MSG: Train Your Replacements: How to Live Godly 1 Timothy 3:16

This message was presented on March 16, 2014 as part of the series on 1 Timothy.

Would you agree with me it has been a long winter? Would you agree that there has been enough sickness for two years? This season has been a test to see if our lives as Christians will show the world that “Jesus is totally sufficient,” and that our joy is in Him, not circumstances. Two weeks ago, we examined 1 Timothy 3:14-15,

14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:14-15 NKJ)

What is God’s view of how you can live in a godly manner?  What does “how you ought to conduct yourself” look like? It’s all related to how you view Jesus Christ.  Turn to  Isaiah 6:1-3.  Isaiah is the “prince of the prophets,” and covers more history, theology and prophecy than most of the other prophets. Isaiah 6 is a highlight,

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Is. 6:1-3 NKJ)

Whoa!!! All these Seraph angels surrounded Jesus’ throne and they were shouting “Holy!”  Picture an elevated throne ten feet up from this platform and the Lord is wearing a resplendent robe whose train fills the platform area and then flows down the aisles and out in the narthex, and hovering above are seraph angels in white raiment. How would you respond? With awe!  1 Timothy 3:16 was designed to help you and I know how to live – in worshipful response to the presence of the Lord. Notice 1 Timothy 3:16,

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16 NKJ)

Let’s note several things about that first phrase. First, the expression “without controversy” means “undeniably” or “by common confession.” Second, the phrase “mystery of godliness” explains how the Christian is to live. The Mystery Truths or Doctrines were God’s hidden program to bring godliness into the world. “Mystery Truths” were not revealed in the Old Testament, but were revealed to the royal family of God in the Church Age. Those who live in the Church Age are part of the royal family of God, because those believers are children of the King of Kings!  It is what makes the Body of Christ unique.  Mysteries make you unique and special. There is a list of them on the back side of the insert. One of my favorites is highlighted in bold and is called the mystery of Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:25-27).  Never before the Church Age did any believer understand how the Lord Jesus Christ would dwell inside and be the hope of glory in time and eternity. This aspect of godliness is how to be God-like. This verse may have been a chorus from a song.  The original text of Greek is symmetrical. How do you live godly? Let’s take each phrase to understand it.

1)    Let God manifest Himself in your life

God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16 NKJ)

There are six verbs and each describes what happened to Jesus during His earthly ministry (aorist tense), what happened to Him (passive voice) and what describes actual reality. Jesus, the manifest person of the Trinity, was visible in Genesis 3, when He walked to meet with Adam and Eve. He was seen in Genesis 18, when he visited Abraham with two angels. He was revealed as the burning bush with Moses and then above Mount Sinai when Israel received the Law. He was manifest as the Angel of the Lord when He visited Gideon and later Samson’s parents, but never, never did God manifest Himself in the flesh.

Israel thought that God would send a Messiah who would rule them, but would be like them.  He was! He was both God and man. Paul explained this,

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:5-8 NKJ)

That is what God wants us to do – manifest Jesus in our lives. Paul described that, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20 NKJ) How do you live in a godly manner? Let God manifest Himself in your life. When you become frustrated and angry, you surrender your anger to God and are kind. When you are worried, you surrender your worry and by faith trust in the confidence of Jesus.

2)    Let God’s Spirit declare you righteous

God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16 NKJ)

“Justified” does not mean “just as if I never sinned.” It means that I was a sinner, but now God “declares me righteous.” It means that I have taken off my robe of sin and God has placed Christ’s robe of righteousness on me. This righteousness is seen only by what the Holy Spirit does in my life.

