Training the Total Person (1 Timothy 4:6-16)

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Training the Total Person

To become a good servant, Timothy must grow in key areas–1 Timothy 4:6-16

Imagine yourself at a familiar and a happy waiting room. This is the place where you wait for your car, your doctor, or your turn. You like this place, because you know they have all the magazines you love to look at, but would never buy. Someone else has grabbed the latest issue of Children’s Highlights, so you’re stuck with a familiar rag that has one of those fun evaluations.

You know, the quiz which helps you determine what kind of man you are, if you should have been a supermodel, how to discover your latent talents, do you have the ability for prolonged space travel, are you addicted to late night heavyweight wrestling, or why you love Chick-Fil-A? You know the drill–you know how it works. You check it off, add it up and find the answer.

This morning, right up front, I want you to take a biblical quiz. This one will determine how close you are to being a good servant of Jesus Christ. It will also help you see how close you are to becoming a man like Timothy. It will also show you areas where you are an example to the rest of us and areas where you need to pour your dependent energies in order to mature.

They all start with the letter C, and the goal here is to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t know, put down what you think your spouse or good friend might say. But circle 1 for low and 5 for high for each question. Do it right now with me as I read through them–record your first impression. Ready?

#1  Are you continually nourished by biblical CONTENT, yet reject CORRUPTING doctrine?  Verse 6 to 7a

1 never           2 rarely          3 sometimes  4 regularly        5 often

#2  Are you continually self-CONTROLLED? Verse 7b to 9

1 never           2 rarely          3 sometimes  4 regularly        5 often

#3  Are you COMMITTED to hard work and enjoy COMMUNION with Christ?  Verse 10

1 never           2 rarely          3 sometimes  4 regularly        5 often

#4 Do you work at your COMMUNICATION?  Verse 11

1 never           2 rarely          3 sometimes  4 regularly        5 often

#5  Do you seek to model Christ-like CONDUCT?  Verse 12

1 never           2 rarely          3 sometimes  4 regularly        5 often

#6  Do you CONCENTRATE on the Bible as a way of life?  Verse 13

1 never           2 rarely          3 sometimes  4 regularly        5 often

#7  Are you seeking to fulfill God’s specific CALLING in your life?  Verse 14

1 never           2 rarely          3 sometimes  4 regularly        5 often

#8  Is your life CAPTIVATED with ministry and spiritual growth?  Verse 15

1 never           2 rarely          3 sometimes  4 regularly        5 often

#9 Are you CONSISTENT about living the right priorities?  Verse 16

1 never           2 rarely          3 sometimes  4 regularly        5 often

How many have at least one 4 or 5? How many have at least one 1 or 2? Your strengths are for you to use to help the rest of us grow to be more like Christ. Your weaknesses are for you to depend on Christ and all the means of grace to grow more like Christ–using prayer, study of the Word, memorization, accountability, ministry involvement, worship, silence, and other means of grace to grow.

Maybe you’re wondering, “Chris, why would you ask us questions in so many different areas?” Answer–because true training involves the total person. You’re not training unless every area of a person’s life is under the microscope. You don’t fill the head with the truth of God’s Word, but ignore their commitment to Christ.

You don’t talk about marriage and not expect their spouse to see some changes. You don’t equip them about self-control and have it not affect their finances. You don’t address their struggle with greed or lust, but ignore their pride. You don’t instruct them about preaching and not have them become better communicators. You don’t talk about God’s holiness, but ignore their impure conduct.

The Word of God is designed to impact every aspect of our lives–think deeply about Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart”–every area.

Discipleship is to result in Matthew 28:20, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you”–every commandment, all of Scripture. The goal is for every believer to grow complete in Christ. Colossians 1:28, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ”–every area of life under God’s Word.

Training involves character, conduct, chemistry with others, consistent faithfulness, loving their life companion, discipling their children, rejection of bad content and more. Every element, every aspect, every moment of the day is to be impacted when you parent your children, invest into a student and seek to impact a fellow believer for Christ. You train the total person.

We are one week away from wrapping up our series called, Making a Difference: the Keys to Influencing Others. We have looked at vital passages of Scripture which instruct us in impacting our children, grandchildren, fellow workers, family members, classmates, students and community groupers for Christ.

