MSG: Train Your Replacements: How to Disciple for Godliness 1 Tim. 4:6-11

This message was presented on April 6, 2014 as part of the series on 1 Timothy.

How many of you have seen the movie “Supersize Me!” At his own risk, Morgan Spurlock wrote the script and underwent an experiment to eat three meals a day at McDonalds for 30 days, without eating their salads. After a doctor’s checkup and approval, he began his journey. If the McDonald’s employee asked if he wanted his order supersized, he had to take it. The results were disastrous to his health!

God does not want you to live on spiritual “junk food” or become a spiritual “couch potato.” Jesus is even concerned about those who merely sit and soak in the Word, because they will sour. He wants you discipled for godliness so you can disciple others in and to godliness! How do you accomplish this? Notice the structure of the passage:

6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed (1 Tim. 4:6 NKJ)

And also note the last verse:

11 These things command and teach. (1 Tim. 4:11 NKJ)

Then look at the middle of the passage:

7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (1 Tim. 4:7-8 NKJ)

This is a poetic structure called “inclusio,” where there is a parallel in the beginning and the end of the passage and the middle explains what is important (from the Hebrew poetry chiasm). In other words, be engaged in directing, teaching and instructing and do it in “godliness.”

In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul exhorted Timothy to be alert to spiritual warfare and then warned him to disciple others to godliness. Why did he emphasize this? Because it is not easy. The human nature does not want to work to learn another system (godliness). The human nature wants what it wants. Discipling another can be similar to parenthood. What happens if you do not train the heart of children?

Godliness is not the goal of the Christian life, it is the basis! It is not the product of Bible study, it is the means by which we honor God and disciple others. Godliness is central to being a Christian. How do you disciple others in and to godliness?

1) Disciple followers in Scripture 1 Tim. 4:6

All through Scripture, there are directives to train up children, command the people, and instruct disciples. Why? Because our human sin nature resists being controlled. Paul wrote,

6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. (1 Tim. 4:6 NKJ)


Most of the Bibles read, “If you instruct…you will be a good minister,” although the New American Standard reads, “…in pointing out these things…you will be a good minister.” The point is the connection between the phrase “good minister” and the verb “instruct,” which means “to set underneath” or “lay out before.” Is parenting a challenge? Discipleship can be a challenge also, but the result of God’s Word is that you’ll be a good minister.

Then Paul wrote that both you and the followers will be nourished, not just educated, in the “words of faith”. This refers to what is believed (God’s Word), and the Biblical theology that it teaches about the glory of God, the majesty of Jesus and the empowering of His Spirit. The “good doctrine” refers to the systematic theology from all Scripture that deals with questions like, “What does Scripture teach about salvation?” or “What does Scripture teach about the church?” You will nourish your soul and understand how to live as you consume the purity of God’s Word. Just as good food is fuel for the body, so also pure truth is best for one’s spiritual life. Based on what is taught at church, you’ll be tested on your obedience to it. Your performance will be reflected in what you “eat” and good food yields alertness and productivity, while junk food (“supersized” kind) causes sluggishness and ineffectiveness.

Paul added, “…which you followed.” (parakoloutheo-) Paul discipled Timothy well and he was following well. Timothy grew in the midst of many adversaries. We saw last Sunday from 2 Tim. 2:24-26 that there will be opposition, even in the church. Paul clearly explained it in 1 Corinthians 16:9,

For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (1 Cor. 16:9 NKJ)

Therefore, keep discipling followers by teaching, exhorting and walking alongside. Is this only for pastors? Turn to 2 Timothy 1. Lois and Eunice filled their soul with truth and taught Timothy in an environment where he would learn. Paul wrote,

…when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. (2 Tim. 1:5 NKJ)

Grandmother Lois discipled her daughter Eunice and both discipled Timothy. Paul then added the principle of discipleship,

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim. 2:2 NKJ)

Disciple followers. How are they committed? Disciple followers in Scripture and you will be a good minister, servant of Jesus. But Paul warned, don’t forget about yourself!

2) Discipline yourself to godliness 1 Tim. 4:7-8

Paul wrote,

7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (1 Tim. 4:7-8 NKJ)

The word “exercise” is a command from the word “gumnazo-“ which means “remove all hindrances.” It refers to the athlete who removed clothing for freedom of movement in exercise. In the ancient world the Olympic athlete trained naked for freedom of movement and toughness of character in the cold and heat. The athlete chose to follow the instructions from the “gumnasi-arches,” which is Greek for the “ruler of the gymnasium.” He superintended the athletes. They had to do the right exercises, without doing what harmed the body. They couldn’t sneak out at night and party or run home for Mom’s apple pie!

Paul warned Timothy to reject myths, which he mentioned before in 1 Timothy 1:4 and “old wives fables,” that is, those who sit idle and just talk, which would include purposeless words and gossip.

A dear older lady, who is now with the Lord, quit going to church years before she died. She was alone in life more than 20 years after her husband died. When they moved her into an apartment she began hallucinating. She thought she was on television in her night gown. She used to think men would come down through her ceiling in the bathroom. I think the problem was she watched soap operas all day. Stay away from spiritual junk food, like soaps or talk shows that are not Biblically based. Why?