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. (Luke 4:1 NKJ)

Why was Jesus “filled” with the Holy Spirit? Because He was made in human form just like us and did not depend on His own deity, but on the power of the Holy Spirit. When He returned from the Jordan after being baptized, the Holy Spirit came down upon Him and the Father spoke from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased.” Then, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. What happened next? He fasted for 40 days and then He was tempted.  And how did He overcome the temptations? Each time He said, “It is written…” “It is written…” “It is written…” and then we read at the end of the temptations,

14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. (Luke 4:14 NKJ)

He was still under the power of, and justified by, the Spirit. Then note Luke 5:17,

17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. (Luke 5:17 NKJ)

Why does it say “the power of the Lord was present” when it could have just said, “Jesus healed them.”  Because the power was not from Jesus, it was from the Holy Spirit! Look over at Luke 6:19,

19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. (Luke 6:19 NKJ)

There are two prepositions that could have been used to translate that word “from Him” and neither one is used.  Instead the preposition para is used from which we get parachurch, which means it’s not the church, it’s alongside the church. That is what this power was.  It was not Jesus’ power, it was the power of the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of being justified by the Spirit. You can look up Luke  8:46; Acts 10:38 and Hebrews 9:14, where the Holy Spirit was right there with Him when He offered Himself on the cross.

Jesus was completely dependent on the Holy Spirit, who declared Him righteous, so His substitution for us on the cross was accepted by the Holiness of the Father.

Last month, I needed a VISA card, so I pulled out my bank card and handed it to the cashier.  She swiped it and waited and then gave it back to me and said, “Your card is not valid.”  “Not valid!” I thought. You have to be kidding. I was embarrassed. I felt like I had handed someone a counterfeit bill! I never have a problem with my credit, but when I looked at the card, it had expired five months earlier and I had not used it since last summer.  That’s what happens when we try to live the Christian life on our own power – it’s not valid for a godly life.

That’s what Paul teaches in Philippians 3. He had achieved so much spiritually as a Pharisee and “Hebrew of Hebrews,” but none of that mattered to him. He only wanted to be found living in Christ,

9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. (Phil. 3:9-10 NKJ)

Paul said, “It’s not my righteousness, but what that Holy Spirit does in my life.” You live by faith, rather than by works. If you abide in the plan of God, you will be pronounced righteous. How do you live godly? Let God be manifested in your life and be justified by the Spirit, not your works.

3)    Let angels see God working in you

God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16 NKJ)

Angels were always watching Jesus. Luke recorded angels at His birth as they proclaimed to the shepherds, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” Matthew recorded that after the temptations of Jesus, angels came and ministered to Him (Matt. 4:11). When the devil tempted Jesus, what did He rely upon?  God’s Word and God’s Spirit.  He wasn’t dependent on Himself. That is what the angels were watching!

What are you to rely upon?  The same thing.  And the angels are watching as Peter recorded,

10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven– things which angels desire to look into. (1 Pet. 1:10-12 NKJ)

The Old Testament prophets searched very carefully regarding the promise of grace, but they did not understand it. They knew something was coming, but it had not been revealed to them.  It was a “mystery doctrine.” Notice that last line, “…things which angels desire to look into.” The angels are looking at your life, just as they did at Jesus’ life.  How do you live godly? Let God manifest Himself in you, let the Holy Spirit justify you in your dependence upon Him and God’s Word, and let the angels see that you are dependent on God rather than your flesh. The angels are watching! Note the fourth phrase.

4)    Live Jesus before the world

God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16 NKJ)

Jesus proclaimed the good news to all who would listen. Then He gave the great commission for all who believed on Him to follow. He said all authority had been given to Him so we are to,

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matt. 28:19-20 NKJ)

The gospel is both words and life, both preached and acted upon.  Paul wrote,

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom. 10:12-17 NKJ)

Our deeds show the Gospel lived out in life as truth,

17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18 NKJ)

God could have done a better job of proclaiming His message through trees, than using people, but He chose people. When I was up at Camp Grayling in 1996, I had two chaplain assistants with me and we were working on land navigation. I pointed out some large poplar trees that were clapping their leaves together. God uses even trees to praise His glory, but He especially wants us to preach Jesus by our words and our lives. How do you live godly? Let God manifest Himself through you, live a life justified by the Holy Spirit a life that unbelievers cannot, live holy and dependent on grace because you are observed by angels, and preach the good news around you. Let’s note the fifth phrase.

5)    Give the world something to believe

God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16 NKJ)

One would think the whole world would believe in Jesus.  Most did not.  How many Jews accepted Him as their Savior as a result of His physical presence on earth? Only a few. But the Lord directed through Peter that Christians always be ready, “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”  (1 Pet. 3:15 NKJ) We need to be ready. This is our mission.