Do not miss this–to impact others, the entire series is necessary all the time. As you seek to invest into others, you can’t forget they must first be born again. And secondly, they will make no progress unless they are filled with the Spirit every single day. Thirdly, they must be committed to fleeing sin and pursuing Christlike character. Those first three are training requirements.

The training environment for impacting others is fourth, being immersed in the local church, and fifth, each person functioning in service in a local church as they seek to discover and use their giftedness. You will not be used of God to make an impact in others’ lives if they or you are isolated from the church.

The training commitment is discipleship, sixthly, modeled in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6, and seventh, commanded in the New Testament in Matthew 28. The training movement is eighth, targeting their sovereign purpose–helping each person understand the good works which God has already prepared for them to live out in this life.

Ninth was following the example of Christ as He sent His men out for practice. We need to allow our disciples to progressively leave the nest to grow in their impact for Christ. Then tenth, God’s plan is to be focused on the next generation, to train up faithful men who will be able to train others also.

And finally today eleven, to make certain we’re focused not on one element of their lives, not on one issue in their lives, but be focused on training every element of their life to come under the authority of the Word of God. All of it is necessary–you can’t move on from salvation or sanctification. You can’t ignore the discipleship process, nor can you ignore the total man, the total woman.

The New Testament paints a comprehensive picture of training. You’re thinking like Christ, you’re feeling what Christ feels, you parent like Christ, you work like Christ, you love like Christ, you serve like Christ, you worship like Christ, you work out like Christ.

Training is designed to use every means of grace, teaching, modeling, practicing two by two, answering questions, responding to trials, marriage, parenting, friendships, exercising giftedness, and so much more–to prepare the total man/woman for the work of Christ. True biblical training is designed to impact every aspect of a man’s life.

One of the clearest passages demonstrating the comprehensive nature of biblical training is 1 Timothy 6:6 to 16. These verses press you to invest in the total man. Once Paul was released from prison in Rome at the end of Acts, after he wrote Galatians, Ephesians Philippians and Colossians (GEPC), Paul revisited several key cities, one of them being Ephesus.

There Paul left Timothy to deal with problems of heresy, correct disorder in worship and help identify qualified leaders. As Paul continued to minister elsewhere, he writes Timothy this first letter. In the midst of his instructions, Paul seeks to train his disciple and encourage his spiritual growth. Paul does so, not by focusing on a single aspect of Timothy’s character, or a few challenges to Timothy’s commitment, but with a plethora of life challenges for Timothy to develop. Paul focused on the total man.

Though not comprehensive, 1 Timothy 4:6 to 16 demonstrates that biblical training is to be directed at every aspect of a person’s life. Paul addressed struggles and improper conduct in chapters 1 to 4:5, but now in verse 6 Paul gives Timothy a list of personal challenges in character, life, priority and more.

These verses illustrate how Paul trained Timothy. These verses demonstrate some areas of life and ministry Paul focused on. Here you find an example to substantiate a total person training approach. Look at verse 6–it begins with, “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus.”

The phrase “these things” in verse 6 is summarizing what Paul has already written in this letter. The verb “pointing out” tells Timothy to remind the Ephesians of these truths. If Tim does so, Paul says to Timothy, then he will “be a good servant”–the key phrase in this text, meaning Timothy will be an admirable and excellent minister who serves on Christ’s behalf.

The phrase, “good servant of Jesus Christ” summarizes the rest of the teaching in verses 6 to 16 and is one of the underlying themes of the entire letter. Therefore, in what ways is Timothy to be a good servant? How would Paul train Timothy? Revisit the opening quiz and ask the Spirit to direct you in your response.

#1  A good servant is nourished with biblical CONTENT and rejects CORRUPTING doctrine

Verses 6 and 7 continue, “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women.” Paul instructs Timothy to be continually feeding on the Word of God. The Bible is your spiritual food, so without regular intake, you’re not going to grow.

How many of you have had more than twenty hamburgers in your life? How many have had more than fifty slices of pizza in your life? For some collegians here, fifty slices was just last night. How many have had more than a hundred salads in your lifetime? Did the fact that you already ate that food before cause you to reject it? “Boring!” Did the repeat of that food cause it to not be necessary for your physical wellbeing?

