How do we distinguish one who professes to be a good Christian? Not everyone who states that they are a Christian. Not everyone who professes to be a pastor is really a pastor. The test is how such a person lives their life according to God’s Word. A person’s life, in its entirety, has to truly reflect the life of Christ. How does this measure up to all of the existing heresies and false teachings that exist today? In the book of Timothy, the people of the church were subject to many within and outside of the church that practiced ungodly lifestyles and false teaching. Paul warned Timothy of these issues, but also told him that those who claimed to be a Christian should be measured by their behavior and not just their words. They also must submit themselves to the power of the living God and God’s Word. It is a change that will be evident to the individual and to others when you submit yourself to God.
What does a good minister or Christian look like? The Word reveals who you really are (Matthew 7:15, 12:30). The message of Christ is what empowers us. Those who dismiss it as foolishness make it evident in their lifestyle that is outside of God’s will. Their actions will clearly not match their words when they declare that they follow Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18, 4:19-20). A true follower of Christ will reflect and demonstrate His power and wisdom in his or her actions. “For the kingdom of God is not in talk but in power (1 Corinthians 4:20).”
A good minister or Christian points out truths of the faith. They are not ashamed of the gospel and freely speak of the things of God without fear of repercussions. “If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed (1 Timothy 4:6). “Brothers, if someone is caught in wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted also (Galatians 6:1).” We are to remind others what is to be Christian according to Scripture. Some people need to be nurtured through this process with reminders and the proper consistent training, for they may not know of the teaching nor do they understand the importance of how Scripture is to be applied to their lives (Hebrews 5:11-13). The mature person, on the other hand, relies upon God’s Word for consistent training and direction to live a godly life throughout the week. “But solid food is for the mature–for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).” God’s Word helps to train us and build us up, and is valuable in helping both the novice Christian and the mature believer to grow and live in the faith. In our pointing out the truths of the faith (1 Timothy 4:6), we show that we believe these things by following God’s advice. “…you then, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach, ‘You must not steal’–do you steal? You who say, ‘You must not commit adultery’–do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob their temples? (Romans 2:21-22)”
We are to train ourselves to be godly (1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 9:27). “But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).” There is a benefit to this godly training (1 Timothy 4:8). It is profitable for you in this life (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3) and in the next life (1 Corinthians 3:14, 5:10). How we live our life reveals our true hope in God and that we have a Savior and a Deliverer that we rely upon to help us because we believe in Him. We can trust in Christ and in His Word (1 Timothy 4:9-10, 18). His Word is an encouragement to us when we train ourselves to live a godly life. These are the testimonies that proclaim the love of Christ to others. It is not to be kept as a secret. Your life in ministry and as a Christian should be evident to others. Paul, in 1 Timothy 4, ties all of this together for Timothy in his summation: “Command and teach these things. No one should despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Practice these things; be committed to them, so that progress may be evident to all. Be conscientious about yourself and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:11-16).”