6)    Be received in glory

God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16 NKJ)

Jesus was received up in glory and now sits at the right hand of the Father. Now, because of that you need to realize that one day if you have trusted in Jesus Christ, you also will be received in glory! Your life won’t be perfect, but you will be following Him. Consider back to Elijah. He was a man who stood against the false prophets of Baal. He even killed 450 prophets after the big challenge when God licked up the sacrifice with fire from heaven! But when Elijah heard the words of Jezebel, that she was going to kill him, he ran. He ran and ran. The Lord appeared to him and gave him food, and he ran some more.  But what happened at the end of Elijah’s life? God took him up to heaven in a chariot of fire! Whoa!

Paul wrote this about everyone who has followed Jesus,

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Rom. 8:29-30 NKJ)

There are five verbs here that describe what God does for each believer. God foreknew, predestined, called, justified and glorified. These actions are seen as already accomplished. You are not glorified, but that is how God sees you, if you are in Jesus. Have you taken Jesus as your Savior? I’m not talking about getting a lollipop so you can feel better. I’m not talking about taking out fire insurance.  I’m talking about accepting the gift of eternal life that radically changes your life. You go from spiritual deadness and separation from God to walking in Divine power that is unlike anything on earth. It gives you patience, when you would normally be angry and resentful. It gives you joy when you normally are discouraged. It gives you peace, when you are in the midst of emotional and physical turmoil. It changes your life so much that you want to share that new found life with others. But you need someone to disciple you. Elijah didn’t do everything right, but God took him in the chariot of fire. What’s the point?

Live like Jesus, by depending on God’s Spirit and Word to live through you!

  • You cannot live a godly life on your own.  Is. 64:6
  • You cannot contribute any righteousness to God Phil. 3:9-10
  • Humbly let God work through you (Gal. 2:20)  This is why the world rejects Christians and the church.  We point out where the world is wrong, but don’t live it ourselves. We judge rather than show mercy.

4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isa 6:4-8 NKJ)

How will we respond when we spiritually see the presence of the Lord?  The obvious response will be, “Yes, Lord yes. Here am I, send me!”

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)    When you were growing up, was there a person you thought was godly?  Describe that person.

Digging Deeper:

2)    What was revealed in the New Testament that was not revealed in the Old Testament? ______________ What is unique about each of the mystery truths mentioned below?

3)    Upon whom did Jesus depend during His earthly ministry? _____________  Why did Jesus have to rely upon the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1,14,18; 5:17; 6:19; Heb. 9:14)?

4)    Did the world recognize Jesus as the Son of God right away? _______________ What do the following passages prove about Jesus (Matt. 3:17; 7:29; 17:5; John 2:11; 3:2)?

Making application from the message:

5)    How do you let God live through you?  What is your part in it? (see the message notes)

6)    How would you disciple someone to live out each of the message principles?

7)    How do you explain to someone the difference between living righteous principles and living a godly life?

 Mystery Truth

  • The Mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven Matt 13:10-11
  • The Mystery of Israel’s partial blindness Rom. 11:25-32; 9:1-36
  • The Mystery of the translation of the saints, living and dead 1 Cor. 15:51-52
  • The Mystery of God’s divine will Eph. 1:9-10
  • The Mystery of the Church Eph. 3:3-10
  • The Mystery of the Church as the Bride of Christ Eph. 5:23-33
  • The Mystery of the Deity of Christ Col. 1:15-19; 2:2-3
  • The Mystery of the indwelling Christ Col. 1:25-27
  • The Mystery of iniquity 2 Thes. 2:7-9
  • The Mystery of the Faith 1 Tim. 3:9
  • The Mystery of godliness of the Christian 1 Tim. 3:16
  • The Mystery of Seven Stars and Seven Lampstands Rev. 1:20
  • The Mystery of the defeat of Satan Rev. 10:1-7; 11:15; 15;1; 16:7
  • The Mystery of Babylon Rev. 17:5

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