December 31, 2017 – 1 Timothy 4

Lesson Date: December 31, 2017

Focal Scripture Passage: 1 Timothy 4:1-16

AIM: To lead students to discover three important things they must do in the face of the pervasive wickedness and ungodliness in our world, and to encourage them to commit to do those three things in the coming week.

 

Before class: Read the notes on 1 Timothy 4:1-16 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Gather some advertisements for exercise equipment and diet plans to bring to class.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask the students to share some of the favorite things they did during the Christmas holidays. After a few students have spoken, ask: “Did any of you eat more than you should?” (probably everyone will answer affirmatively). Ask: “What are you going to do about that?” (they will probably say that they must cut back or go on a diet).

Tell the class that tomorrow is New Year’s Day, a time when many people make “New Year’s resolutions.” Ask: “What are some common New Year’s resolutions?” (to go on a diet or to start exercising). Show the students some of the ads for diet plans and exercise equipment that you have brought to class. Comment on how important it is for us to take proper care of our bodies. Ask: “What benefits come from proper diet and exercise?” (improved health, avoiding some health problems, and even mental and emotional well-being). Tell the class that health professionals agree that there are many benefits to proper diet and exercise.

Ask: “What does it take to stick to a diet and exercise plan?” (self-discipline and commitment). Tell the students that unused exercise equipment will not do us any good. For it to be a benefit we must use it regularly.