Some of you are familiar with God’s Word, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to hear again truths you’re familiar with. Like 2 Peter 1:13 says, “I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder.” You need to hear it again. Your heart needs to be literally woken up from a spiritual sleep. And for your spiritual well-being, ask yourself, even though you know these truths, are you living them?

So Paul says in verse 6 for Timothy to be feeding on the “words of the faith”, which represents the entire body of Christian truth contained in the Scripture. “And of the sound doctrine”, which is healthy truth which will make a person live like Christ. If Timothy does not continually feed himself, he will be unable to feed others. Timothy shows himself as a good servant by closely following God’s Word.

Then in contrast to God’s Word, Paul warns Timothy to completely reject profane myths, which belong only to senile old women who share fairy tales. Paul is not saying this to insult older women, but to comment on the bad doctrine. And Paul doesn’t say, “Timothy, be careful what you read.” No, much stronger than that. Reject this sappy error found in most Christian bookstores–literally refuse it. Learning the Word and sound doctrine, while rejecting error, is a quality to develop.

#2  A good servant exercises SELF-CONTROL

Verse 7b to 9, “On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.” The word “discipline yourself” is where the English word gymnasium comes from.

Using athletic imagery, the idea here is to train yourself to exercise self-control. Listen to this picture in Proverbs 25:28, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” And 1 Corinthians 9:27, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave.” I have known too many who are more gifted than I am, more talented, smarter, better looking–but they do not develop self-control in their lives.

They’re like Niagara Falls–incredibly attractive, lots of power, but they have no hydro-electric plant to harness the energy. They’ve got all the abilities, but without self-control, nothing to harness the power. As you seek to impact others, you must be mindful of their time usage, their orderliness at home, their money, their budget, how they deal with people, how they handle tasks.

Are they on time, are they thoughtful of others’ time, are they seeking to bring every aspect of their lives under the control of the Spirit? Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. Paul calls Timothy to continually run hard after Christ without any restraint. Timothy is to fully exercise himself to live according to God’s character.

Paul says, “Tim, develop your spiritual life.” This is not growth by circumstances, not growth because you’re on a mission team, not maturity because you have more time. No, this is active pursuit. Go for it.

Did you know teenage fornication, promiscuity is actually down more in our day than it’s been in the past? True, but it’s not because they trust the Bible, believe in abstinence or are pursuing purity. It is because they’re busy with other things–their phone, games and their computers. Paul commands Timothy to pursue (actively) intentionally discipline/self-control, go after purity and holiness.

Verse 12 says, “Physical exercise gives little benefit (little help, little usefulness or little advantage).” But in contrast, living like Christ verse 12 says, working at spiritual gymnastics has advantages. Literally in every direction, in every way; in this life and the next. This type of self-control causes two great results—1) abundant life now, and 2) eternal reward later.

Paul commands Timothy to live differently than the false teachers, but manifest the fruit of the Spirit, demonstrate self-control to be like Christ. Paul ends in verse 9 with, “This is a trustworthy statement,” telling Timothy, this is axiomatic. Every believer knows this is true. Do you?

#3  A good servant is COMMITTED to hard work

Paul says, “Tim, pursue heavenly reward–but remember, it will be hard work on earth.” Verse 10, “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” So, “Tim, your commitment is to work to the point of exhaustion (labor), and to struggle to the point of agony (strive).

“And Timothy, you and I,” Paul says, “work this hard because we have placed all our trust and confident hope in the living God—(not in the dead idols of false teachers) not with the false religions of error, not with the empty routines of religion, but in the one living, sovereign God.” And our Savior, who suffered, was tortured and died—giving His all for us. He pushed you out of the way and stepped in front of the speeding car meant for you.

Paul then adds a challenging statement, “who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” Paul reminds Timothy, God blesses those without Christ, God provides His creatures with food, keeps them alive, is deeply interested in them, often delivers them from disease, ills, hurt, famine, war, poverty, and peril in many forms. God is, accordingly, their Savior. (He is their preserver, deliverer and in that sense, their Savior.)

