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Fighting the Spritual Battle of Faith (1 Timothy 6:1-21) – Mark Ottaway

Fighting the Spiritual Battle of Faith

1 Timothy 6:1-21


Turn to 1 Timothy 6. This is our last week in 1 Timothy and beginning in two weeks we will carry on through 2 Timothy for the summer. This last chapter in 1 Timothy could be a chapter that just seems to throw a bunch of commands and instructions at us and we can tend to feel a little overwhelmed by it all, but actually it is not, as this chapter ties so much together. Many of you who did your homework this week have seen that I tried to give some structure to this passage, that Paul is addressing spiritual labour, spiritual health, spiritual purity, spiritual service, and spiritual wisdom. And 1 Timothy 6 is full of instructions. And this is part of the gospel as we who claim the name of Christ and have been born again have the unique privilege of obedience to these instructions. And we realize that we can never be fully obedient or perfect in any sense, as we will wrestle with the flesh as long as we are in these human bodies. Yet the Christian life is full of the desire to be like Christ. For we have the Word of God to guide us and we have the indwelling HS to motivate us to continue to strive for godliness, knowing that our ultimate salvation is based upon the righteousness of Christ, yet we can still rejoice in that Christ is also working in us. The Apostle Paul explains this well in Phil 2:12-13:

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Phil 2:12-13 (LSB)


Important for us to know that these are not instructions whereby we might gain salvation, but they are instructions for the one who has been saved and is being changed by the Spirit of God, the one who is becoming more and more like our Saviour. So, there are two dangers that we can fall into in a list such as this. One, we can believe that by obeying these things we will be saved, which is the danger of Pharisaism. In other words, being legalistic, that misses a broken-hearted dependence upon God, on His mercy extended to us through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Yet two, the other extreme, is that we miss the transforming work of Christ in us. That the unmerited work of Christ to us is without purpose, missing that we were saved for a reason. So, two things to remember as we go through these verses. One, we are saved by the work of Christ, by His righteousness alone. And two, we must strive to be like Christ and therefore this entire chapter is the goal for the true believer.


So, if you have studied this chapter this week, I have given you some headings to help you in this passage all centred around Paul’s exhortation to (vs 12) “fight the good fight of faith.” And I trust that studying this passage over the past few days will help us better grasp the amount of information that Paul is giving to us this morning. This will not be a lesson to go through those questions I gave to you, but the questions were given so that you would be familiar with the passage as we have much to get through. And what I would like to do this morning is to add to each heading I gave you with a “therefore” statement.

“All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be slandered. But those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brothers, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.”

1 Tim 6:1-2 (LSB)




Therefore, work hard, especially hard if your boss is a believer … for respecting your boss is a way of proclaiming the truth (vs 1-2).


We are to work so that (vs 1) the name of God and our doctrine will not be slandered. This verse shows that the entirety of our lives is tied in with God and truth. I would say that we often connect God’s name with how we live as we might with our family name, as we understand that how we live is connected to the honour of our family and with the honour of God. In other words, if I am known as a Christian and my testimony is not good at the workplace, this places a question on God in the minds of those who look at my life. For there is a clear connection, hard work and integrity at the workplace, equals a high view of God. Now, how I work does not affect the greatness of God, it is the view of God that is affected. For if a so-called believer is caught in a sin or found out to be a false believer, this does not change the status of God Himself, but it does in the eyes of the world.


But I also notice in this passage that poor work habits also bring slander to our doctrine or to what we believe. In other words, our whole belief system breaks down when the Christian is lazy or sloppy. As the Christian life of sincerity and godliness brings credit to Christ, so too, a fall from that pierces at the heart of Christianity. As true Christianity should draw us to a life of purposefulness that is lived at the workplace, whether that workplace is at home, at a place of business, or wherever it might be. And it is interesting that the expectation is even higher when the boss is a believer. So, I suppose if you wanted to work a little less, don’t work for a believer. I actually do not believe the verse is encouraging that, as it is really saying that if you have an unbelieving boss, you must respect them and serve them greatly. And in the case of a Christian boss, your respect level can even be higher as you have a greater position to serve even more. As often in the case of working for a Christian, we may have greater freedom of testimony for the Lord. And hard work begins at an early age, as children learn to work, and as a student with a part-time job. And your respectfulness of your boss, even when others may criticize him, is tightly connected with your testimony as a Christian. So, work hard, especially hard if your boss is a believer, for respecting your boss is a way of proclaiming the truth. Secondly:




Therefore, strive for godliness and contentment … for the opposite of this is envy, strife, slander, evil suspicions, friction, foolish and harmful desires, and grief (vs 3-10).


Paul says a lot here in connection with what I have called spiritual health. We hear a lot these days about mental health and we even hear much in Christian circles about spiritual health. And Paul seems to draw this discussion around the words (vs 3), the doctrine conforming to godliness. And here are some things that Paul warns about:

“[H]e is conceited, understanding nothing but having a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”

1 Tim 6:4-5 (LSB)


This goes back to the Christian we said last week about our religion being lived and not just talked about. This would seem to be the one whose religion is merely talked about. It is interesting that we can struggle at times with some of the language of the Bible. Not only that it has been translated for us from Hebrew and Greek, but it also expands from 2,000 to 4,500 years, making the cultural leap difficult. But we notice here that there may have been the same problem, as even the New Testament believers were reading the Old Testament that was written 2,500 years before them. And this is a warning to us that we want to keep a clear understanding of the Bible without controversial questions and disputes that only bring constant friction. Which I believe teaches us that yes, some things are hard to understand in the Bible, but overall, the Bible is meant to be taken as it is written without deep secrets that mean different things to different people. Important that we try as Christians when we study the Bible to come to an agreement based upon the clear meaning of the text. But here is Paul’s focus when it comes to having a spiritually sound mind or spiritual health, godliness and contentment.

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evils, and some by aspiring to it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

1 Tim 6:6-10 (LSB)


Paul gives a remedy for envy, strife, friction, harmful desires, ruin, destruction, grief, and all sorts of evils, and that is simply being content with (vs 8) food and covering. This is the heart of contentment for the Christian, as much of our grief comes from either trying to keep the things that we have, or trying to get the things we do not have. It is interesting that right after Paul tells the Christian to work hard, he then tells the Christian to be content with merely food and covering. Whereas our view would be that the one who doesn’t work very much might only end up with food and covering, while the one who works hard ends up with a lot. Question? Could the one who works extremely hard all his life end up with just food and covering and be content with that? Yes, it would sound that way from Paul’s challenge to us. And I know I could try to soften this here to make us all feel better, yet we need to do this passage justice, as we all have to take heed of the warning here.

“But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

1 Tim 6:9 (LSB)


This is all over Paul’s teaching, as he said this the church in Philippi:

“For many walk—of whom I often told you, and now tell you even crying—as enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their stomach and glory is in their shame, who set their thoughts on earthly things.”

Phil 3:18-19 (LSB)


Who are these people? Well, these are not people out in the world, no, Paul is writing to a church here. These are people who claim to be Christians, yet they live like enemies of the cross, as contentment must be connected with a life of godliness. Listen to the policy of Christian publishers, Crossway books that I found interesting, as their view on this is something to consider:

“We are a not-for-profit ministry and exist solely for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel through publishing and other means. Any surplus that may arise shall be used solely to further the ministry and shall not inure [contribute] to the benefit of the individual.”

Crossway Books


As we have been taught over the years that wealth is a blessing from God, but it can also be a great temptation and a snare, as Paul does not give this warning to those who are poor, but to the rich in the heart of a passage that encourages hard work, whom he exhorts to strive for godliness and contentment. Thirdly:




We notice here that Paul does not just say, be godly and content, and therefore, warns of all sorts of evil. But he gives direction on how this is to be done in the life of the Christian. After telling us to work very hard and to be content with only covering and food, what are we supposed to do?

“But you, O man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal might! Amen.”

