…preparing ourselves to be ready “for every good work”, strong in the faith
In our walk as believers, the biblical norm we aspire towards as Christians is an extremely high standard. In fact, it is an impossible norm – unless we are consistently filled with the Holy Spirit. Are you? The only way we can be who we truly are in Christ – is to be filled by His Spirit.
In the two books of Timothy, 1st and 2nd Timothy, the Apostle Paul of course writes specifically to …Timothy. But Scripture is for all of us to heed, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 17 so that the man of God [a I.e. all believers whether man, woman, or child.] may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Be ready! We all – whether man, woman, or child – are to be preparing ourselves to be strong in the faith, “thoroughly equipped”, ready “for every good work”, and really really good at it (“complete and proficient”)! (Or do you want to be really really bad at it?! Of course not.)
Paul says to all believers: “Fulfill your ministry.” –2 Timothy 4: verse 5. Whatever gifts you have been given… “fulfill your ministry” as the Lord empowers you.
Paul is writing specifically to Timothy, but it behooves all of us living in the Spirit to be ready to preach, correct, warn, exhort and encourage others. This is what all of us do as we walk in the Spirit. It is not “the preacher’s job!” It is not talking about a vocation, but rather an outpouring of the Spirit through our yielded life, through the gifts God has given us for the good of others. That’s us! You. Me. All Christians. That is the norm.
The norm is to be ready. God is forging us in the fire – to be what He is designing us to be.
2 Timothy 4:2 Amplified Bible (AMP)
…preach the word [as an official messenger];
be ready when the time is right
and even when it is not
[keep your sense of urgency,
whether the opportunity seems favorable or unfavorable,
whether convenient or inconvenient,
whether welcome or unwelcome];
correct [those who err in doctrine or behavior],
warn [those who sin],
exhort and encourage
[those who are growing toward spiritual maturity],
with inexhaustible patience
and [faithful] teaching.
- Do you have your faith “down” – knowing enough to preach it?
- Do you have an attitude of being “an official messenger”, an Ambassador’s worldview? [2 Corinthians 5: verses 18-20]
- Do you love your family and friends enough, is your faith “complete” enough — to biblically “correct” them… those “who err in doctrine or behavior“? Not scold and condemn, but rather …with love and patience…?
- What are you doing to prepare yourself to be ready?
I actively press on. The Apostle Paul was, as much as is possible – an expert at holiness. Wouldn’t you say? And yet, he sinned. He said “12 Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect“. He said, “…I do not consider that I have made it my own yet….”
How come!? Why would an apostle sin!?
Athletes work-out at the gym or on the field — to be the best they are capable of, right? Yet they cannot finally say one day, “I am now done with working-out. I am the best I can be!” No way! Inside he knows he can be more, better.
He must continually hit the gym, practice, and practice… work at it. Keep sharp and ready. Paul even said this. See 1 Corinthians 9: verses 24-27.
24 [g]Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours!
25 Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a [h]crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither].
26 Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. 27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].
The same is true for the believer in Christ. We must “work at it” daily – continually strive to be holy — ready, steady, and able. Our aim is to be like Christ! Think you’re there yet? Of course not!
As we strive to be holy, at the same time, we must believe Paul with what he said in Philippians 3:12-16. He basically says: You will not attain “it” here! But keep pressing on. Do not accept your sins, but don’t get discouraged by your continued sinfulness. Part of maturity in Christ is learning to continually come to Him in repentance.
Philippians 3:12-16 Amplified Bible (AMP)
12 Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on [e] so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.
13 [f]Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you.
16 Only let us stay true to what we have already attained. – Philippians 3:12-16
(1) the world,
(2) the flesh and
(3) the Devil.
According to the Apostle Paul – you will struggle. But don’t condemn yourself! Don’t give in. (And don’t go around gossiping about the sin struggles of other believers!) Instead: confess your sin and weakness (to God and “one to another”– and, if reasonable – to whoever you offended – James 5:16), then forget the past, and reach forward!
