Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Mother's Day is a good time to give honor to our mothers for all that they have done for us, but many of us look back at our parents with regret because they didn't leave us a better example of how a Christian should live.

Purpose: To challenge believers to learn from the good examples of believers who went before them.

Aim: I want the listener to seek to have their faith deep enough so that it will affect those around them, especially their children.

INTRODUCTION: Mother's Day is a good time to give honor to our mothers for all that they have done for us. No mother is perfect, of course, but some of us here have been blessed with godly mothers who set a wonderful example for us to follow. It is also true that many of us have not been blessed with godly parents at all. Many of us look back at our parents with regret because they didn't leave us a better example of how a Christian should live.

If we do not have good Christian parents, does that mean that our lives are doomed to failure? Paul answers that question for us in the first seven verses of II Timothy. The good news is that every one of us can find a godly example to follow. We have to do two things. First, we must ...

Vs.1-5 I. Look to our own Godly Heritage

Paul begins by contrasting two different ways of rejoicing in a godly heritage.

Vs.1-3 A. Paul looked back to ancient believers "my forefathers"

There is no evidence that Paul's parents were ever followers of Jesus Christ.

"Paul was born at Tarsus, the chief city of Cilicia (southeast Asia Minor). He was a citizen of Tarsus, 'no mean city,' as he called it (Acts 21:39). He was also born a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28), a privilege that worked to his advantage on several occasions during his apostolic ministry. Since Paul was born a Roman citizen, his father must have been a Roman citizen before him. 'Paul' was part of his Roman name. In addition to his Roman name, he was given a Jewish name, 'Saul,' perhaps in memory of Israel's first king, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, to which Paul's family belonged.

"His Jewish heritage meant much more to Paul than Roman citizenship. Unlike many Jews who had been scattered throughout the world, he and his family did not become assimilated to the Gentile way of life that surrounded them. This is suggested when Paul describes himself as 'a Hebrew of the Hebrews' (Phil. 3:5), and confirmed by Paul's statement in Acts 22:3 that, while he was born in Tarsus, he was brought up in Jerusalem 'at the feet of Gamaliel,' the most illustrious rabbi of his day (Acts 5:34). Paul's parents wanted their son to be well-grounded in the best traditions of Jewish orthodoxy." [1]

Paul's parents raised a self-righteous Pharisee, evidently, that was their intention. This meant that Paul had to look back to the great men and women of the faith in order to find a good example to follow. In other words, instead of following his parent's example, Paul looked up to men like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, and Nehemiah.

Notice that Paul said that he had a "clear conscience" like the great men and women of old. All of the great men of faith had failings--many of them had great failings. Twice Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife in order to protect himself. Moses had anger issues, which drove him to murder an Egyptian. Joshua failed to seek God's will every time he needed to make a leadership decision. David fell into immorality and failed to invest the time he should have in raising his own children.

Yet, Paul could say that overall, they had a "clear conscience" because they all truly loved their God. When David was confronted with his great sin of adultery he repented and said, Psalm 51:4 Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge. (NAU) Psalm 51:12--13 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You. (NAU)

As we look at godly examples for us to follow, it is important that we focus on their love for God and not just their actions. Peter blundered many times during the three years that he followed Jesus around Galilee, but he was never far from Jesus. There is no doubt that Peter loved Jesus very much, and that is what we want to imitate.

Vs.4-5 B. Timothy could look back to Lois and Eunice

Paul probably won Timothy to Christ, but it was Timothy's mother and grandmother who laid the groundwork for God to work in his life. Timothy's upbringing, though, was not ideal. His father was not a believer (Acts 16:1).

Neither Paul nor Timothy could use their upbringing as an excuse for not being godly.

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