1 Tim 6:11-16 (LSB)


Therefore, run after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness, and cling to eternal life … for this will distance you from a lot of bad stuff (vs 11-16).


Bad stuff, right? I mean who wants envy, strife, friction, and grief? And the reason I have called this “spiritual purity” is because the word purity can mean to keep your focus or your pursuits in life, to keep them pure, as anything that would keep you from righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness are impurities. They may be sins, but they may also be things that would simply keep us from our spiritual priorities. Many things in life would not be considered sins, but if they keep you from ministry, the study of God’s Word, from spiritual growth, from the unity with God’s people here, they all become avenues that keep us from righteousness.


I had asked the question in your study notes this week (vs 13) that Jesus Christ testifies the good confession before Pontius Pilate. Why does Paul include this in an area about spiritual purity? What does the good confession of Christ before Pilate have to do with this? Well actually, Jesus said very little to Pilate. I looked up the account in Matthew and Jesus merely agreed with Pilate’s statement that He was the King of the Jews (Matt 27:11) that is all He said. The same thing in Mark 15:2 and Luke 23:3, that is all that is recorded. So, this leaves only the Gospel of John, where Pilate suggests that he had the power to release Jesus. And Jesus then tells Pilate that he had no authority over Him, except that it had been given to him from above. But it is the other words that Jesus spoke to Pilate in John’s gospel that likely point to Jesus’ good confession before Pilate (John 18) that Paul is referring to here, where He says to Pilate:


“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be delivered over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not from here.’ Therefore Pilate said to Him, ‘So You are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You yourself said I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’”

John 18:36-37 (LSB)


What Paul may be pointing to here is the same connection he made at the beginning of the Christian’s work ethic and that is He points to the truth, that everyone who is of the truth hears the voice of Christ. And the assumption would be, he obeys the voice of Christ. Yes, there will be those who claim Christ who depart from the faith, and there will be those who will bring disrepute to the Christian faith. But there will also be those who are true believers, this group of Christ-followers, who will obey the voice of Christ. And this connects as well to (vs 14) to keep the commandment without stain or reproach. That those who are Christ-followers will strive to keep His commandment. And our 1 Timothy 6 passage that by holding to our Lord’s good confession, and being obedient to His commandment of following Him (vs 12) we take hold of that which is eternal. That as we might be tempted to cling to things that are of temporal worth only, Jesus, the One we are following, and His kingdom are eternal and all who claim the name of Christ also give their attention to that which is eternal and not to the temporal, (vs 16) to Him be honour and eternal might! Interesting when Paul gave that warning to some within the church in Philippi, that they have set their thoughts on earthly things. Right after he said this:

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Phil 3:20 (LSB)


Therefore, Paul’s thrust here is to run after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness, and cling to eternal life for this will distance you from a lot of bad stuff. Fourthly:




“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”

1 Tim 6:17 (LSB)


This is a direct verse to those who are rich, which in some sense includes many of us in our influential society. And this is likely not geared towards unbelievers, but those within Timothy’s church.

Command them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”

1 Tim 6:18-19 (LSB)


Therefore, be rich in good works and be generous … for this will be your greatest investment (vs 17-19).


Paul uses the term “rich” here to extend to eternal things, and he gives specific instructions on how this should be done. One, command them to do good. We do not often think of such things as a command. It would be interesting if you had someone over for lunch or you simply did something for them and they responded and said, wow, that was a nice thing you did. And we responded, well, the Lord told me to do good. I was just being obedient to the Lord. This is actually the only time the Bible states this, do good, and it refers to something of eternal value or a high quality of good, noble or excellent. And we could assume from the context that those with money need to use it for such things, for doing good. The second thing is to be rich in good works. This means that these types of acts are done often and without holding back. It is not done minimally but it is done to the maximum. The third thing is to be generous. This would suggest the motive behind the giving, that it is done joyfully, and not grudgingly. And then finally, ready to share. That the person who has the resources is looking for ways to bless others, that this is a priority for them, they are eager to do this


Why? Verse 19, it is the best of investments, as it is storing up treasures in heaven. It actually can have the same meaning as “hoarding up” treasures. But in this case, it is an eternal treasure, not an earthly temporal treasure. It would be like having a bank book, if you remember the old bank books where they used to slide them into the machine and it would show your deposit. Or even older than that, when the teller used to manually write in my $8 deposit babysitting money from Mr. Ewald. Unless it was Mrs. Ewald and I got $10. When I used to babysit for them when I was in grade 9, and they came home, Mr. Ewald used to always round down and Mrs. Ewald used to always round up. So, I would make sure that I stayed closer to her when they arrived.


