Date: June 26, 2011
Bible Text: 2 Timothy 6:11-12 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
Please turn in your Bibles to I Timothy 6, verses 11 and 12. “But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” I have said over and over through my ministry here that a percentage of our people treat this church no different than if they were Lutherans or Catholics or Methodists. It’s nothing but tradition. Flee the things that Paul was just talking about, “...and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” I want you to ask yourself, “How serious are you about that?” It’s the Bible. “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” Fight the good fight of faith. What does that mean? That means if somebody is gossiping, you fight him. If somebody is trying to get other people around them to do wrong, you fight him.
I think that through the years a church gets to the place where the most important thing is whether the song was pretty or not. No, the Bible says we’re in a fight and I, for one, am going to fight, whether you like it or not. I’m going to keep on fighting whether you agree or not. Some of you parents fully agree that you didn’t do the best job in rearing your children, but then you let them come back and influence you and tear down your church. No, you need to fight. You call yourself a man. You need to stand. I haven’t changed, but I really believe that there’s a small part of our church that wants us to change. The thing that they dislike the most is that “fight.” As long as I’m the pastor of this church, I’m going to fight for what we are, and I wish some of you would stop bending your ear to others who disagree. I wish you’d make up your mind and decide to do what’s right. I just think there are too many good people who are more worried about what people think of them than about doing what’s right—worried about being accepted, worried about what it looks like. We never built this church worrying about what it looks like. There’s a new minority, a new feeling, “What does it look like?” I don’t care what it looks like! You say, “You don’t build a church that way.” No, but God does. So as we pray, won’t you pray honestly, “God, convict my heart. I want to be right. I don’t want to just read these verses. I want to apply them to my life.”
I Timothy chapter 3, verses 14 and 15. “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry…,” Paul says, “… that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God…” He said, “I want to come visit, but in case I don’t get there soon enough, I want to tell you how to behave yourself in the house of God.” This is the house of God. It is not a social program. It is not a music program. It’s not an educational program. It is the house of God. Paul said, “the house of God, which is the church of the living God…” This is God’s church! We need to live like it. We need to practice it. We need to stop being so touchy! We need to stop listening to those who don’t live for God. “… [T]he pillar and ground of the truth”—the church holds the truth according to this and other Scriptures. You say, “You know, the pastor is made of flesh,” and, amen, nobody knows that more than I do. But as I’ve often said, it’s your job to find the best church you can get into. I would move across the country and around the world in this day and age to be in the best church I could be in. It’s your job to find a church where the pastor preaches the Word of God without compromise. Perfect? No, but one who preaches the Word of God, and lives what he preaches. It’s your job to find that church and then follow. Forget this stuff of, “Well, they’re just flesh.” Amen, “flesh” that is called of God. God wants His children to know how to act as Christians and how to behave as part of God’s family.
In I Timothy 6:1, Paul says, “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.” We’re to live so that God’s Word isn’t blasphemed. He wants the Christian to live so that no reproach will be brought on the name of the Lord or His Bible or His church! And yet there are thousands upon thousands of Christians across this nation who seem to want to bring reproach on the church, and by that, I mean the local church. On the job, they’re hypocrites—hypocrites! They feel closer to the unsaved than they do their Christian brother.
As husbands, they will not lead. Husbands, I realize that women make lots of sense. I realize they think differently. My wife thinks differently than I do. And much of the reason that women think differently is that they live in an emotional world more than a man who, hopefully, lives in a more logical world. That’s why God told the man to lead. You don’t lead by “feelings.” You lead by what’s right and what’s wrong. But so many men, who are looking at me right now, don’t want to rock the boat. “Oh, I love my wife. She’s a good woman.” Sometime you have to just say, “I’m the boss.” Oh, a woman says, “I’ve got my rights.” Not when it comes to the leadership of the church or the family, you don’t. Some of you are so hesitant to take a strong stand that you’re destroying your family.
Through the years, I have had to fight this good fight. I’m aged now, but I have been fighting this fight for almost 37 years here at this church. Music, for instance. I’m not fighting it now, but I have had to say, “I don’t care what you want; I don’t care what anybody wants! I care what God wants, and I’m the leader of the church.” If it’s got to be done, it’s got to be done. Holding to standards! Cannot a man, a husband, a father, see when his daughter or his wife is dressing sensually? What are you, blind? Soulwinning! Work! So many of us are getting like Lutherans. People go to mass, and they go through the motions, and they think they’ve done well. There are some people sitting in front of me who just want to go through the motions. That’s not the Bible. It brings a reproach.
