothy is in, and that we as a church are in, is a fight with eternal life as the prize.
This is a good fight.
Third Reason: Timothy’s Made a Good Confession.
The good confession Timothy has made is reason for him to stay the course, fleeing sin and fighting for the cause of righteousness.
He made a good confession before many witnesses at his baptism.
He made a good confession before many witnesses at his ordination to the ministry.
He’s made a good confession with years of faithful labor.
Timothy has made a good confession that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.
And this good confession he has made binds him to continue to fight the good fight.
Brethren, know that our past faithfulness to Jesus does not guarantee our future faithfulness to Jesus. But it does make future faithfulness all the more important.
When a minister gives up the fight and chooses sin, when a man who has preached hundreds of faithful sermons praising the name of Christ, pointing people to him for salvation…
when he has preached sin and righteousness, damnation and glory…
when he led a church well for years, and then falls…
There is scandal, rage, and disgust.
The many men and women blessed by his years of service feel betrayed like a knife to the spine.
The truth that he preached is mocked. The purity of Christ’s Bride appears soiled.
Good confessions require more good confessions. They make the future all the more important.
Lord willing, we will have baptisms next month. The baptized will make a good confession in word and deed before us. That confession binds them to walk in obedience and fight the good fight.
If you’re here tonight and your head is crowned with grey glory, you’ve probably been following Christ faithfully for more years than I’ve been alive. That is an enduring good confession. And that means there is a heavier burden on you to keep fighting. The members of this church need you to continue well.
If you’re here tonight and you’ve taught the Bible, know that every time we teach, we increase the weight on our shoulders to not falter. We must continue to make a good confession.
We must fight the good fight.
Fourth Reason: Paul is Giving an Order.
Under Christ, Paul is a four-star General. And this command he gives to Timothy is no life advice. It’s no suggestion to chew on and consider. It’s an order, to be obeyed fully and without distraction.
When we are confronted with commands in the Bible, who we understand to be in charge is revealed.
Do you think you’re in charge?
“Well, I can’t believe that God would…”
“I just don’t like that…”
“But, just this once…”
“Did God really say…?”
“You know, that was a long time ago. Cultures change. We’ve progressed. We have iPhones and we respect women enough to kill them before they take a breath.”
Commands in Scripture are non-negotiable because, like Timothy, we are not in charge. We’re not generals in this army. Christ is the King, the apostles are his generals, and we have been given clear commands in the Bible on what to believe and what to do.
This church’s order from on high is to fight the good fight.
Fifth Reason: Timothy has Guaranteed Security in God.
Faithfulness in ministry and in the Christian life can be hard when opposition is hot. But our confidence is in the Lord.
These false teachers in Ephesus sure weren’t going down without a tussle. They were going to keep making Timothy’s life hard.
Though Hymenaeus and Alexander and the lot are no longer around, the world still is, and you’d better believe it’s looking to get a good kidney punch in on ministers in the church.
You’d better believe the Devil is always looking to shoot some poison-tipped, fiery arrows.
Oh, Mr. Minister, you want to preach the gospel? You want to talk about sin? You want to tell folks that Jesus is the only way to be saved from hell? And you want to do that with a good conscience?
Well, Mr. Minister, the sun’s out in Scotland, and have you seen her body? Oh, not interested? Doing the whole, bounce the eyes thing, huh? Fine, we’ll just find a way to fine you. If that doesn’t work, we’ll say you’re guilty of hate speech.
Oh, Christian Dad and Mom, y’all want to discipline your kids the way God tells you to? Well, we’ll call that assault and make you a criminal.
We’ll ridicule and mock you. We’ll reject you and hate you.
So why not just keep your head down? Why not give into the pressure? Why not compromise a little?
Call it becoming all things to all men, or something hip and vaguely Biblical like that. Tell yourself it’s a healthy stress relief. Whatever makes you feel better about it, just change course. Stop fighting the good fight according to Christ’s Word.
That’s not an option for Timothy. He can’t touch compromise. Look at verse 13.
Paul charges Timothy in the presence of God himself. And God is just a bigger deal than any opponent Timothy is going to face.
God is the giver of life to all things. He made it all. He is the Creator and Sustainer of everyone and everything. He’s the Maker and the Owner.
So, if we’re on God’s side, according to God’s Word, what in the world do we have to fear? If the Potter has no reason to fear the clay, why would the Potter’s people waver in the face of his foes?
We don’t surrender. We fight the good fight.
Sixth Reason: Christ has set the Bar.
Look back at verse 13. Paul writes, “Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate…”
This is Paul’s point: Timothy should press on as a faithful minister of Christ because Timothy should follow in the footsteps of his Master.
Nobody, not Paul, not Timothy, certainly none of us, has faced the intensity of opposition that Jesus faced.
But even before Pontius Pilate, even as the threat of crucifixion hung in the air, Jesus testified the good confession. He remained perfectly steadfast in faith and obedience to God. He preached the truth and did the will of his Father, walking like a sheep to the slaughter.
Listen to what Jesus confessed with his mouth in John 18:
Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
With his mouth, Jesus confessed that he is Savior and King.
