These Things Command and Teach   
1 Tim 4:6-11
By Paul Robison

 When it was built for an international exposition in the last century, the structure was called monstrous by the citizens of the city, who demanded it be torn down as soon as the exposition was over.  Yet from the moment its architect first conceived it, he took pride in it and loyally defended it from those who wished to destroy it.  He knew it was destined for greatness.  Today it is one of the architectural wonders of the modern world and stands as the primary landmark of Paris, France.  The architect, of course, was Alexandre Gustave Eiffel.  His famous tower was built in 1889.  In a greater way, we are struck by Jesus' loyalty to another structure--the church--which he entrusted to an unlikely band of disciples, whom He defended, prayed for, and prepared to spread the gospel.  To outsiders, church members must seem like incapable blunderers.  But Jesus, the architect of the church, knows this group is destined for greatness when He returns” (Berstecher).  In the letter of 1 Timothy, we discover that the church in Ephesus has been in chaos.  Paul hopes to come soon to help the church get back on its feet, but until he can arrive, he writes this letter to help Timothy and the members there know how to conduct themselves and to carry on.  He gives instructions about avoiding the heretics, former church leaders who have shipwrecked their faith, about salvation (which is for all and not just for those with special knowledge), about the peaceful, evangelistic, and spiritual lifestyle that members should display, about good church leadership (providing qualifications for elders and deacons), about essential truths that can't be compromised (Jesus' incarnation, His resurrection, His ascension, His Gospel, His church, and His glorification), and about the false teachings of the heretics (who were forbidding marriage and eating certain foods).  The rest of the letter has more instructions on how Timothy and members should conduct themselves.  In fact, the next section of the letter has some advice specifically for Timothy as an evangelist.  The advice given, however, could be made applicable for all Christians.  So let's look at numerous commands that start in 1 Timothy 4:6.
“If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ.”  So the first command for all of us would be: instruct members!  Jesus said in John 6:45: “It is written in the prophets: 'And they all be taught by God.'  Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”  Then in Acts 4:1-2, we read: “Now as they [the apostles] spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”  These same Jews later forbid the apostles to speak and to teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18).  In Acts 18:11, the text says that Paul “continued there [that is Corinth] a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”  Hopefully, these passages are sufficient to show that Christianity is religion base on historical events and Christ's teachings.  Those events and teachings must be taught.  In the final words before His ascension, Jesus said that His disciples were to teach others the Gospel and then to continue to teach them everything that He had commanded them (Matthew 28:18-20).  Whenever we remind one another of Jesus' commands, we are following Paul's advice to Timothy: Instruct members!
The next command could be: Eat properly (for your spiritual health)!  Notice how Timothy was admonished to nourish himself spiritually on words of the faith and of the good doctrine.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”  Then Jesus challenged the Jews with these words in John 6:57-58: “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.  This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead.  He who eats this bread will live forever.”  Most all of us were taught in schools to eat balanced meals, and the media talks often about various food items that can be good for our health.  If eating properly is advantageous on the physical level, Jesus has showed us that feeding on His teachings is absolutely necessary for our spiritual health!  Ever notice how lots of junk food is distributed in pretty packaging?  And have you also noticed how there are many false teachers today who will give spiritual junk food wrapped up in pretty packaging?  “Order these DVDs today!”  Don't be deceived by this spiritual junk food!  Open up your own New Testament, and feed on the inspired words of Jesus and the apostles!  Spiritually speaking, eat properly!
The next command is this: Carefully obey!  Notice what Paul wrote at the end of verse 6: “Nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”  Paul is complimenting Timothy here and encouraging him to continue to put into practice the teaching of Christ and His apostles.  We must not only listen to Jesus' teachings, we must also carefully obey and put them into practice!  Would you like to be blessed?  Then notice James advice to us in 1:22-25: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”  James promises that we will be blessed if we will put God's word into practice.  Carefully obey!
