PROBLEMS OF A SERVANT
HOW TO BE A MAN OF GOD
1 Timothy 4
Introduction: If you were to write a job description for your pastor, what would it contain? What comparisons or differences would there be if I was to do the same? What functions do you think I should do? Or even yet, do you really have an idea what I should do as a pastor?
The average person thinks that the pastor is a man who dresses in suits every day. He thinks he preaches regularly. He is suppose to perform weddings, conduct funerals, visit the sick and counsel the distressed. Some people actually thinks that a preacher only works three hours a week. One hour on Sunday morning and another on Sunday evening and one hour on Wednesday night is the extent of his workweek. Some people think that their pastor is a convenient taxi service. Others call him because they are bored and figure he is too.
But what is his ministry? What kind of person must he be to fulfill his God-given ministry? Young Timothy may have been wrestling with these questions. Since our Lord knows all, He had Paul pen these words for young Timothy and every other man who desires the office of a pastor. It is in this chapter, you find his job description. But if you have a job description, you will have problems. But we have a God who knows all the problems and has the answers for all of them.
This chapter is basely broken down in three sections. They list the three qualities that a minister of Jesus Christ must possess if he is to be successful in serving God. A large church with many outreaches does not necessarily measure Successful in the ministry; Success in the ministry is a dependence upon God for all. It is faithfulness in all it is a desire to please God in all.
I am planning to take at least three weeks to cover this chapter, which has these three qualities. In one sentence they are:
1. A good minister of Jesus Christ preaches the Word. This is covered in verses 1-6.
2. A godly minister of Jesus Christ practices the Word. This is covered in verses 7-12.
3. A growing minister of Jesus Christ progresses in the Word. This is covered in verses 13-16.
Today let’s look at this theme: A good minister of Jesus Christ preaches the Word. This responsibility involves study and personal preparation. If I get to study as I want, I try to put in six to eight hours into one message for Sunday services and that includes preaching the same. I am not telling you this as a braggart. When I look back at my old messages and think how little time I put into them, I am ashamed. Of course, I am trying to grow in my knowledge of our Lord and His more. Also I have more and better tools at my disposal for study. The more I study, the more I realize that do not know but I can find better answers today than I could twelve years ago when I became a pastor.
Paul warned the Ephesians elders that false teachers would come among them. We see this in Acts 20:28-31.
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
I feel that I may be reminding of some facts regularly in this study but these facts are important to our study in this book. Timothy is the pastor at Ephesus at this time. Paul’s prophecy has come true. How do we know this? Look at the first word in this chapter. It is the word “now”. It was being fulfilled in Paul’s day and certainly seen much more in our day.
I. RECOGNIZING FALSE PROPHETS
We can recognize false teachers by the description Paul gave in this paragraph. The Holy Spirit reveals this. Understanding what He is telling us can keep us from those false prophets. There are no hints or mystical symbols. The Holy Spirit is very plain on this subject.
A. They are energized by Satan.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”
This is the only time in the Pastoral Epistles that the demons are mentioned. Just as there was a “mystery of godliness” concerning Christ, so is there a “mystery of iniquity” that surrounds Satan and his work. 2 Thess. 2:7
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”
Satan is an imitator. 2 Cor. 11:13-15
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
He has own ministers and doctrines and seeks to deceive God’s people and lead them astray.
2 Cor. 11:3
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
The first test of any religious doctrine is what does it say about Jesus Christ. 1 John 4:1-6
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
Satan can use professing Christians in the church to accomplish his work. Satan even used Peter once to try to lead on the wrong path just a few minutes after Peter had proclaimed so great exactly who Jesus really is in Matthew 16.
He used Ananias and Sapphira to try to deceive the church at Jerusalem in Acts chapter five. Paul warned that false teachers would arise from within the church. Acts 20:30
“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
B. They lead people astray.
“that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”
Their goal is simple. It is to seduce people and get them to depart from the faith. The term is called “apostasy”. The definition means “a willful turning away from the truth of the Christian faith.” These false teachers do not try to build the church or relate people to the Lord Jesus Christ in a deeper way. Instead they have their own agenda. It is to get themselves disciples or followers. It is for one purpose. It is either to destroy the church or take it over completely.
The fundamental difference between true church and a religious cult is found in this truth: A true church seeks to win folks to Christ and to build them spiritually. A cult in direct contrast proselytizes (bring them over to their thinking), steal converts from others and make them servants to of the leaders of the cult. If you would take a survey of most cults, you will find very few who had no religious training before they came to the cult. In fact, you will find a lot of Baptists in those groups.
Not all apostates are in cults. Some of them can be found in the pews of good churches. They are many times teachers and even preachers as they are teaching and preaching their false doctrines and leading folks astray.
This is will be seen in the tribulation period. I believe people will accept these people without question because they have seen and heard their doctrines constantly in these days.
“For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
C. They are hypocrites. Vs. 2
“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron”
What identifies them? Mt. 7:15-20
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
They preach one thing but practice another. They tell their disciples what to do but they do not do it themselves. Satan works by the means of the hypocrisy of liars. They are speaking the language of the head. John 8:44
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
One of the marks of a true servant of God is his honesty and integrity. This means that he practices what he preaches. It does not mean that he is sinless but is trying in sincerity to obey the Word of God.
The word “seared” means "a branding-iron," "cauterize", to mark by "branding," an act not quite so severe as that indicated by the former. The reference is to apostates whose consciences are "branded" with the effects of their sin. When I worked in the steel foundry, my hands got hardened from the heat. I could take dishes of hot foods to the table at the dorm without feeling it. This is the way that Satan does those consciences that follow him. Whenever we affirm with our lips something that we deny with our lives, we deaden our conscience just a little more.