Now, what did we do at the end of our morning meeting? We ate the Lord’s Supper together. In that meal, we see what Jesus confessed in action before Pilate. He fulfilled prophecy and was silent. He went to the cross. He was faithful to his commission, obedient to the point of death, in our place, for our sin.
This was the good confession of Jesus.
Timothy was to remember the example of his King and be faithful to the end. Let us do likewise.
Seventh Reason: Jesus is Returning Soon.
Timothy is to keep the commandment, he’s to carry out his duty as a minister of Christ, because Jesus is coming back.
Paul reminds Timothy of this in verse 14: “the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time.”
Sure hope always motivates the soldier to fight with courage and valor.
Timothy was to bank his whole life on the fact that Jesus is coming back. When he does, all his enemies, all those who seemed to be doing great for themselves, will be thrown into hell.
All of Timothy’s faithful labors will be proven to not have been in vain.
Timothy needed this reminder, and so do we.
Have you forgotten that Jesus is coming back? All of us believe this doctrine. But have you forgotten it?
Is Christ’s return the hope that burns bright within you when the darkness seems to be closing in? Is the Return of the King the future glory that keeps you from sin today? Do you wisely fear that he will come back, and your proverbial pants will be at your ankles?
He’s coming back. Literally, actually coming back.
That’s exactly why Timothy should take hold of the eternal life to which he was called. That’s why he should fight the good fight.
And that’s why we should do the same. He is coming back in victory.
Eighth Reason: It’s all for the Glory of God.
Look at verse 16. Timothy, fight the good fight, be done with sin and walk in godliness, for to God alone be honor and eternal dominion. Amen!
Thinking of the Return of the King leads Paul to break out in praise of his all-glorious God. The glory of God is the foundational motivation for Timothy to be a faithful minister. It’s our deepest motivation to be faithful Christians.
For the glory of the worthy, all-glorious God, we flee sin, we flee lies and disobedience, we run to truth and godliness.
Verses 15-16 read, “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.”
Brethren, who is our God?
Our God is the blessed and only Sovereign.
Our God is in control of all things.
Every detail of everything, whether we’re talking about every single drop of rain in Scotland, or how many kernels of corn grow on a single cob in Nebraska…
the way meat makes taste buds smile, and Iron Bru makes them want Coca-Cola…
how much your kid weighed at birth, whether your baby was hairy or bald, if your child said mama or dada first…
Scotland rugby beating England and Scotland football missing the World Cup…
Satan’s fall from heaven, torturing of Job, and enticing of King David…
Stalin’s rise to power, Hitler’s Holocaust, and Churchill’s defiance…
the fact that you believe the gospel and my brother in law doesn’t…
You name it, it happens according to the Sovereign will of God established before time.
Ephesians 1:11 says, “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will”
That is OUR GOD.
Our God is the King of kings and Lord of lords. What do Donald Trump, Theresa May, Nikola Sturgeon, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and the Ayatollah in Iran all have in common? God is their Boss.
God is in charge, no matter where we go. From the simplest in Scotland’s schemes to the most powerful on the world stage, all are answerable to him. All must give account to him.
No one can escape his presence and authority.
That is OUR GOD.
Our God alone possesses immortality. While creatures receive life, God is life itself. Without beginning or end, he is the fountain of life from whom all Christians drink in faith.
That is OUR GOD.
Our God dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. If man is not fit to even look upon the sun, let alone draw near to her, how much less is he fit to look upon God in all his glory?
That is OUR GOD.
He is all-glorious God.
Timothy was to fight as a faithful minister of Christ for the glory of God. What are we doing here? Why will we fight to the end? Why will we fight sin and carry out our God-given duties until we die?
For the glory of OUR GREAT GOD.
To God be all honor and eternal dominion!
Timothy was to be a faithful minister of Christ. He was to oppose the false teachers and all their ways. He was to fight the good fight.
Church, we too must fight on. Against the flesh, the world, and the Devil. Fighting for Christ.
As Paul comes to close this letter, he’s given 8 reasons to press on in the fight.
- Timothy is a man of God.
- This fight is a good fight.
- Timothy has made a good confession before many witnesses.
- Paul is giving him an order.
- Timothy has guaranteed security in God.
- Jesus made the good confession before Pilate, setting the example for Timothy.
- Jesus is King and coming back soon.
- And it’s all for the glory of the all-glorious God.
As this sermon comes to a close, let me speak directly to you if you are not a Christian. If you don’t trust and follow Jesus as your King and Savior, if you’re doing your thing, the Bible calls you an enemy of God.
There is no neutrality in God’s world. You are either honoring him, or not.
Do you realize how foolish it is to be against this God, the Sovereign God who dwells in unapproachable light?
Christ has come, and he will come again. When he comes again, it will be too late for you to be saved.
Today you have heard the word of the Lord. Today you have heard that Christ has died for all who would trust him. He has risen that they might have peace with God, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. Today is the day that you must turn away from your rebellion against God and call out to Jesus to be saved.
Stop fighting the fight of fools. Join us now in fighting the good fight.
You may not get tomorrow. There will be a too late.