1 Timothy 3:14-16
14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
We see now the purpose of Paul’s letter. He wanted to make sure Timothy knew how he should behave in the house of God. I would say that not only Timothy, but all should behave this way. We talked about this as we went through the characteristics of a bishop and deacon, that all these things should also apply to us. I believe we often think those who are in the pulpit or serve as deacons or elders in our churches should live to a higher standard than we common folk do. Nothing could be further from the truth. We should all live holy lives, set apart for God. Jesus did not die so we could still live in sin. He died so we could be free from sin! He died to give us the strength and power to say no to sin. Living the way Paul describes in this chapter is for all of us.
I challenge you to go back to the beginning of this chapter and read it several times. See where you stand with each characteristic Paul describes. Are you grave, keeping things serious and truthful? Or do you joke around a lot and poke fun at people? Are you living in a way that people cannot blame you for something that would be ungodly? Are you apt to teach, ready to give a good word when someone needs it? Do you have your own house in order and are you faithful in all things? Are you not given to much wine and do you have a good report from those outside the church? There are a few here that I need to work on. How about you?
Why are these things important for all of us? Because we are the church and this church is the house of the living God. Paul says the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. Why is the world caving in around us right now? Why is morality falling to desperate lows? Why are things like abortion and gay rights winning the battle for our children? I believe it is because the church has been in a shifting position on these things. They have not spoken out enough on these issues, and the pillar of truth that the church must be has shifted to a lie that does not line up with the Bible. When the church falls into a lie, the world will gladly follow and embrace it. If the church becomes ungodly, the world will go further into ungodliness.
It starts with each one of us. What do you have to do to become more like the bishop and deacon described here? Once you get it right, then you are ready to teach others what is the right way to go. We can turn the church around one person at a time, but it will take all of us. It will take a concentrated effort on the part of every true believer and follower to make this happen. If we do not act now, the church will continue to crumble and turn from the righteousness of God to the ways of the world. I realize that we are all the church, and not the buildings that sit all over this world. But there are so many in this church that are walking contrary to scripture. They must be shown the right way.
What is the right way? What is the mystery of godliness? It is Jesus Christ and what He did to redeem us and give us eternal life. He is the central figure for all of history. He came and showed us what godliness was. He came and healed everyone he touched. He delivered every person who came to Him. He always taught the truth and did not back down from the pious religious leaders. In fact He challenged them to follow the spirit of the law and not the letter if the law. Every time they met with Him, they were baffled by His answers to their questions. His godliness showed in everything He said and did because He was justified in the Spirit. Are we?
The mystery to me is why we don’t follow His example more often? Why don’t I pray for the sick people that come into my life so they can be healed? Is it because I lack the faith to really believe God will heal them? Or is it that I don’t want to risk offending them by praying for them in public? Or is it because my pride says that if I pray and they don’t get out of that wheelchair, I will look bad? Jesus just knew they would be healed if He asked the Father. He had no doubts, so He did not worry about the result of His prayers. Once He prayed, the matter was in the Fathers hands. Every time, His Father answered. I need to have that kind of faith so that God will be glorified every time I pray.
The mystery of godliness is that He was preached unto you and I, the Gentiles, and we believed. We believed that He did what the word says He did. We believe he was born of a virgin in a manger, baptized by John and tempted in the wilderness. We believe He healed the sick, cast out demons, opened blinded eyes and deaf ears and raised the dead. We believe the words He preached and the parables that show us how we should live. We believe He was betrayed, beaten, scourged, rejected and crucified for our sins. We believe He died, was buried and rose again to give us eternal life. We believe He is coming back for the redeemed one day and that we shall rise to meet Him in the air. We believe it all.
It is a mystery to the world. There are so many out there who may believe one part or another, but not all that Jesus did and said in His life. That is a shame, and will cause them to miss heaven because they did not understand the mystery of godliness. They did not understand why He came, what He lived for and why He died. He came, lived and died to show us what godliness was. Jesus Christ is the mystery of godliness to the world, but not to those of us who know Him personally. To us, He is the way, the truth and the life. We come to the Father through Him. We know godliness, and can live godly lives, because of who He is in our lives. It is no mystery to us!
If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, now is the time. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, then repent and turn away from them. Give Him authority over your life by making Him Lord. Get into the word of God and start fresh with it, reading it like you have never read it before. Soak it in and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal it’s truths to you. Allow Him to guide you every step of the way. Be born again today!