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Behave Yourself!

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1 Timothy

1 Timothy is a charge to one of Paul’s most trusted disciples. He led Timothy to Jesus, worked with him, and now sent Timothy on his own to strengthen churches.
We need Timothies. We need people we can trust to work together to strengthen this church. Are you on board?
This church is going through a time of transition, a time of testing. It’s easy for people to jump ship. It’s harder to step up and be counted. I am impressed that when the Apostle Paul engaged with difficult churches like Corinth and Ephesus, he chose to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
As Paul played a role and Timothy another one, we need people to step up their game for the glory of God.
In the next few weeks, we will study 1 Timothy.
One reason is that 1 Timothy is a study of behavior in the household of God.
1 Timothy 3:15 ESV
if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
Look at how the church is pictured.

Household

In the New Testament time, grandparent, children and grandchildren often shared the same living quarters. If one were rich, it might be a large complex. If one were poor, it might be a small house.
Two key words come out of this picture.
Together
Family
If your mother or father were in the hospital, would you visit them? Most would say, “yes.” Why? Because they are family.
If someone from the church was in the hospital would you visit them? Why not? One reason is that many do not identify other Christians as family on a practical level.
One practice of the second century church was for everyone in the church to come together to escort the body of a dead believe to the cemetery. All rejoiced together in the knowledge of the believer’s entrance to heaven. All grieved together at the loss.
How do you think a grieving husband, wife or child would feel if everyone showed up to support them at the loss of a loved one?
That is what “together” and “family” would look like.

Church of the living God.

The Greek word for “church” means “assembly” or “called out ones…”. It was used to describe meeting of the citizens, i.e. town meetings. Only those who were citizens could attend and have a say.
Paul pictures the church as believers of assemble together to serve the living God. God is not a dead stone or clay image as many of the Romans thought. God is a living God. He is the one who has called us out into his family to work with Him and serve him.

Pillar and buttress of the truth.

A pillar holds up the roof. It rests on the foundation and heads vertically to support a roof or ceiling. A buttress supports or protects a building.
The church uses truth to support all that is laid on the foundation of Jesus Christ. The church uses truth to protect people from bad teaching, bad thinking and bad decision-making.
Paul uses this word, “truth”, five times in this book.
1 Timothy 2:4 ESV
who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:7 ESV
For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
1 Timothy 3:15 ESV
if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
1 Timothy 4:3 ESV
who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
1 Timothy 6:5 ESV
and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
What is this truth that holds up and protects the church?
The truth that holds up and protects the church is the Word of God. Jesus is the center of that truth.
John 14:6 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The truth is revealed to us in the Old Testament and the New. The apostles wrote much about Jesus. They knew him and they understood what he taught. They supported their understanding of Jesus by extensively quoting the Old Testament. They believe in its inspiration and its accuracy.
Paul writes Timothy a second letter. In it he says,
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
If it is God-breathed, it is true.
Do you believe the Bible is true? If you say, “not all of it…” then whatever you leave out does not support your life choices nor does it protect you from spiritual harm.
If you believe that the Bible is true, then obey it. It is only in the spirit of this age that someone can say, “I believe…” and not act on it. In Biblical times, that would not be considered belief.
Ephesus was a rich church. The apostle Paul preached there for two years. Priscilla and Aquilla disciples Apollos who also preached there. Timothy was sent to help it. The apostle John mentioned Ephesus in the book of Revelation and may have preached there.
Yet, Ephesus was a difficult city to minister in. Ephesus was the third largest city in the Roman Empire. It was multi-cultural with a lot of ethnic diversity. It also was home to many religious groups. Artemis was the goddess of fertility. Part of her worship included making money off from sexual prostitution. The imperical cult which often deified Roman Emperors, Gnosticism and magic were rampant in the city.
Some “Christian” teachers tried to merge Christian belief about Jesus with some of the local religious teachings. In Acts, Paul warns the Ephesians about this.
Acts 20:30 ESV
and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Paul sends Timothy to stop this trend.
1 Timothy 1:3 ESV
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,
,
1 Timothy 1:18–20 ESV
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
1 Timothy 1:7 ESV
desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
1 Timothy 4:3 ESV
who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
1 Timothy 6:20–21 ESV
O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.
1 Timothy 6:4 ESV
he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,
1 Timothy 6:5 ESV
and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
1 Timothy 1:4 ESV
nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.
1 Timothy 1:9–10 ESV
understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
As we can see, a twisted form of Christianity struck at the heart of the gospel message.
Jesus Christ came to save us from sin. He started by forgiving us and paying the price on the cross. He continues to save us from sin by telling us to leave our sinful ways and live according to the truth that is in Christ Jesus. He promises to deliver us from sin totally by giving us a new mind, a new spirit and a new body when we go to be with him for eternity.
The church today is facing the same kind of attacks. Christians are condoning abortion and homosexuality. Many are indifferent to people who commit immorality, who lie, who are greedy, and who commit other sins.
We often engage in slander, backbiting, murmuring and complaining. Christian are looking at porn, swearing and using illegal drugs.
What Paul is telling Timothy is that he needs to go to Ephesus and tell them,
“how one ought to behave in the household of God.”
This is not telling them not to run in church or not to complain to visitors who sit where you usually sit. The focus is not on conduct within a building, but conduct within a family, the household of God.
The church should be a household, an assembly of those who serve the living God, and a pillar and buttress of truth.
In order to do that, the church needs teachers. So Paul gives him the qualifications for overseers. The main distinction between and Elder or overseer and a deacon is that the deacon must be able to teach. That will be fundamental to the long-term health of the church.
That will be the focus, along with the book of Titus, on a Sunday school class starting in September.
Let me close with several questions for you.
Are you family?
Are you committed to the Bible’s teachings?
Are you engaged?
Are you teachable?
Transitions can be hard. They can also either split people apart or bring them together. Which do you think God wants? Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Pray. Get involved.
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