It seems like people want to make God look bad today. They want to make His church look bad today. “Well, I’ve read the Reformed Doctrine, so now I can drink.” Well, let me tell you something. If you drink, I don’t want anything to do with you. Nothing! And anybody who is right with God wants nothing to do with you. You say, “Well, that’s not Christian.” Yes, it is. You grow up here, you go through our schools, you listen to our preaching, you know what’s right, you know what’s wrong. You can go talk to somebody else and they may disagree with me, but they’re wrong. I’m not talking about when somebody gets saved off of skid row. We work with them. We pity them. But if our kids grow up and get some new doctrine and they start smoking cigars and drinking, I don’t want anything to do with you unless it’s for you to repent.
People want to make God’s church a stench, a laughingstock, weak, and frail. People badmouth the things of God. Why? Because they won’t heed our text in I Timothy 6:11 and 12. Let me read it again. “But thou, O man of God, flee these things. . .” Get away from these things. “. . . and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” Try to twist that into saying something else. Fight the good fight of faith! You say, “I don’t want to hurt her feelings.” What about God? “Oh, I love her.” What about God?
Let’s take this passage apart and study it. “Flee these things.” What things? This chapter first of all teaches that we’re to withdraw from certain people. Chapter 6, verse 3, says, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words. . .,” What? “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
If you study the writings of Paul to preachers of the churches, you’ll see that there are four different classes of people to avoid, to stay away from, to shun, to have no part with. You say, “Doesn’t the Bible teach, ‘For God so loved the world?’” Yes. “Doesn’t the Bible say we’re to love all people?” Yes, and the Bible doesn’t conflict. But the Bible teaches that we are to flee from those who are dividers. Romans 16:17 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
Look at who is causing the divisions. What kind of Christian life are they living? How many souls have they won to the Lord, or even tried to win to the Lord? That’s the problem we have. People would rather go play soccer with the world than come to prayer meeting. They’d rather ride their dirt bikes than win souls. Then they come around pointing their finger at those who are trying to do something for God. Use your head! A good Christian, an honest Christian, a sincere Christian, does not want to bring reproach upon the name of God. When people want to divide, when people want to gossip and hurt, mark them, the Bible says, and avoid them. But you say, “They’re my relatives.” I avoid plenty of my relatives, praise God. Many Christians do not do that because they’re shallow themselves.
Along comes some Absalom, who is subversive, who sits in the gates of the city and seeks to usurp the kingdom with fair words and good speeches. Does that sound familiar? They deceive good people. Fair words—these guys are always talkers. The Apostle Paul says, “mark them which cause divisions” and “avoid them.” Flee from that sort of person. Tell them to shut up or get out. You say, “That doesn’t sound very Christian.” It sounds Biblical to me.
Notice the Bible teaches the same thing about the disorderly. II Thessalonians 3:6-7 says, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition.” They don’t walk right; they don’t live right. What are you supposed to do? “Well, I’m supposed to love them because if I love them and if I pay attention to them, maybe they’ll come back to God.” It never ever, ever, ever happens that way. You love them, you pay attention to them, you will be them!
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition, which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you.” I should be able to say that, as your pastor, I have not behaved myself disorderly among you. The Bible says that people fought Moses, they fought Paul, they fought them all. I’m called of God to pastor this church, and you better listen, or you’re going to get in trouble. Because I’m perfect? No. No, I’m not God, I’m not the Holy Spirit, I’m not always right, but I am your pastor. And “he” isn’t. “She” isn’t! We’re to withdraw ourselves from dividers and the disorderly.
But notice again, in the sixth chapter of I Timothy, for instance, that it speaks about doting. That’s the idea of just wanting to uphold your intellect. Doting. “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” “Boy, I’m smart.” I don’t know what it is about people who want to dig into things that we don’t really know about. You don’t hear me preach much on Revelation. And, do you know why? Because I don’t know much about Revelation. There are some things in the Bible we don’t know a lot about. Charles Spurgeon only had 15 topics that he preached on. You say, “Why?” Because there are things that have to be pounded home. We don’t have to look for questionable things to teach and preach on. “From such,” the Bible says, “withdraw thyself.”
People have such a morbid fondness for controversy. No, Paul said when you find a believer who is a divider, disorderly, or has a morbid fondness for controversy, withdraw yourself. “Well, I’ve got this new doctrine.” Forget it. There was a preacher who every time he got up to preach would say, “This is new; you never heard this before.” Then I don’t want to hear about it now. I wish this morning that we had the spiritual discernment just to follow God’s Word, just to do right.
But notice also, we’re to avoid deniers. II Timothy 3:5 says, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Having a form of godliness, but fighting reality. That’s what I sense is happening in America. I travel a lot. I’ve been preaching in churches for decades. Many a church has gone from a thousand to a hundred, or from three hundred to thirty. A good size independent Baptist church now is 75 people. I’m not saying there are no larger ones, but that’s just a fact. And I think the reason is that we’ve gotten away from the strength of God’s Word, the strength to do what God says to do and go all out.
In our bus ministry, we say you have to be at the meeting at 8:30 on Saturday morning and you have to put in 5 hours, not counting lunch time, or you’re not in the bus ministry. We say, “If you’re going to be in the choir, you’re going to dress like a Christian—not only dress like a Christian in the choir, not only dress like a Christian when you come to church, but always dress like a Christian in all your life—or you’re not in the choir!” That’s what I mean by strength. People don’t like that strength, and they’re out to attack us. You say, “Who do you think you are?” Nobody. But for some reason, there’s a whole slew of people out there who hate this type of Christianity. I’m not the only one. I’m going to Pastor Stowe’s next week, and I’m going to preach for him. He’s got a good church, and I don’t want to just start listing, but Pastor Starr has a good church, and Pastor Mallinak, Pastor Clark, Pastor Bottrell, Pastor Dunbar, and I could go on. There are people who have good churches, and each and every one of them is attacked. I guarantee you that when I said Pastor Mallinak, there were people in this church who said to themselves, “If he only knew what I know.” Well, if you only knew what I know.
People don’t want strength. They don’t want a youth group that says, “You’re going to do what’s right or you’re not going to be a part of it. You’re going to be ostracized!” We have lost people over that. We’ve lost people for 36 years over the strength of this church. I say again, as long as I’m pastor, and praise God, I believe that John Kenderdine believes exactly the same thing, this church will stay strong no matter if we shrivel down to nothing. If you don’t like it, I’ll say what I said 37 years ago, “Lump it!” You say, “Man, what’s got into you?” I’m telling you what’s got into me. It’s the weakness, the tepidness, the game-playing, the gossip. How in the world is God going to do anything if we don’t get serious?
Paul said, “Flee these things.” What things, Paul? For one thing, certain people. In previous verses he talked about the love of money which is the root of all evil. There’s an old saying that goes, “Much wants more.” Our country, as Missionary Robert Mickey pointed out so well on Thursday, has so much. You’d think we’d be satisfied, but we’re covetous. We’re a covetous nation, and most Christians are covetous. I Timothy chapter 6, verse 6. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.” Christian, you shouldn’t move one little finger crookedly to gain a dime. We’ve got so-called loan officers in this church. In our country we just had the sub-prime loan crisis. It had to do with your work—giving loans that shouldn’t have been given. You better not do that. You’re a Christian. We’ve got appraisers in this church. I have had my house appraised. Not my present house, but in the past an appraisal would bounce by 100% in six months. It can’t do that. The appraiser is appraising it the way somebody wants it appraised. You better not do that. You’ll answer to God. We’ve got insurance salesmen here. You better not sell one policy to anybody that isn’t the very best for them, and you do know what’s best. We’ve got car salesmen. Do unto others what you’d want done for yourself. That car ought to be sold in exactly the way you’d want it to be sold if you were buying it. Don’t let the love of money get to you.
Proverbs 28:20 says, “… but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.” Run from this. Some of you think it would be great to be rich. “Man, I’d give to God then.” But no, 99% percent of people, when they get rich, don’t put Him first. I’ve seen a lot of rich people in their offices, in my office, in their homes. The first really wealthy man’s home I was ever in was trying to convince me to go into the Merchant Marine Academy. He had me over to his huge house in Glencoe with a couple other prospects. I can remember sitting there and his saying, “You join us, and all this can be yours.” I said to myself, “You old goat, I wouldn’t want your life for anything.” Now, at the time, I was fighting God’s call to preach; but it had nothing to do with that. He said, “You can have this someday.” I said, “I wouldn’t get in your hide for all the money in the world.” You could just look at him and see he was miserable. It’s not a sin to have money, but most of them are miserable. They’re miserable getting it, they’re miserable as they have it, and they’re miserable as they lose it.
I think of the Kennedys, one of the most powerful, wealthy families in America’s history. President John Kennedy had so many affairs, he couldn’t keep up with them. He can have it. Teddy Kennedy drives his girlfriend—while he’s married, of course—in Chappaquiddick and lets her drown! He can have it. I don’t want that. “Well they have power; they got by with it.” They can have it! I don’t want it. Do you know what they get out of life? Three meals a day, clothes, and lodging. I’ve got that, and I’ve got a wonderful relationship with my wife. I have wonderful children and grandchildren, and it’s not just that they’re my flesh and blood. They are wonderful Christians, serving God. I’ve got joy. I’ve got peace in my heart. What I’m preaching about troubles me greatly, but I’ve got peace personally in my heart.
A daughter of a millionaire asked her father during the Christmas season, “What do you want for Christmas?” He answered very honestly, “I’d like to just have one good night’s sleep. And I’d like to get up on Christmas morning and be able to eat and enjoy a breakfast.” Man, I have that! Ask my wife, I really sleep, and I eat, and I enjoy it. Some old people with all this money really have no capacity to enjoy it. They remind me of a fly looking for molasses and they fall into the whole pot. Some say, “I will make money; I’ll have gold.” I’ll tell you, it will end. But the fellow who has fixed himself and his affection in the right direction, he will love the things that God loves and hate the things that God hates.
Now some of you stingy Christians, you don’t know what you’re missing. “Oh, the preacher, he just thinks I’m made of money.” No, you’re no more made of money than I am, but, you know, you give that over to God, you’ll enjoy life a lot more. Your Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and it is fun being a good steward. I’d rather be a pauper who gives like a prince than a prince who gives like a pauper. I’ve no respect for stingy people. They’re heading for trouble. When you preach to them, it’s like taking a pea shooter to a cow’s hide. You have to shoot them in the eyeball for them to even feel it. No, there’s not much worse than a stingy person, and the Devil will get you if you don’t get that taken care of. Now I’ve already gotten into my second point, but not only is a Christian supposed to flee certain things, but he is to follow others.
Again, I Timothy 6, verse 11 says, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” Oh, we all would agree that we should have more of these traits. But why don’t we? I think it’s because we don’t determine to. We’re going to have fun with our friends. We’re going to have fellowship. We’re going to get a job and gather things. And when things don’t go well, then we get mad and we point at the youth pastor or the principal or the pastor, or something like that. You’re miserable. Why don’t you get right with God?
Psalms 108 says, “O God, my heart is fixed.” As far as any questions about what is right or what is truth, there is no more opening it up. Isn’t that the way we should be? There’s no more discussing it. No probing it. You might say, “Well, you’re kind of an ignorant guy. You don’t want to get into some of this new doctrine or idea that’s not exactly Baptist.” I don’t, you’re right! There’s no opening it up. Not to Reformed doctrine, or Doug Wilson’s books. He talks about training your kids and teaching them how to smoke cigars and drink wine. I hear people quote Doug Wilson to prove a point. Do you want to prove a point with me by quoting a guy who teaches his teenage boys how to drink and how to smoke? He’s a jerk! You say, “That’s not theological.” He’s a real jerk! I’m thick-headed. I’m not as intellectual as some would like me to be, but it’s closed! I’ve thought it through, live or die, it’s a closed question. I’m going to serve God.
Godliness—service for God. People will say, “Well, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know whether I should work my second job or serve God.” Duties don’t conflict. Do what’s right. If you go back in your mind to your experiences of the past five or ten years, you’ll see that the Bible is correct when it says, “A doubleminded man is unstable in all his ways.” Now how do you get out of that? A double-minded man, that means you’re not sure, you’re back and forth. You better watch yourself. It’s where you’ll get in trouble. “Well, I know the preacher preaches against worldly music, but, you know, I kind of like it.” You better watch yourself. I got rid of my television 35 years ago—threw it in the garbage. We’ve shot a lot of them around here. Oh, but some of you say, “Well, I’m against it, but I still have it.” “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
A wife gets mad because her husband is too busy, or a man gets mad because he wants more money. You have to decide just what is right or wrong in order to serve God. Dad, that’s what you have to find out. What is right or wrong? Teens, what is right and what is wrong? We’re talking about the major issues, not your gossip. That puts a man where he can announce his principles and make his choice. Man does right or wrong because he makes a decision to do right or wrong. Well, you say, “Preacher, you’re the pastor of the church.” Well, definitely years before I was the pastor of the church, I decided between right and wrong. I decided that I should be in church, and I decided I should be in a good church. I didn’t have a car, and so I had to hitchhike, I had to get a ride, I had to take a train, whatever. The buses didn’t even go out into those suburbs, but I was there. I was there to serve the Lord. I was there for soulwinning. That was before I ever surrendered to preach. It’s either right or it’s wrong! My affections have been adjusted.
I have never counted a guy safe until he loves to do right. When a man begins to love church, love the Bible, love prayer, love to help the poor or the sick, it’s exciting. When you see your family go from fights to bliss—not perfect—but from just fighting all the time to a wonderful marriage, it’s exciting. It’s exciting to see people go from the brink of divorce to being a deacon. It’s exciting when I preach a salvation message and we sing Just As I Am, to see souls come forward and get saved. It’s exciting to pray and see $100,000 or $200,000 float down from heaven.