But God is especially glorious for those He has rescued from sin–genuine believers. Christians are saved now and forever. We have Christ in abundance now and for all eternity. So Paul says, “Timothy, if Christ did this for you, then grow in your commitment. Labor and strive. Grow singular in your commitment.” Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Luke 9:62, grow focused, Jesus said–“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” You can tell when a man loves his wife, because his wife comes up in normal conversation. He thinks of her with every decision, every event, every activity because they’re one.

You can also clearly see when a believer is committed to Christ, because Christ comes up in every decision, is central in every event, and the priority of every activity. It’s not merely your commitment to work hard, but what also what you say.

#4  A good servant works at COMMUNICATION

Paul adds this exhortation for Timothy in verse 11, “Prescribe and teach these things.” Timothy, I want you to prescribe–that means call those you seek to impact, to pursue a life of continual obedience to God’s commands. And teach these things, meaning, with those you seek to impact for Christ, keep on teaching the authorial intent of the text–prescribe and teach.

Paul tells Timothy, “Do not stop communicating the importance of obedience to God’s Word and to teach the author’s intended message in God’s Word. But also do more than talk.”

#5  A good servant seeks to model Christ-like CONDUCT

In verse 12, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” Timothy is approximately 30 years old at this point. But compared to the elders who are at Ephesus, Timothy is “a young thing”, a baby–almost immature.

So Paul prods Timothy–do not be insecure, do not be afraid, do not be silent. But actively, let no one look down on you with contempt. Do not allow others to dismiss you. Never allow anyone despise you because of your young age. But in stark contrast Paul exhorts Timothy, “Don’t try to change older men by confrontation, but impact them by exemplification.”

Let your conduct speak for you. The greatest tool of leadership is the power of example, so Paul tells Timothy, “Focus on your behavior in order to be a model to all believers and the leaders. Paul focuses on Timothy’s behavior. In verse 12, the apostle encourages Timothy’s words, behavior, and love equal daily actions of sacrifice, trust in Christ, and holiness.

Paul calls Timothy’s conduct to be a pattern to follow. Parents, God expects your parenting to be a pattern for your kids to follow. Never say, “Do as I say, but not as I do.” But rather, “Follow us,”—and then as Dad and Mom, follow Christ. Disciplers, it is your example which has the greatest influence.

But with Timothy’s example, Timothy’s role in the church must also have a priority focus.

#6  A good servant CONCENTRATES on the Bible

So verse 13, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” The word public is not in the Greek text and is assumed here–why? Well, there were no printing presses in Paul’s time. Believers didn’t have Bibles. So Paul is telling Timothy to keep on reading to God’s people from the copies they have of the Old Testament and now the New Testament scrolls. Keep reading the Scriptures to them.

Plus, keep exhorting and teaching. Exhortation means to comfort with truth and to push towards obedience to God’s Word. Keep comforting and pushing obedience. Plus keep teaching, to instruct in doctrine. Never stop instructing. Parents/disciplers are to be saturated with the Word, formally teach it, informally talk about it every moment with every task–first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Plus Timothy, you should be addicted to the Scriptures in life and ministry.

#7  A good servant fulfills God’s CALLING

In verse 14, Paul reminds Timothy of his special calling confirmed by the elders, as an apostolic assistant to Paul, a church planter and preacher and more. Like all believers, Timothy is also to exercise his spiritual giftedness in ministry. Paul tells Timothy he must never stop ministering the way God gifted him.

Verse 14, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.” Paul says, “Tim, if you neglect the Holy Spirit’s work in your life, it will affect the Holy Spirit’s work through your life.” But Timothy is to be concerned about more than ministry.

#8  A good servant is CAPTIVATED with ministry and growth

Verse 15 says, “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.” Take pains means plan your ministry and life, Timothy. Paul says, “Be engulfed, immersed and saturated, absorbed with what I’m teaching you, Timothy.” Make certain your growth in Christ, your progress in Christ, your changes from Christ, Christ’s impact in and through your life is splendidly obvious to everyone.

The most dramatic impact you can ever have on your children–the greatest impact you can make on another Christian is for them to watch/observe Christ change you. To watch you start to love your spouse, serve others, speak graciously, stop blaming others, forgive those who hurt you, establish different priorities, kill a bad habit, stop a sinful pattern, develop a life of character will rock the world of those closest to you and prove the genuineness, the reality and the power of Christ.

