Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Identification of a Man of God

I just want to bring one verse to our attention as we consider what it is that identifies a true man of God as revealed in God’s Word. God’s Word is absolutely clear and lucid. It is not ambiguous or unclear. Perhaps we have one of the clearest examples of this here in 1 Timothy chapter six.

Paul writes: 1 Timothy 6:11 11 But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

The first identification of the man of God is that he will pursue after the things of God. He flees from the things such as the love of money and the constant desire to get rich (vv 6-10). But what are these things that the man of God pursues after? Let it be known that this is a present imperative giving the idea that this is to be the constant pursuit.

  1. Righteousness – This is the same root word that we find in the NT for that great and theologically pregnant concept of justification. We are to pursue perfect righteousness (that is, forensically speaking, the righteousness that we have through faith in Christ which is imputed to us through Jesus’ death thus counting us righteous before Almighty God). Though the word for “righteousness” most often in Paul’s writings has the idea of righteousness in relation to salvation, here it most probably has the idea of moral and purity righteousness. We are to pursue that perfection which is clearly exemplified in the person of Christ and how He lived life on this earth thus reflecting the character of God.
  2. Godliness – The term here is used for reverence, respect, godliness or piety. Every place this term is used in the NT it always refers to piety towards God in a holy life. The Christian is to be pursuing hard after that Christlike character so as to be more conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 12:1-2).
  3. Faith – If the man of God is already a Christian then why is he to pursue faith? Have you ever wondered this? The man of God is to persistently and passionately pursue faith because it is through faith that one is saved. Not just in a forensic sense, but also faith in a trusting sense. The same word for faith and trust can be pistis in the NT. We are to pursue the constant faith trusting in Christ looking forward to that city which has foundations, whose builder and architect is God, as did Abraham (Heb 11:10). Let us be constantly pursuing that trust knowing that God is perfectly good in all his doings. As we can say with the psalmist, Psalm 119:68 Thou art good and doest good; Teach me Thy statutes.
  4. Love – The man of God is also to pursue love. Love is actively pursuing the welfare and benefit of others. This is the love that Jesus exemplified on the cross at Calvary for sinners. This is the love that Jesus demonstrated as he girded himself with a towel and washed the dirty feet of the disciples (including Judas who would betray him in a matter of hours). This is the love that Jesus demonstrated faithfully and graciously on behalf of sinners who deserve nothing but his wrath.
  5. Perseverance – The man of God is also identified by pursing perseverance. This is the kind of perseverance which is contained in what is known as the five points of Calvinism. The fifth point is the perseverance (or sometimes also termed as the preservation of the saints) of the saints. This means that the true believer in Jesus Christ will persevere to the end. He will continue to walk in Christ on earth. There will be hard times. Yes. There will be trials. Yes. There will be doubts and discouragements and detours at times. Yes. But the true man of God is identified by his perseverance and his pursuit of perseverance in the things of God.
  6. Gentleness – The final mark identifying a man of God is his gentleness. It is interesting that Paul puts this last on his list. Not because it is least important. But oftentimes Paul may emphasize a point or word by putting it at the end of the sentence. The man of God is known by pursuing gentleness. He is to be constantly pursuing gentleness. This is not in junction with what we find in our culture today. In fact, if I were to walk on a Friday night down in Los Angeles and ask people if a man ought to be gentle I can only imagine the kinds of responses I would receive (probably not gentle ones!). The man of God is to be pursuing gentleness for this is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

The man of God is identified by these different marks. May we be the kind of man of God as laid forth by the Apostle Paul here in this one verse in 1 Timothy 6. Soli Deo Gloria.


Dave said...

Great Reminders Geoff, Appreciate the study and insights. Love it

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