I do remember trying to pay off our mortgage. I think our oldest was about in grade eight, and I had a graph on the fridge and had a plan to have our mortgage paid off in a few short years. And then those boys all started to hit high school, and that goal on the fridge had to be placed on hold for a while. Not trying to discourage you with growing children, but those teenage years usually bring some extra expenses. But kidding aside, Paul is saying this is like depositing in a heavenly bank book. Not watching your earthly account go up, but watching your heavenly account go up. And the return on your investment will come later on in eternity, though there is also the promise of the present joy in giving. Therefore, be rich in good works and be generous for this will be your greatest investment. Finally:




“O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, turning aside from godless and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge— which some, while professing, have gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.”

1 Tim 6:20-21 (LSB)


That is an interesting phrase, “guard what has been entrusted to you.” This would include everything that the Lord has blessed Timothy with: his salvation, his resources, his knowledge, and the church congregation he oversees. Guard what has been entrusted to you. Why? Well, there are going to be a lot of needless things talked about that didn’t really matter. And because Timothy, some who are part of your ministry are going to bodily walk away from the faith and there may be others that mentally check out of the faith. So, the “therefore” statement #5:


Therefore, guard the truth … for this is the responsibility of every Christ-follower (vs 20-21).


And we hear the heart of Paul here (vs 20) “O Timothy,” this being his last words in his first letter to Timothy, “O Timothy.” The value of loving someone and being direct with someone. That we might say to an unbeliever we greatly care about, “O John,” or a son or a daughter about staying true to their faith, “O Kathy.” Have you ever had someone be that direct with you? Or someone that you have been that direct with. You are not nagging at them. You are not angry with them. No, you just deeply care for them and love them. And we hear the heart of Paul to likely one of his closest and most loyal companions, who was younger in age, “O Timothy.” guard what has been entrusted to you.


You know we often talk about the privilege of the gospel, that because we have heard and because the Lord gave us ears to hear and eyes to see, and therefore, we were saved. But oh, the responsibility of the gospel, that we read it, we hear it week-by-week, a gospel that has been both given to us but also entrusted to us. And Paul would say to us as he has said to Timothy, stay right on that track of what our Lord has commanded. That of being a Christ-follower, demands that we keep our eyes on that which is eternal. Because this is spiritual wisdom, obeying the voice of Christ in all things. This is what being a Christian truly is, isn’t it? It is obeying Christ. Forsaking a life of sin, repenting of that sin, and turning, following Jesus, and being obedient to Him. We could call 1 Timothy 6 a manual, not a manual of how to be a Christian, but a manual on how a Christian lives in the world with an eternal perspective. Jesus said in John 5:24:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

John 5:24 (LSB)

This is why Peter preached that there is salvation in no one else, except in Christ Jesus. For He alone can save, and therefore, He alone must be followed. What if someone asked you the question, are you a Christian? He could then ask you, are you then a Christ-follower? Let’s pray. Lord, we pray for every heart here this morning, that their confidence in salvation, their confidence about their eternal destiny, would be in Christ alone, and in nothing else. Might we as believers here at Elim Bible Chapel, be known more than anything else as Christ-followers, that we live and breathe Jesus Christ, that daily we understand our responsibility in fighting the spiritual battle set before us. So, keep us from that which is false, false knowledge, a false lifestyle, and keep us from that which is temporal. And focus on Him who we would proclaim as the One who must be honoured and who is eternal. And all God’s people said, amen.