Timothy is to be captivated with Christ in such a way that his ministry and life will mature. Do not be distracted with lesser priorities, Timothy. Be captivated where it counts. Today, we have an entire generation who can live really messed up lives, but they themselves think they’re doing great because they are #1 in their on-line game.

Or they have a thousand likes on their Instagram pic, or 2000 Facebook friends. Their entire life is a disaster, but because they are doing epic in the artificial world, they believe they’re doing okay. Paul says to Timothy, “Live captivated with Christ.”

#9  A good servant is CONSISTENT about the right priorities

Paul summarizes all he says in verses 6 to 16 with a challenge to remain faithful. Timothy must concentrate on, and hold fast to maintaining a personal life of integrity and to diligently examine his own teaching to make certain it is accurate and clear. Verse 16, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”

Watch your life and doctrine. Spurgeon calls this the self-watch. Be like an editor over an article when it comes to your lifestyle–find the misspellings. And be like a home inspector looking for any breakage or weakness in your teaching. As Timothy maintains these two priorities, he provides assurance of salvation for himself and all those he teaches. Timothy’s invisible commitments result in visible growth.

Do you now see how this passage is an example of training the total man? Though not comprehensive over every area training must engage, these verses give a clear demonstration of the various areas of a person’s life you are to examine in order to impact them for Christ. Everything is on the table when you are growing to become more like Christ.


A  There are always more areas to WORK ON until Heaven

Along with all the areas contained in Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, trainers can focus on their compassion, their relationship to community, their spouse/companion, their parenting of children, their chemistry in getting along with others, the camaraderie of their friendships, their brokenness of confession over sin and much more in the New Testament. Never stop training all aspects of every child, every disciple, every man to train.

B  There are always steps you can take to guarantee your steady GROWTH

God is sovereign over your sanctification, but you are responsible to grow, to work out your salvation, to run to win, to die daily, to turn from sin and follow Christ. As you turn to Christ in this manner, you actually turn from sin–you overcome sin by pursuing Christ.

What can you do? Join a ministry with others, participate in a community group and be discipled personally, or as a couple, pray, study the Word, memorize Scripture, share the Gospel, work for Christ first at work, pursue your studies at school as if you were doing them for Christ. But you take the steps to force your own growth in Christ.

C  There are SINS which hinder maturity, and character which activates growth

When there is pride, growth doesn’t occur. When there is humility, growth happens. When there is pride, God is against you. When there is humility, God is for you. Those who blame others, hinder the work of God in their life and their own maturing. When there is humble dependence upon God and accepting responsibility for your own sin, God is going to cause maturity.

This is true for the body of Christ as well. As long as you take responsibility for your sins and accept your providential circumstances, then this church needs your strengths. Plus for the humble, there will always be people here who will help you deal with your weaknesses and battles. Humility makes growth happen–pride makes growth impossible.

This is true for impacting others. If impacting your children is for you to gain acceptance, be esteemed, be well thought of, then you will be resisted. But if your parenting, or discipleship is for God to be glorified and His purposes advanced in the lives you invest in, then God will bless those efforts. Humility makes parenting work–pride makes discipleship an impossible task.

D  Make certain your heart is continually up-to-date (intimate) with Christ

You have to be in Christ to grow mature as a Christian–meaning you believe Christ is God, who was born a baby, lived a perfect life, then chose to die for the sins of His own on the cross, then rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven.

You believe if you surrender your life, then your sin falls on Christ and His perfect righteousness clothes you so that now you can enter Heaven, because you wear His perfection and not your own. You also have experienced His internal transformation, causing you to be born again with a new heart that wants to please Him, worship Him, and serve Him in every way in every area.

Plus, you have to be in the Spirit to grow mature as a Christian–living by an act of your will in obedience to Christ, dependently on the indwelling Holy Spirit in and through you. Is your heart up-to-date? Are you living with a heart of gratitude for what Christ did? Is your heart dealing with known sin? Are you pursuing Christ still? Today, make certain you are in Christ and filled with His Spirit. Let’s pray.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.

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