“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
(1 Timothy 4:16)
Holy living and sound teaching must go together if anyone wants to be a blessing. This is why Paul admonishes Timothy to “keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.” He must persist in holy living and vigilance with respect to teaching. The promise is “for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
A man is saved by grace, through faith, not by works (Titus 3:3; Ephesians 2:6-8); yet since holy living and sound teaching are a fruit of the faith, Paul is able to say that by “by so doing” Timothy will save himself and his hearers. God promises a special reward to His faithful ministers and to all his faithfulness witnesses (Daniel 12:3; Matt. 13:43; James 5:20).
Many Christians today focus on their life situations such as their trials, problems, difficulties, and so on. When these difficult times come—and come they will—what happens?
What Happens When We Neglect “the teaching”
When you and I as Christians focus only on our lives to the exclusion of grounding ourselves in the Word of God, we fail to keep watch on what is truly important in our lives, that of Biblical doctrine to ground our lives in God Himself. Biblical doctrine helps Christians weather the storms of life by building a foundation that is rooted in God Himself. The end result of this approach is that while we may struggle at times during trials, we will be sustained through those tough times of life through a firm reliance on the goodness and providence of God who uses such situations to grow His people in His grace.
Grow deep and wide in God by reading, studying, and mediating on God’s Word which testifies of the finished work of Jesus Christ. By grounding your life in the Word of God, your life will increasingly reflect the truth of Scripture by the grace of God.
We need Jesus. That is the reality of life.
Jesus takes non-Christians and transfers them from the Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without that transfer, there is no way our lives can be grounded in God. Thankfully through the finished work of Jesus, He has saved His people, is sanctifying them, and will one day glorify them.
“Persist in this”
Examine your life today in light of Paul’s exhortation to “watch your life and doctrine.” See whether you are focusing more on your life or whether you are building a strong foundation based on God’s Word. You can tell your life is based upon God by your response to trials and difficulties. In such trials, ask yourself if you know the peace of God that passes all understanding (Phil 4:8). Do you put to flight thoughts of anxiety by taking them captive to the Word of God (2 Corinthians 10:5)? Or do you focus on those negative thoughts, situations, and trials to the exclusion of thinking about God and His promises? How we respond during these times will say a lot about where we are in our walk with God.
Know and serve Jesus and you will heed Paul’s words to Timothy to “keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching” for in doing so you will grow deep and wide in the gospel as Paul told him in 1Timothy 4:15, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”
Timothy was to saturate himself in the gospel—to be nourished on the words of the faith and to train for godly living—so that he might conduct himself in such a manner that no one would despise his youthfulness (1Timothy 4:12). He was to “immerse” himself which literally means to be absorbed in them.
It is the same for Christians today.
We never outgrow our need for the gospel.
We are to watch our life and doctrine by relying not on ourselves but on the grace of God through the Word of God. Immerse yourself in the language and world of the Bible and never look back. In doing so, your life will increasingly be saturated in the gospel and others will see “your progress” in your inevitable spiritual maturity and love for God’s people.