The word "seared" is a medical term. In times past when a surgeon did surgery on a person, he would have to clamp off the smaller blood vessels. This would take lots of time. Today he has an instrument that will cauterizes these smaller blood vessels. Lies cauterize our conscience. If we habitually practice lying, we will get to the place that our conscience will not bother us because it has been seared so much. The key to preventing our conscience to be seared is to speak the truth every time. Before moving on, let me give one more factor in speaking the truth. It makes the truth easier to handle even if it hurts. It is found in Ephesians 4:15 which says "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." As a pastor, I must remember this truth as I preach those truths that may cause pain to the conscience of those who hear. Speaking the truth in love means the message comes from the heart. The heart is the seat of love. Christ gave all His sayings, which included His rebukes from His heart.
An apostate is not just doctrinally wrong, he is morally wrong. You show me someone who given heed to the seducing spirits and I will show you someone who had some moral problem first. People who stay in the Bible and in God’s house rarely if ever stray from God. The sin changed him before it changed his doctrine so he would continue in his sin and pacify his own conscience.
Here is a lesson that we can instill in our children. It is this: believing and behaving good hand in hand. This is one reason why Paul put what he said in the previous chapter "that thou mayest know how thou oughtest behave thyself in the house of God" and the warnings that we find in these verse.
D. They deny God’s Word.
“Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
The false teachers in Ephesus combined Jewish legalism with eastern harshness. I can not dealt all the aspects of the false doctrine for it would take much more time than I would like to take. If you want to study it further, Paul deals with this in the Book of Colossians. It is especially seen in Colossians 2:8-23.
What is some of the false doctrines? Paul deals with this in these verses. First, they were teaching that an unmarried life is more spiritual than a married life. This is not found in the Bible. What does the Bible say? Genesis 2:18
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
Jesus put His own seal of approval on marriage in Matthew 19:1-9. He did say that not everybody is supposed to married in Matthew 19:10-12. Paul reaffirms the Biblical basis for marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:1-24. He taught that each person should follow the will of God in this matter.
Any religious teaching that tampers with God’s institution of marriage should be avoided. God instituted and conducted to the first marriage.
Another area to avoid with false teachers is any teaching the Biblical basis for marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:1-24. He taught that each person should follow the will of God in this matter.
Any religious teaching that tampers with God’s institution of marriage should be avoided. God instituted and conducted to the first marriage.
Another area to avoid with false teachers is any teaching that tampers with God’s creation. The false teachers that had infected the church in Ephesians were teaching that certain foods are taboo. If you ate those foods, you were not spiritual. Five times in first chapter of Genesis, God calls His creation “good”. They have ignored those clear teachings. Their authority to dictate diets to gave them power over their converts.
The word “meats” refers to food of any type. It is not just meat like beef and chicken. Jesus taught all foods are clean in Mark 7:14-23. He taught this to Peter on the rooftop to Peter in Acts 10. Later He reaffirmed with Paul who gave us the lesson in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33.
I can not eat concentrated sugars due to my health problem but I cannot make it a doctrine for the church. No foods are to be rejected for spiritual reasons. We can not use our freedom in Christ to eat and drink to destroy weaker believers. We find this in Romans 14:13-23. The food we eat is sanctified which is setting apart or devoted to the Lord when we pray and give thanks for the food. The Word of God and prayer turns an ordinary meal into a spiritual service for God’s glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
Remember that food and marriage was given to man by God. Since we have these gifts, we are obligated to partake of them in a right way. To reject them is dispute the wisdom and purpose of God and to thwart His intention.
II. REMEDY FOR FALSE PROPHETS
So what is my main job? My job is to preach the Word of God. My first duty is not cleaning the church even though I can do so. My first duty is not to perform weddings and conduct funerals even though I am called upon at times to do so. My first duty is to preach the Word. To combat false teachers, I have to preach. It is the only remedy for false teachers. My main emphasis in life is studying God’s Word and prayer. What are my responsibilities as your pastor to combat apostasy? It involves two areas.
A. Teach the church the truth
“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ”
God’s people need to be warned about false doctrine and religious apostasy. I cannot major on these subjects. I am obligated to preach and teach the whole counsel of God.
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”
“A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.”
I cannot ignore them. They will not go away. When you drive down the street, you see two kinds of signs. One sign may say “Smithfield 10 miles”. Then are those which warn us of dangers like “Bridge Out!”
As a pastor I must teach positive doctrines so that people will know what they believe and why they believe them as they on the road to glory. But I must also expose false doctrine so you will not be seduced and led astray. As a church, we draw the lines between error and truth and build up its people in the Word of God. God holds pastors accountable to warn their people of spiritual danger. If I fail to do so, I will have to answer to God.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
B. He must nourish himself in the Word.
“nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”
The word “nourished” implies that being nourished with the Word of God is a continual process of feeding. That involves reading Scripture, meditating on it, interacting with it, and studying it until you’ve mastered the material.
To be able to think and speak biblically, a pastor must spend a large portion of his time interacting with the text of Scripture. It is an inexhaustible treasure that demands a lifetime just to begin to understand its riches. We must commit ourselves to studying, understanding, and articulating the Word of God.
It is a daily task. But it is one that every believer ought to do. 1 Peter 2:2
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby”
A pastor must especially do this nourishment intake regularly. It means that studying good doctrine and meditating on the Word that he can grow in the Lord and is able to lead the church. It is not enough to preach the Word, a pastor must practice the Word also.
Conclusion: With that is said, It leads me to next week’s message, which is “A Godly Minister of Jesus Christ practices the Word of God”.
What are some of the problems that face the servant of God that we see in these verses? They are:
1. They face folks who are forsaking God and His plain Word.
2. They face folks who are teaching forbidden doctrines that will destroy the church from within.