The next command is: Reject fables!  Notice the first part of verse 7: “But reject profane [or unholy] and old wives' fables!”  These fables refer to the heretics' false teaching.  Look back at chapter 1:3 where Paul gets right down to business and orders Timothy to tell members not to heed fables and endless genealogies which cause disputes.  Look now at 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” Sadly, we have many modern fables: inheriting Adam's sin, one man is leader over all the churches, God determines who will be saved or lost, the Rapture, Jesus will reign for 1000 years in Jerusalem, Jesus is an angel, modern day revelations are necessary, miracle-workers can restore health, all sexual behaviors are acceptable, and God wants to make you rich!  Now that's just ten modern fables, and there are many, many more.  We must heed the New Testament, which reveals the truth, and reject the false teachings or fables which so many modern religious leaders have fabricated.  One commentator correctly observed that fables must be rejected, and there can be no compromise (Guthrie).  Reject fables!
The next command is: Exercise yourself (towards godliness).  Notice verses 7-8: “But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.  For bodily exercise profits little, but godliness is profitable for all things.”  Physical exercise can be helpful for us, but Paul notes how spiritual exercise is much more profitable.  Look at 2 Peter 2:14: “They [the false teachers] have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.”  The word “trained” in this passage is the same as “exercise” found in 1 Timothy.  Exercise, train, grow, or be self-disciplined towards godliness.  One commentator rightly noted that true Christianity is not physical deprivation from marriage or certain foods, as the heretics here in Ephesus were teaching (see verses 1-5), but it is a renewed submission to the Holy Spirit's guidance (Kelly).  Each day at each fork in the road, we strive to follow the way that is more God-like and more Christ-like. “More purity give me, more strength to overcome, more freedom from earth-stains, more longings for home.  More fit for the kingdom, more useful I'd be, more blessed and holy, more Savior, like Thee” (Bliss).  Exercise yourself towards godliness!
The next command is this: Live abundantly!  Notice how Paul tells Timothy that “godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is.”  Godliness can be profitable for us right now in this world.  This sounds much like Jesus' response to Peter in Mark 10:29: “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sister or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions [Jesus was a realist]--and in the age to come, eternal life.”  Notice carefully here that Jesus is not promising to make us rich in this life.  No, He is promising something far better.  He states that if we will love Him supremely and put Him above all of our other earthly relationships and securities, then He will enrich our lives!  God allowed me the privilege once for working in Ghana, Africa for three weeks.  I met some wonderful Christians there, who we would not consider rich financially, but their lives had been enriched by Jesus, and you could see this in their smiles, in their eyes, in their gestures of care, in their devoted prayers, and in their exuberant singing (wow, the vibrations of their joyful voices made the rafters tremble).  Jesus said in John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  This abundant enrichment caused the early Christians to rejoice when they were beaten, to sing at midnight when they were imprisoned, and to pray for their persecutors when they were tortured!  All Christians here in this audience can tell any of you who are not Christians that Jesus has enriched their lives!  They are better people because of Him.  Only with Jesus can you live abundantly!
The next command is: Remember eternity!  Note verse last part of verse 8: “For bodily exercise profits little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  There is going to be a life which is to come.  That life will be immortal and eternal.  Jesus said in Matthew 25:46: “These will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  Jesus never lied at all in His life.  How could Jesus say: “I am the truth” (john 14:6) and “I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:36), and then teach falsehoods?  Jesus is very clear that there will be two eternal destinies, one of anguish for those who are unsaved and have not served Him, and one of joy for those who are saved and have served Him.  Isn't reward a great motivator—the graduation, the paycheck, the trophy, the plaque recognizing your service?  But those rewards will be petty compared to the two eternal rewards that Jesus clearly spells out for us.  Look by faith beyond this life!  This life is only a stepping stone. Remember eternity!
The next command is: Suffer reproach!  Look at verse 10: “For to this end, we both labor and suffer reproach”.  The word “labor” has strenuous toil, weariness, and exhaustion associated with it.  One commentator rightly observed: “The race of godliness requires every ounce of energy a man possesses” (Guthrie).  But Paul says that Christians not only labor but they also suffer reproach.  This is very natural.  Just as oil and water and light and darkness don't mix, so those who pursue wickedness and those who pursue godliness remain separated and distinct.  The wicked of Jesus' day, mocked Him, beat Him, crucified Him, shamed Him, and ridiculed Him.  If our Master suffered reproach, His disciples must expect the same treatment by the wicked of our day.  Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12 this reality: “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”  If you stand for light, the darkness will try to drag you down and extinguish your light!  Prepare yourself for the struggle!  Suffer reproach!