We need to pursue what is pure. Paul wrote,

11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Tim. 6:11-12 NKJ)

Then Paul set up a contrast between the physical and the spiritual. Physical exercise helps for a short time. Godliness has eternal value. How many of you have heard other people say that their New Years’ resolution is to start exercising? But by February, life “happened” and they gave up. I took a Pastoral Theology class that had all sorts of information regarding exercise and physical health in ministry. Was that what Paul was prescribing? I don’t think so. He did not define how often, how much or what kind of exercises to do. He was only making a comparison. Each person has to decide for himself what exercise he or she will do. What is Paul into?

Paul was concerned that Timothy, and hence you, would get the double blessing promise, “…having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” Now and in eternity “to come.” If you let up, you’ll forget and lose your spiritual growth.

The flesh will deceive and pull you backward. You realize you haven’t been consistent when you see a person running on television and think, “Boy, I should get out there and run also.” So you put on your sneakers and off you run, only to realize it’s harder than you thought! Friends, life is not about trophies or awards, it’s about godliness.

How do you get godliness? What does it take to be a gold medal winner in the Olympics? You have to say yes to some things and no to others. The same thing is true for godliness, but it is spiritual disciplines that are important, like Bible reading, Bible memorization, Bible meditation, prayer, fellowship, service, solitude, silence before God, etc. In order to disciple followers in Scripture, you have to discipline yourself to godliness. Sometimes that becomes a real drudgery. You may get sick, it gets cold outside, or life gets busy and you gasp from under the pile. What do you do?

3) Diligently pursue hope in Jesus 1 Tim. 4:9-10

Paul wrote,

9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. (1 Tim. 4:9-10 NKJ)

This is true and worthy of paying attention to. Paul said he “labored,” (kopiao-) which means “labor to the point of exhaustion.” The next phrase “suffer reproach” is the word “agonizomai.” What English word do we get from that? Yes, it is “agonize.” Paul used these same two words in Colossians 1:29,

To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Col. 1:29 NKJ)

Paul willingly did this for others. Why?

He told Timothy, “because we trust in the living God.” The word trust is a strong word that means to set hope on a person or object without wavering. It means “confident expectation” or “settled hope.” Peter perfectly wrote this concept, “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:13 NKJ) Paul added that Jesus is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. Those who believe are Christians and the expression “all men” refers to all mankind. We saw in 1 Timothy 2:1-7 this same Truth. Jesus didn’t die only for the Christians. Those who have not trusted in Jesus need to make that choice. Our purpose is to help men see this, which is how Paul concludes this passage.

4) Direct your conversations to godliness 4:11

Very simply, Paul closed with,

11 These things command and teach. (1 Tim. 4:11 NKJ)

The word “command” is a command and can be translated “declare alongside” or “direct.” Paul knew that Timothy was timid and fearful, and struggled with rejection and turmoil.

10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren. (1 Cor. 16:10-11 NKJ)

Timothy was inadequate, and lacked confidence. He was not the kind of pastor churches would select. But he was the person Paul knew would depend on the Lord, rather than on his own strengths. God can use that kind of person, because he is far more dependent on Him. Paul wanted Timothy to lead with the same authority that he did.

Paul also wanted Timothy to teach “these things,” which referred to godliness. We can really get pumped about basketball, football, hobbies, vacations, homes, cars and clothes, but only one thing really matters and that is godliness. Was this just for Timothy? Or for pastors? Jesus said,

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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. 28:18-20 NKJ)

We are commanded by Jesus to be shepherds and come alongside someone else. God raises up pastors to equip the saints for the work of ministry of discipling others.

Jesus is the living God!

Godliness in Jesus comes from the discipline of discipleship!

  • We must have nourishment from God’s Word to be godly. The Holy Spirit is your “gumnasiarch.” [You cannot become a spiritual lean mean green fighting machine eating Twinkies every day. Remember those Olympic bodies? What was their body fat? Pretty low. Gymnast Gabby said she splurged on an egg Mcmuffin after her events.]
  • Discipline implies self-control. Self-control results from the filling of the Holy Spirit. You can grow lethargic spiritually if you study only certain Biblical topics, such as prophecy. What matters is discipling followers now and everyone can choose to be disciplined to meet this challenge!

Diligence means you will labor to exhaustion and agonize in growing to godliness. You should be tired! Others may achieve rewards or trophies, but you will live in godliness through diligence. Others may have the business, the home, the cars, but you will live in godliness. Others may have the titles, the media attention and the fame, but you will live in godliness.

What happened to Morgan Spurlock? He put on 24 pounds, ate 12 pounds of fat, his heart and liver were in trouble. He uric acid was so high, he was facing gout and kidney stones. And he actually craved the McDonalds food that was killing him. What does that tell you about our bodies? Let’s pursue the purity of Scripture to serve our living Lord Jesus!

 Message Based Discussion Questions

  • Do you exercise very much? What motivates you or what prevents you from exercising?

Digging Deeper:

  • What should you use to disciple followers of Jesus? ____________ What are some specifics you would want to disciple from it for godliness?
  • If it is wrong to do what you’re not supposed to do, does it matter if you don’t do what you are supposed to do? ____________ Based on this passage what are the things Paul directs Timothy to do and therefore all of us?
  • Based on the message text, for whom did Jesus die? __________ Do any of the following passages give any other teaching (cf. John 1:29; 3:16; 4:42; 1 Tim. 1:15; 2:1-6; 4:10; 1 John 2:2; 4:14; 5:19)?

Making application of the message to life:

  • What are at least five things that seem to hinder a Christian’s walk/ run with God?
  • How difficult is it to direct conversations to focus on and continue in godliness?
  • How would you disciple another to live in godliness? What topics would you cover?

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