Tell the class today’s lesson is about a spiritual diet and exercise plan.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are in a study of the New Testament books of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus.
    • Remind them that the Apostle Paul left young Timothy in Ephesus (locate Ephesus on the map) to straighten out some problems in the church.
    • Ask: “What was our last lesson from 1 Timothy (two weeks ago) about?” (qualifications for pastors and deacons).
  2. The Need for a Spiritual Diet and Exercise Plan.
    • Ask: “What are some reasons people start a diet and exercise plan?” (they are overweight, their doctor recommends it, or they want to improve their overall health; in other words, they see a need in their life).
    • Tell the class the first few verse of 2 Timothy 4 present a need – the reason we should be involved in a spiritual diet and exercise plan.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Timothy 4:1.
    • Explain that the terms latter days or last days in the Bible refers to the time from Jesus’ first coming to earth to His second coming. In other words, the days in which we now live.
    • Ask: “What does the Holy Spirit say will happen in the latter days?” (some people will depart from the faith and listen to seducing spirits).
    • Stress the fact that false doctrines and false religions are not the misguided attempts of well-meaning men to understand God – they come from lying, seducing demon spirits. The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44) and his demons use lies to lead people astray.
    • Ask the students to listen for some of these lies as you read 1 Timothy 4:2-3 (teaching that what you eat and who you marry will determine whether you go to heaven).
    • Tell the class what you eat and who you marry are very important issues, but they do NOT bring eternal salvation. Such teachings are false, demon-inspired doctrines.
    • Explain that verses 1-3 reveal some of the devils lies, but verses 4-6 tell us about God’s truth.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Timothy 4:4-6.
    • Explain the following:
      • God has given us all kinds of plants and animals to enjoy as food (Gen. 9:2-3), as long as they are received with thankfulness and prayer toward Him (v. 4-5).
      • We should remind people of these truths and teach good doctrine (v. 6).
    • Tell the class we now know why we need a good spiritual diet and exercise plan: because there and many false, demon-inspired doctrines in our world. The remainder of the chapter lays out that spiritual diet and exercise plan. There are three parts to the plan.
  3. Exercise Yourself Toward Godliness.
    • Read 1 Timothy 4:7-11.
    • Ask: “According to verse 7, what must we refuse or reject?” (profane fables).
    • Explain that the word profane refers to things that are unholy, worldly, and common. Fables are made-up stories, in contrast to the eternal truths of the Bible (for example, evolution, reincarnation, and annihilationism are fables).
    • Ask: “According to verse 7, what should we do?” (exercise ourselves toward godliness).
    • Tell the class this is the first element of our spiritual diet and exercise plan. We must exercise ourselves toward godliness.
    • Ask: “What do you think it means to exercise ourselves toward godliness? What should we do?” (read the Bible, pray, come to church, work to grow in our faith, do good deeds, turn away from the sins of the world, minister to others, witness, etc.).
    • Ask: “What does verse 8 say about the value of exercising ourselves toward godliness?” (it is more valuable than physical exercise; its benefits will last for eternity).
    • Tell the students that verse 11 reminds us that exercise is something we must work
    • Explain that in verse 9 the Apostle Paul insisted that the things he was saying were true. In verse 11 he told Timothy to command and teach these things to his congregation.
    • The first thing we must do for our spiritual health is to exercise ourselves unto godliness.
  4. Exemplify Christian Behavior.
    • Tell the class the next thing we must do is found in verses 12-13.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Timothy 4:12-13.
    • Explain that Timothy was a young man, but Paul did not want him to feel intimidated by this fact.
    • Ask: “In verse 12, what did Paul tell Timothy to do?” (be an example to the believers).
    • Tell the students the second part of our spiritual diet and exercise plan is to exemplify Christian behavior. In other words, we should strive to live in such a way that other believers can follow our example.
    • Ask: “In what six areas was Timothy to exemplify Christian behavior?”
      • Word – what we say;
      • Conversation – our lifestyle;
      • Charity – love;
      • Spirit – our attitude should be Christ-like;
      • Faith – our beliefs and convictions; and
      • Purity – moral cleanness.
    • Lead the class to discus what those six things mean in practical terms; in other words, what do each of those things look like lived out in real life?
    • Ask the students to silently answer these questions: “Is your life an example in those areas? Which areas need improvement?”
    • Tell the class Paul gave Timothy three specific things to do until he came to Ephesus.
    • Ask: “According to verse 13, what are those three things?” (read the Word, exhort the people, and teach the truth).
    • The second thing we must do for our spiritual health is to exemplify Christian behavior.
  5. Examine Yourself.
    • Tell the class the last part of our spiritual diet and exercise plan is found in verses 14-16.
    • Read 1 Timothy 4:14-16.
    • Ask: “What did Paul tell Timothy in verse 14?” (don’t neglect the gift of God that is within you).
    • Explain that God has given each of us one or more spiritual gifts to use in His church. We must not neglect our gift, but put it to use.
    • Ask: “What did Paul tell Timothy in verse 15?” (meditate on these truths and give them full attention).
    • Tell the class that just as a physical diet and exercise plan requires our attention and focus, a spiritual diet and exercise plan does, too. We must be serious and focused on these things.
    • Ask: “What did Paul tell Timothy in verse 16?” (pay attention to these things and continue in them).
    • Tell the class the third element of our spiritual diet and exercise plan is to examine ourselves.
    • Explain that just as those doing physical exercise or physical diet will examine their progress by weighing, measuring themselves, or seeing if they can do more physically, we must examine ourselves spiritually.
      • Are we neglecting anything?
      • Are we giving enough attention to our spiritual life?
      • Are we making any progress?
    • The third thing we must do for our spiritual health is to examine ourselves.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Show the students some of the ads for diet plans and exercise equipment that you brought to class. Tell them if they need to shed unwanted pounds or strengthen their physical bodies those plans or pieces of exercise equipment might prove helpful. But if they need to shed ungodliness and worldliness or strengthen their spiritual muscles they must do three things:

  1. Exercise Yourself Toward Godliness
  2. Exemplify Christian Behavior
  3. Examine Yourself

Ask the students to brainstorm ideas for putting these three instructions into practice.

Remind the class that tomorrow is the beginning of a new year. It is a good thing to lose weight or strengthen our physical bodies, but it is far more important for a child of God to shed unwanted worldliness and strengthen his or her spiritual life.

Ask: “What about you? Do you need to get involved in God’s spiritual diet and exercise plan?”

Tell the class any diet and exercise plan requires commitment and daily discipline. Encourage everyone to make a personal commitment to God and ask for His help to faithfully do the three things they have discovered in this lesson every day this week. Lead a closing prayer of commitment.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize 1 Timothy 4:12. Encourage them to spend more time exercising themselves toward godliness this week than doing bodily exercise.

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