The next command is: Trust in God!  Paul adds some more in verse 10: “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God.”  Someone described trusting God in this way: “At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge; keeping track of the things I did wrong, to know whether I merited hell or heaven. ... But then I was introduced to Jesus, and He challenged me: ‘Let's ride on a bicycle built for two, and let Me do the driving!’  Boy, did that change my life!  I used think the best way to get to a destination was the shortest way.  Jesus knew all other kinds of detours, scenic routes, and long cuts.  Sometimes I'd ask half-frightened: 'Where are You taking me?'  Then He'd lean back and just take my hand.  The more I trusted, the more adventurous became the trip!  He took me to people with gifts that I needed, and then He told me to use those gifts to bless others.  I thought on several occasions that Jesus was going to wreck our bike, but He knows all kinds of bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to make it clear high rocks, and even knows how to make it fly at times to shorten scary passages!  He has taught me how to pedal in the strangest of places.  When I feel so weary like I can't move my legs anymore, He just smiles and says kindly, ‘Don't worry, just keep on pedaling!  We'll get there together’ (Adapted from Hansel in Swindoll)!  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5).  Trust in the living God over every other modern god or goddess!
The  next command is: Help others believe!  Notice the ending of verse 10: “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”  The translation here “especially those who believe” is somewhat misleading.  A better translation would be “particularly or specifically”.  God desires to be all people's Savior and has provided a way for salvation to become a reality, but only those who believe in Jesus and are baptized into His name will be saved.  This passage is not affirming that He is going to save everybody.  All can be saved if they will be obedient to the Gospel.  One commentator rightly stated that God wills the salvation of all who will obey (Guthrie).  And how can they obey the Gospel unless they hear it?  And how can they hear it unless we are willing to teach it to them?  Listen, available right now are the following: two colorful 8 lesson correspondence course, two interesting 5 lesson series on VHS, one 6 lesson series on DVD, and one 8 lesson course where you just open your Bible and share passages with others.  If you have a friend who is willing to commit to a weekly time for any of these kinds of these personal Bible studies, but you still feel uncomfortable, then by all means, contact me and let me know when they would like to learn, and someone to teach them will be found.  Here's a searcher and here's a teacher.  If you feel like you can't teach, then be a mediator to get the two to studying together!  You can help others to believe and be saved eternally if you are willing to just speak up a little and share that they are interested.  You can help this congregation to grow and to thrive by helping others believe in God as their Savior!
In verse 11, Paul admonished Timothy: “These things command and teach.”  And this sermon is trying to do exactly the same thing!  Paul's advice to Timothy in the first century is still as relevant and needed by those who live in the 21st century!  That's the power of the inspired Scriptures!  Instruct members and eat properly, spiritually speaking!  Carefully obey and reject modern man-made fables!  Exercise yourself toward godliness and live abundantly!  Remember eternity and be ready to suffer reproach for Jesus' sake!  Trust in the living God and help others to believe in Him!  Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was only designed to stand for 20 years?  But it is still standing and looks like to will keep standing for a long time.  There were some specialists at the Technical           
Centre for Mechanical Industries who put together a high-powered computer model based on the 18,000 pieces that comprise the tower. That model was exposed to hurricane-force winds, lashing rain, extreme heat, cold and thick snow, and each time, it emerged unbowed. "We have applied the most demanding test standards currently set in Europe and have found that the tower is in excellent shape," said Stephane Roussin, a former French naval officer in charge of structural safety at Eiffel Tower Operating Co. ( /tech/eiffel-tower-computer-model-110112.html). Now it's nice to know that the Eiffel Tower will be around for many more centuries.  But Jesus' church will outlast Effiel's Tower!  Paul said that after the living saints are united with the resurrected saints, “And thus we [the church] will always be with Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).  The only way to be in the church is to let God add you to it by obeying the Gospel and letting Jesus take control of your bicycle!