Please turn to 1 Timothy 4:6-8. In this passage, Paul turns his attention to Timothy to provide guidance regarding his ministry. However, even those passages that are directed to ministers have something to say to God's people because all of us are called to be good servants of the Lord. Specifically, there are five things that Paul tells Timothy that are important for his life and ministry. First, Paul tells Timothy that he will be ministering faithfully if he is aware of and warns the congregation about false teaching. Then, Paul tells Timothy that good servants of Jesus Christ are nourished on solid biblical teaching. Next, Paul says that false doctrine hurts people because it is unprofitable. Then, he tells Timothy that faithful ministers ought to strive for the cultivation of personal godliness. Finally, Paul says that faithful ministers need to have a proper estimation of the importance of personal godliness. So even as Paul gives a specialized word to Timothy, who is a pastor in the local church, his words apply to all of us because we all long to be good servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.   

I. The Good Servant of Jesus Christ Exposes and Alerts Others to False Teaching.

In verse 6, Paul says, “In pointing out these things to the brethern, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus.” Paul is talking about the false doctrine that he has previously addressed in this letter. He is reminding Timothy that one mark of a faithful minister is that he not only faithfully teaches what the Bible says is true, but he also warns the people of God against that which is not in accord with the Bible. So one of the things you need to look for in a faithful teacher of God’s Word is someone who not only says what the Bible teaches, but also says what the Bible teaches against, and helps you to become more discerning about the dazzling variety of false teaching that is out there. Therefore, Paul says that the good servant of Jesus Christ uncovers and alerts God’s people to false teaching.  

II. The Good Servant of Jesus Christ is Nourished on Sound Teaching. 

In verse 6, Paul also says that the good servant of Jesus Christ is “constantly nourished on the words of faith and of the sound doctrine.” Paul is reminding Timothy that good pastors themselves are nourished on solid biblical teaching. If that is true for preachers, it is also true for those who sit in the pews of the church listening to preaching. Paul is saying, “Grow up on sound doctrine. Be nourished by sound teaching. Feed on Bible instruction and application.” The only way we will ever grow up in the faith is to be nourished on sound Bible teaching. We are able to face the challenges of the Christian life because our minds have been transformed, being renewed by the work of the Holy Spirit so that we no longer are conformed to the thinking of the world, but we have been renewed in our minds according to the Word of God.

III. The Good Servant of Jesus Christ Realizes that False Teaching is Unprofitable. 

At the beginning of verse 7, Paul says, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women.” Paul is addressing the message of false teachers. He is saying that false teaching is empty and unprofitable. Because it is empty and unprofitable, it is harmful, and it hurts people. Why? Because it cannot build them up. It cannot really help them in the Christian life. If God's truth is for the living of the Christian life and to make us more like Him then false teaching cannot produce those things. The more we are preoccupied with something which is not the truth of God's Word, the less we are becoming like Jesus Christ, and the less we are growing in grace. False doctrine contributes nothing constructive to the Christian life and consequently is harmful. For those of us who are not preachers but who are members of the church, serving the Lord, sitting in the pews, ministering day to day, we need to be aware that false teaching is unprofitable and avoid it just like Timothy was instructed to avoid it.

V. The Good Servant of Jesus Christ Engages in Spiritual Discipline with the Goal of Godliness in View. 

In the second half of verse 7, Paul says, “On the other hand discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Paul is saying to Timothy that the good servant of Jesus Christ engages in spiritual discipline with the goal of godliness in view. The good servant of the Lord deliberately practices and trains with a view to the cultivation of spiritual worship in all of life. Paul has just been teaching about false teachers who have been suggesting to the people of God that godliness is gained through external rites and rituals. Paul says that we do not gain godliness through such external manifestations. Instead, he says we  need to exercise and work to grow in grace with a goal to godliness. Paul is saying in verse seven, “work out for godliness.” He is telling us to deliberately practice and train with a view to the cultivation of spiritual worship. We are to actively cultivate godliness. Paul is telling us to discipline ourselves that we might live the Christian life. Spending time with God in prayer, reading and meditating on God’s Word, and listening to faithful, sound preaching - these things prepare us for the living of the Christian life. You are invited into the Christian life into a fight against sin. Preparing for that fight is not going to be easy, and the fight itself is not going to be easy. However, the fight will be easier if you have disciplined yourself for the purpose of godliness. 

V. The Good Servant of Jesus Christ Realizes the Value of Growing in Godliness. 

In verse 8, Paul says, “for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” In other words, he tells us that we are to prize godliness. He is saying to us, “You ought to want godliness more than perfect health.” Paul is telling us to remember that spiritual discipline makes a difference in this life and the life to come. We can only be godly by grace. It takes the work of God's Holy Spirit in us to grow in grace. But Paul makes it clear that growing in the Christian life is something that is both passive and active. God is at work in us to grow us in grace, but we must work out that sanctification in fear and trembling. May God, by His Spirit and His Word, teach us the truth that He would have us learn for the living of the Christian life.