The Devil is the worst – he berates, condemns, tears-down, and really messes with you. And, unfortunately, so do some fellow believers who gossip about your failures! But not God. The Holy Spirit encourages, strengthens, and helps pick you up when you fall. And, thankfully, so do some believers who exercise their gift of encouragement.
The MMA fighter lets a right past his guard
and is flattened.
He cannot give up!
The wrestler gets pinned on the mat
– but he cannot give up!
The front lineman fails to stop the rusher
and the quarterback is sacked.
He cannot give up!
The sprinter gets beat.
He cannot give up!
What are you failing at? Don’t give up! What is that “sin that easily besets you”? Work at it – not letting it reign over you! Keep coming back to the Lord with it.
Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Don’t make it “your norm”. Don’t just say, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” Or, “How perfect do I have to be!” We’ve said it, or you’ve heard it said before, a lot:
- “This is me. Accept me. It’s just the way I’m made.”
- “I can’t stop getting angry at those drivers!”
- “The way those sexy girls dress – I just can’t stop….”
- “If I could – I’d nail that guy. He’s such a loser.”
- “I just can’t NOT stop-by those casinos!”
- “When I am with friends – I just HAVE to tell them what I heard about (Jack)….”
- “I’m not the one! He is the problem! It’s natural to get p’oed, raise my voice at him.”
- “I just can’t keep my mouth shut….”
- “Okay, I admit it: ‘I’m a real worry-wart’. That’s just the way I am.”
- “I just can’t get up to go to church when that alarm goes off….”
- “Can’t stop how I feel. I hate that neighbor guy. What a piece a’ work he is.”
Failing and getting beat is a part of being a good athlete – the same as is winning. But you don’t expect to lose! Expect that you are strong in the Spirit and you CAN be holy. You keep your focus on your goal, and you don’t look back. A good motto is something like: “Keep on keepin’ on!”
Paul explains sin and holiness in Romans 6. As believers we have a choice every moment of every day:
- I either choose God’s way, or I choose the way of the flesh.
- I either “let sin reign” in my life (v12-13a), or I “offer [myself] to God [in a decisive act]” (v13b).
- I either act in a sinful way, or I act in a holy way.
As Romans 8:13 puts it, through perseverance I am
- not giving in to “the [impulses of the] flesh”
- “habitually putting to death the sinful deeds of the body”
This is continual, constant – for all believers… until we arrive in heaven. The exhortation of Paul is:
I would put it this way (amplified Swift version of Romans 6:13 – using my own words with the actual biblical text):
12 So pay attention to this: Do not let any sin reign in your life. You have the power to do this because His Spirit is within you. Do not obey those sinful lusts and passions you have – which we all struggle with in our inner soul.
13 Do not go on throughout your day constantly making choices to sin – like as if you are some blunt force instrument of evil. But instead, choose God! Constantly, throughout your day, keep on consciously interacting with God (the Holy Spirit inside of you). In a decisive act of choice, by the power of your will, choose God’s way. You can because you were raised from the dead and you now have a brand new life. It was given to you when you were born again. So act like it – by God’s power within you! Rely on God’s power within you. Make all of your abilities act as “made by God for holy living”. Yield to God. – (This is my own Swift version of Romans 6:13.)
From 2 Timothy 4:2 Amplified Bible (AMP):
be ready to
“with inexhaustible patience
and [faithful] teaching”
That means all of us. Not just the paid staff.
- Source: Biblegateway.com Note: Romans 6:19
- [d] There are three basic kinds of sanctification in the NT:
(1) Positional sanctification is based on the death of Christ. Every believer is a saint and is holy before God. The believer is “set apart for God” and in some instances “set apart for God’s purpose” (Heb 10:10, 14, 29);
(2) Practical sanctification is a progressive process and means “growing in righteous living” as the believer matures spiritually (Rom 6:13; 1 Thess 5:23; 1 Pet 1:16);
(3) Ultimate sanctification is that which is to come when the believer stands before God
- [d] There are three basic kinds of sanctification in the NT: