Yield to the blessed Spirit of God and let Him make you holy.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you?
Yes, I wait for you to answer. Why not? Because I’m interested to know how things are at your house. Hope everything’s going alright, bless your heart. This is your good friend, Bob Cook. I’m glad to be back with you.
We’re looking at 1 Timothy, chapter 3: the qualifications for a pastor or a bishop or an evangelist or a full-time Christian worker. They’re all there and, this is particularly true, however, of pastors. The word “bishop” in 1 Timothy 3:1 is our word “pastor,” generally speaking.
Well, we were in verse 4, where he says that the Christian leader’s to be one that cares for his own household, “having his children in subjection with all gravity.” We were looking at that word – “gravity” – the last time we got together. Do you remember that? Greek word “semnotetos,” which means “dignity” and, of course, “gravity.” Awareness of the seriousness of life – don’t fool around with it.
Then it means “majesty” – the qualities, actually, of God’s own nature re-duplicated in you by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Boy, that’s something, isn’t it? Well, can you measure up? The answer, of course, is “no,” not in your own strength. Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
And then this word “gravity” has one other meaning. As I looked it up, it means “sanctity,” the quality of holiness, and that, I suppose, is more important than any one of the others.
What does it mean to be holy? Well, it doesn’t just mean to be pious. I have a little saying that I use sometimes: “If you find a person that’s always pious you have to watch him ‘cause he’s apt to lie about other things too.”
God meant us to be normal, ordinary, garden-variety human beings. To laugh and cry. To be enthusiastic or to be downcast, as the case may be. We do respond to circumstances. We’re not always “up,” humanly speaking. You can always trust God but you don’t always feel like laughing and jumping around, do you? No, you don’t. So it doesn’t mean always being pious. Looking, looking religious. You try to look religious, you end up looking slightly bilious and, and ridiculous. People used to do that when I was in the pastorate.
18 years in the pastorate, I made three calls a day – generally about a thousand times a year – to go talk to someone about the Lord Jesus. And so, I would be calling on people and they would see me coming up the walk, and I would come up and ring the doorbell – and they’d already seen me – and so, when they opened the door they would have this pious look on their faces, a sort of a combination between sadness and sickness, you know? “Come in brother…” (spoken very solemnly). Oh dear.
There was one time when, as I walked up toward the entrance of this house, I saw the man was sitting there on his sofa, smoking his El Ropo cigar. You know, just relaxing. Well, he caught sight of me, and didn’t realize that I saw him. He caught sight of me and took his cigar and stuck it under the sofa cushion without – unfortunately – extinguishing the flame. Well, I came in, he greeted me cordially, “Sit down Preacher! Glad to see ya!” Pretty soon a wisp of smoke began to come out from under the sofa cushion where he had hidden the cigar, and I said to him, “You’d better take that cigar out; you’re gonna burn the place down!” Oh, he was embarrassed.
Well, you see, we all of us try to put on, now and again don’t we? Well, of course. Doesn’t prove a thing, doesn’t make you really holy. Sometimes, as I say, it makes you look ridiculous. Hypocrisy and, and all of the pretense that we have really – when you stand off and look at it, it is ridiculous, isn’t it?
I remember marching in a procession where everybody was dressed up in, in academic regalia. And of course, I’m not putting down academia; I was a college President for 23 years, so I have high respect for the accomplishments of those who have earned their doctor’s degrees and all that. And I have my own academic robe, and, and hood and academic hat and all that, so I’m not putting it down, you understand me.
But, all of a sudden, as I looked at that procession of people with their robes and their fancy regalia and, and their pork pie hats denoting that they’d gone to such-and-such a university, it struck me. God must look down and chuckle at us, you know, marching along there with all of that fancy stuff on, and underneath just ordinary human beings.
Holiness. How do you get to be “holy”? The Bible commands it. “Be ye holy, for I am holy,” saith the Lord. “Seeing, then, that all these things shall be destroyed, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy manner of life,” Simon Peter says. How do you get to be holy? Well, it’s God’s work. Now, “the God of Peace sanctify you wholly.” That’s w-h-o-l-l-y: “wholly,” entirely. The holiness of God is re-duplicated in your life by the Holy Spirit, who indwells the believer. And the more you yield to Him and the more He fills every room in your heart-house, the holier you will be. The holiness of God is the essence of God’s very nature re-duplicated in you by the blessed Spirit of God who indwells the believer. How do you get to be holy? Live in God’s Word, yield to God’s Holy Spirit, obey what you know to be God’s Will. He makes you holy.
My brother-in-law, Tory Johnson, has a great many sayings which I have absorbed through the years. One of them I heard back in the 1930’s, when he was just a young preacher, and he was speaking then about the Holy Spirit, and he said, “When you yield to the Spirit of God He’ll live up to His name. He’ll live up to His name when you let Him take control of your life. He’s the Holy Spirit and He’ll make you holy. He’s the Holy Spirit and He’ll make you spiritual.” Not a bad idea.
Yield to the blessed Spirit of God and let Him make you holy, so that when you walk into a situation, whether it be in your home with your wife and children, or whether it be in, in business, or in the professions or whatever it may be, people are going to sense the presence of God. You won’t have to say a word. They’ll know that God walked in with you.
”Having his children in subjection with all gravity” means “dignity,” means “majesty,” means “holiness.” You want to think about that, and pray about it? Oh, it’s a big order. I certainly don’t measure up, but I’m on the way, as I know many of you are. And every day I pray that God may fill my life with His Holy Spirit, and that the effect – the impact – of my life may be that people feel the holiness and love of God.
Well, we go on.
He says in verse 5, “a man doesn’t know how to rule his own house.” Same verb there, “proistemi” – to be over, to superintend, to preside over, to be a protector, to be a guardian, to give aid, and to give attention. If he doesn’t know how to do all that in his own home, how shall he take care of the church of God? And that verb “take care of” is a very tender and responsible word, as in “take care of a child,” “take care of a family,” “take care of a helpless person,” “take care of a business as a trusted steward.” To care for something means that you really care – number one – and that you’re really responsible in following through. It’s quite an order.
We’ll go on into verse 6: “Not,” he says “a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” “Not a novice.”
We get our word “neophyte” from the same word that’s used here, translated “novice.” A newcomer. I’ve seen people nearly ruined by being thrust into responsibility too soon in their Christian life. Take a young convert and make him a deacon or a trustee, and you’re sure to find some damage being done in his own life because of the pressures that come upon him which he’s not really ready to handle as yet. Take a young convert who gives an interesting testimony and, and build him or her up so that by means of public relation techniques, a certain amount of notoriety or fame is achieved, and you’re doing a very dangerous thing, in that that new convert may be, as Paul says here: “puffed up, lifted up with pride.”
Interestingly enough, it was pride that caused Satan to be thrown out of Heaven in the first place, before the creation of the world. Satan said, “I will be like the Most High! I will ascend into the sides of the north. I’ll put my throne above the throne of God.” Pride!
Now, he says, “lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” That is to say, the same condemnation that Satan experienced will be experienced by a person who allows pride to rule his life. Does it shake you up a little to realize that when you indulge in pride, you’re actually doing the same thing the devil did that caused him to be thrown out of Heaven? “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the hand of God, that He might exalt you in due times,” the Bible says.
“Not a neophyte.” How do you know when a person has enough experience to be a leader in Christian work? It’s a good question, isn’t it?
Well, number one, you find out how much he’s grown in the things of God. It doesn’t take very long to find that out. Is he or she growing in grace and in the things of, of God’s order? Is he or she in the Word day by day? Has the individual learned how to pray and get through to God? Has the individual learned the taste of sacrifice, so that sacrificial service is the rule of life rather than the “what can I get out of it” syndrome? Has the individual learned to deal with the pressures of life without getting devastated and discouraged? And has the individual learned how to cope with temptation so as not to be taken in by it? And, most of all, has the individual that you’re considering learned that he or she cannot – not “will not,” but “cannot” – succeed apart from the grace of God every moment.?
That built-in humility that depends on the grace of God is probably the best measurement of whether the individual is ready for more responsibility. “Not a novice.” Not a neophyte, but one that’s grown enough in grace to maintain himself in the things of God, and to depend on God for guidance effectively, step by step.
Dear Father today, may we be the right kind of people; God’s people, holy people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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