I like to see people live the Christian life the way I used to swim. When I was eleven or twelve years old, I didn’t know how to swim. But you know what I loved to do? I loved to get on the diving board, and take a big bounce, and go way out there, maybe do a somersault, and go out as far as I could. Sploosh! You say, “But you couldn’t swim.” I learned. I couldn’t swim well, but I sure did enjoy it. And what I’m trying to say is, come on in. The water’s fine. You can come in as soon as you’re saved. Hit that board and jump out so far you have to swim like crazy and trust God. All you have to do is get your affections straight. That’s the key.
How would you like to see a woman with ten children, let’s say, from infant to twenty years old. There is a little crib here, a little bed, and then up to the big beds. But all are in diapers, and all are sucking bottles. None of them can talk, none of them can walk. All they can do is cry and suck their bottles. All that mother can do is feed them, fix the bottles, and change their diapers. This is the picture of the average church today. People want to play with their hobbies, whatever it might be, but it’s always, “Oh, what’s wrong? This Christianity doesn’t work. Preacher! My marriage! I need a miracle. Preacher, my kids aren’t doing right. What you preach doesn’t work!” No, what you work isn’t what I preach! Your diaper stinks.
And then quickly, thirdly, let me give you the last point. Fight the good fight. I know I’ve been saying it, but the point I want to get across this morning is, we are in a battle. A battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. We know Ephesians 6:12. Let me read it. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” When flesh and blood fights us, it’s the devil in them. We’re fighting against the devil. I’m afraid most Christians don’t realize that. There’s a real battle out there. I fight it. A lot of people in here fight it, but some think it’s a game. It’s just a game; all we’re trying to do is “hold you back.”
Now, I’ve been very disappointed in our president in a lot of ways. But if he were up for election again, I would vote for him, and I’ll tell you why. He’s leading in the war on terror. But what’s happening as he’s trying to fight these terrorists? The whole Hollywood crowd is up against him. “What’s wrong with him? He’s terrible.” He’s fighting these Islamic terrorists, and Rosie O’Donnell sees nothing wrong with them. They’re always okay. Iran is all okay. Venezuela, they’re all fine; and Hollywood will take their side all the time. I’m very disappointed in the president in a lot of ways, but what are we supposed to do? This battle has been on and off for thousands of years, and it is their goal to take a knife and slit your Christian throat from ear to ear. If they have their chance, they will. Now what are we supposed to do? Why are they defending the enemy?
I say that to say that sometimes I feel just like the president. We are fighting the devil! He wants to do worse than slit your throat from ear to ear, and all some of you care about is relatives and personalities and friends. You’ll bend that ear and you’ll listen to that gossip. You think I’m foolish, but I’ve been at it since before most of you were born. I know what the outcome is, and if you are messing with this stuff, you are going to be destroyed. If you can’t cut with people who tear down the things of God, you are going to be destroyed. You. Fight the good fight of faith. II Corinthians 10:4. “…For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” My time is gone, but we have God on our side. I believe in the Holy Spirit’s power. It is what has built this church—Holy Spirit empowered preaching of the Word of God. But we’ve got to fight.
There were forty fighters in Caesar’s army who were Christians. Caesar came to the place where he hated the things of God and said, “You either give your loyalty to Caesar, or Caesar will kill you.” The officer over these 40 men loved them and respected them, and really wanted them to recant, but they would not. And so they were sent out into a frozen lake with nothing but their undergarments to freeze. They sang and they froze, and they sang and they froze. The officer wanted them to come back in, he really cared about them, however all but one died. Right at the end, that one came running in saying, “I recant.” The officer in charge gave him, this recanter, his own clothes and said, “You’re a fool,” and joined the others out there to freeze to death.
You say, “What are you getting at?” We’re soft. We get our feelings hurt and we get mad. We are in a fight. Christian soldiers are dying like flies. Families are being destroyed. Men, women, teens, we’d better be serious. We’d better flee certain things. We’d better follow certain things. And we’d better fight. By that I don’t mean you have to get in a fist fight. I don’t mean you have to yell at everybody, but you had better fight. You’d better take the Word of God and say, “I’m going by this.” You’d better beg God for His Holy Spirit’s power and wisdom, and not think you know more than Him, and not think you know more than His man. You had better watch yourself. Some of you have had your families destroyed, and you still think you know more than the preacher. Watch yourself. You’ll be destroyed. You’ll have the exact same ending.