I Timothy 6:11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
I was visiting a lady in Grand Manan once whose husband had recently died. Grand Manan is a small island in the Bay of Fundy, a mere 55 square miles in area (compared to Toronto, which is 630 square miles). The Anglican pastor had been in to see her shortly before I had. In Grand Manan, every pastor pastored everybody to a certain degree, because everybody knew everybody and the degrees of separation were a lot closer than 6. In any case, in the course of the conversation, I mentioned that Pastor Atkinson and I were good friends and that we met for prayer and our families got together frequently. “He is a real man of God” she replied.
What did she mean? What is a man of God? In I Timothy 6:11, Paul calls Timothy a “man of God”. Timothy, and my friend, were church leaders; Timothy a pastor and overseer of churches and my friend a pastor. Is that what a man of God is? Well, I hope that pastors are men of God but that is not what the phrase means. Paul is not telling Timothy that because he is a church leader he is a man of God. He is saying that because he is a Christian he is a real man of God. The woman in Grand Manan meant, I think, that my friend took his holiness seriously, he sought to do as God wanted him to do. He lived out the claims of the Gospel in his life. And she was right. People of God are the people that God makes. Gospel changed people – not super saints, not miracle workers. Just saved people who show that they truly are children of God.
Let’s consider a few things about being a “man (woman, mature believer) of God”
Men of God are, in the words of this text, people who flee from sin. They are people who chase after righteousness. They are people who fight the good fight of the faith. They are Christians.
But in these opening thoughts regarding “man of God” let us ask ourselves if we fit the definition. When Paul addresses Timothy here he does not say “O man”. He does not say “O you who have been baptized”, or “O church member”, or “O Pastor”, “O teacher” or “O missionary” or “O you who came forward when the invitation was given”. He says “O man of God”. So here is the question we need to consider about ourselves: Is this text addressed to me? How do you know? How do you know that when Paul says “O man of God, that he could legitimately be talking to you?”
Paul tells Timothy two things he must do, indeed will do, if he is a true man of God, a real Christian. Flee and Pursue. Run away and run toward. These are two essential marks of a true believer/saved person/Christian.
II Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Is that you dear one?
That, is a man of God. Is it you? Can you say that in Christ you are a new creation? Not sinless, or perfect, or never struggling with sin.. But are you different from what you were before you professed faith in Christ? Jesus makes new creations. And those new creations show in their behaviour what hey have been made into. The old well known story is told of Spurgeon or Moody or Wesley (I have heard it told of each of them), about the drunk lying in the street and the companion of whoever it was said “That is one of your converts” “It must be” the preacher replied, it cannot be the Lord’s”.
Romans 7:21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
If Paul were to address you and said these verses about you, would he be correct? Do you struggle with sin? Is your conscience horrified at your own sins most of all; more than the sins of others; more than the sins of the ungodly or the people you worship with? Do you hang on to the free grace of God in Christ and look nowhere else for hope than by faith to look to Jesus the Author of that faith?
I John1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Now then – if Paul were to call you a man of God would he be able to do so because he knew that your sin breaks your heart and you confess it to God through Christ because you know that only what Christ has done for you can deal with your sin – so you ask Him to do it?
I Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Could Paul call you a man of God because he could list your lifestyle from the past and know that it is part of your past? This is said to the Corinthians church of all people. If any group of believers in the New Testament had issues with sin and division in the church and bad doctrine – it was these guys. But Paul could say of even this troubled church that its sinful lifestyle was a thing of the past. The bar is not set too high when we consider the Corinthian church dear ones. It is not set high at all. We come to Christ on the basis of His work, His efforts, His merits, not our own. It is not about us being able to jump over a very high bar. It is about an enormously high, impossible to jump over bar that only Jesus could clear – and has – for helpless sinners. But His work, His efforts, His merits, when applied to the heart of a rebellious sinner changes that sinner so that what is said of the Corinthians is said of every true believer in Jesus Christ – “Such were some of you”.
Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
What of it? If the Apostle Paul were to write you and call you a man of God, would it be because he knew you were taking up your cross on a daily basis and walking in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Ephesians 4:1 – I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called… .
Could Paul know about you that you are striving to walk in a manner worthy of your calling? Can you read Ephesians 1-3 and prove through your life that what those 3 chapters say about being a believer is true of you?
Col. 3:1 – If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God… 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry… 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
What of this? Have you been risen with Christ from the deadness of your sin and therefore are seeking the things that are from above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father? Have put to death what is earthly about you? And have you put on the qualities Paul mentions in verses 12 -13? No? Then you are not a man of God. You are not a believer.
“Man of God”; not super saint not pastor Timothy not a lot of things that we might put here instead of what is meant. This is simply addressed to Christians. Is it addressed to you?