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The How to's of Holiness (Part 1)

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 1) 1-27-08…AM…SBC

The How-to’s of Holiness – Part 1

1 Timothy 4:7 / Ephesians 4:17-24

Introduction:               Because we are all sinful we crave addiction to something

Ø      The Addicted person

·         It starts with an opportunity, a desire and a choice

·         Ideas like “just once won’t hurt anyone” flood the mind

·         Feelings of mystery, excitement and suspense enter the emotions

·         Just once turns into occasionally, and then occasionally turns into often, and often turns into endless

·         An addiction has been formed and a habit has been perfected

Ø      these are words that we would usually apply to one addicted to drugs or money or pornography

Ø      It is biblical to see this sequence of events applied to our laziness, our complaining, our envy, our anger, our gossip, our own materialism

Ø      In reality, this sequence describes all of us and the sinful habits and addictions we have formed

Illustrate by acting out the wrong forms of swinging a bat – head up, elbow down, stepping out, etc

What is required to break this bad habit?  Discipline

Proposition:  As the baseball player who has to be disciplined to fix the “hitch” in his swing, so we must be disciplined and willing to undergo rigorous training to overcome our own addictions.


1) Personal Transformation through Training and Discipline             1 Timothy 4:1-7


     Context:                 -     Paul is challenging Timothy with his ministerial duties

-          Paul says that “an excellent minister who is committed to the study of Scripture is uninterested in and unwilling to have his strength dissipated by ungodly teaching.” [1]

-          Paul says to Timothy “there is no effective spiritual ministry apart from personal godliness, since ministry is the overflow of a godly life.”[2]

-          the universal principle behind this passage is what teaches us that it takes discipline and training to have the right attitude and response to our Creator God


A-    Rather than a huge noticeable leap of rebellion, addiction is marked by small steps of spiritual casualness.

1-      it is characterized by a lack of sensitivity to what God calls right and wrong

2-      when a lack of sensitivity to right and wrong appears, apathy and a lack of spiritual concern are usually close behind

3-      Ancient Israel began it’s decent is this very way

Deuteronomy 11:16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them;[3]

Illustration of small steps to addiction:

Ø      not having a consistent devotional time with God eventually leads one to be blind to what God’s Word says

Ø      not being accurate about what God’s Word says may lead someone to believe that they may have an “illness” or “disease” that causes their depression or anxiety when in actuality they might be showing a lack of faith in God and His plan for their lives and the circumstances that that includes

There might be some physical symptoms of what is commonly called depression that might stem from actual physical diseases or side effects of some prescription medicine.  This might be part of the picture.  Others have physical symptoms of depression that are not tied to any real disease or illness but may have completely spiritual roots to it.  These roots of depression could be from guilt and grief to trauma and stress.  Either way you are struggling with depression, you will face spiritual problems every day.  You must find a way to deal with them or they will overwhelm you.



B-    Paul borrowed a metaphor from the sphere of athletics to describe the pursuit of godliness

 (cf. 1 Cor 9:24–27).[4]  (Athletic metaphors abound in Paul’s writing)

1-      Paul urged Timothy to concentrate his energy on vigorous training for genuine godliness.[5]

2-      For Paul genuine godliness involved both right belief and obedient action.[6]

3-      Timothy was to persist in that Christian discipline which would prepare him for God’s highest purposes.[7]

C-    But what does this intense training and personal discipline look like when it is fleshed out in real life?

·         many of us seek after “instant godliness”

·         we want three easy steps to godliness and we’ll take them on Friday and be godly by Sunday

·         the trouble is Godliness doesn’t come that way

1-      Godliness is a structured discipline that always begins with a regular intake of the Scriptures and a disciplined plan for applying them to our daily lives.

Quote:       Jay Adams      Godliness Through Discipline


“It is by willing prayerful and persistent obedience to the requirements of the Scriptures that godly habits are developed and come to be a part of us”

2-      Every Christian who makes progression in holiness is a person who has disciplined his life so that he spends regular time in the Bible

3-      Meticulous training will involve meditation not just reading

a-      Meditation from the application of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a  (turn to it)

o       am I impatient, unkind or envious toward anyone

o       illustration of co-worker who is getting all the breaks

o       you confess your sin to God and then begin to love Joe till lit becomes a habit

b-      Meditation also comes from self inspection

Meditation is as simple as asking yourself some simple questions as your intake GW

1.      What does this passage teach concerning God’s will for my life?

2.      How does my life measure up to that Scripture? – Where and how do I fall short?

3.      What definite steps of action do I need to take to obey?

Summary of Personal transformation taking training and discipline:

Ø      Rigorous training is not just gritting your teeth and saying, “I’ll not do that anymore.” Rather discipline means structured and planned training


Ø      It is clear in Scripture that this careful training does not come when we just “stop trying and start trusting”

Ø      We are responsible to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh

Ø      Biblically we can call that…

2) Personal Transformation through Putting off and Putting on                    Ephesians 4:22-24


A-    Transformation is change that begins from within and results in a complete change from the inside out

1-      the Lord never intends for any of His children to remain as they are, but to grow in Christ-likeness

2-      Many Christians fail because they try to change by breaking bad habits

3-      A key principle for change is that we don’t break bad habits, we replace them.

4-      Replacing out bad habits can be described by some key biblical terms:

Put off:  identify habits that are not God-honoring and cast them off like dirty clothes

Renew:  changing what is ruling your heart and influencing your behavior

Put on:  true and lasting change takes place when old ways are replaced with biblical alternatives

B-    Be encouraged by knowing that sinful habits are leaned ways of living and that they can be unlearned as new biblical habits are formed

C-    A New Course of Action              (write on whiteboard)

1-      Identify the Problem – Which particular sin are you characterized by?

2-      Look up the Scripture verses that speak specifically and by universal principle to that sin

-          What are these verses teaching?

-          Ask God to make His truths clear to you

3-      Put off – How have I failed to live by God’s Word?

- write down personal examples how you have failed to live by the truths of these Scriptures

4-      Put on – What changes do I need to make?

-          identify what new way of behaving, acting, reacting and thinking must now be put on

5-      My Plan for Change – How will I make these changes?

-          it is important to be specific and not vague or general in your assessment


1- How much rigorous training towards godliness is taking place right now in your life?

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for  an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus:  not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. [8]

            Does this describe your training goals?


2- the first step in self-confrontation is to realize your own sinful, lost condition before God

            - the second step is to turn to God as your only hope of eternal salvation (Romans 6:23)

3- Don’t just your faithfulness to God based on victories and defeats, but instead judge it in terms of obedience and disobedience

a-      when we say we are defeated we move out from under the responsibility of my actions

b-      we are saying that something outside of me has defeated me

c-      the reason we are defeated is because we have chosen to disobey

Are you willing to undergo a rigorous training schedule to overcome our own addictions?


[1]John MacArthur, 1 Timothy (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 161.

[2]John MacArthur, 1 Timothy (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 162.

[3]The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Dt 11:16.

[4]Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, vol. 34, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, electronic ed., The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992), 134.

[5]Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, vol. 34, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, electronic ed., The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992), 134.

[6]Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, vol. 34, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, electronic ed., The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992), 134.

[7]Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, vol. 34, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, electronic ed., The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992), 134.

[8]The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), 1 Co 9:24-27.

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