Wecome to Logia, the personal blog of Paul Hartwig. Reflections and resources to enhance understanding of what God has revealed of himself in Scripture.
Each day we are all bombarded by life threatening germs and viruses. Our body is continually under attack and always in danger of physiological degeneration. Yet our bodies save themselves. Its called the immune system. With most people their natural immunity defeats the nasty intruders and huge mortal battles are won without any personal awareness. Only when our immune system is outclassed or malfunctions do we become aware of how important it is. On the whole, it saves us a thousand times a day! Thank God for our immune system.
Now what about saving yourself from all the immorality, infidelity, error and emotional manipulation our hearts and minds are bombarded with daily and weekly ‘world without end’? In the teeth of the fact that any sin has disastrous consequences - consider how Adam’s sin was far from any open defiance against God but committed almost by mistake - how do we save ourselves and keep our spiritual immune system robust? Let us listen to the apostle Paul’s words to his protégé Timothy (1 Timothy 4:26):
“Pay attention to yourself and the doctrine. Continue firmly in them. For doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”
The latter part of these instructions takes us by surprise. We are not used to seeing the command to save or deliver employed in this reflexive sense. The contiguity of words ‘save yourself’ is startling. Normally the appeal to save is addressed to God and the verbal action of saving has God for the subject and humans for its object. Here Paul seems to put this order on its head. Without getting into the depths of systematic theology, we should hear the Spirit in this text call us to the urgent and indispensable task of keeping our persons clean from our daily contaminations.
So how do we ‘save ourselves’ and those we speak to? We do this by doing two things: (1) by paying continuous attention to ourselves; and (2) by paying continuous attention to the doctrine.
Self-management is put first because ‘like a city that is broken down and without a wall, so is a person who cannot control his spirit’ (Proverbs 25:28). Self government is the draw-bridge that gives or denies access into the citadel of your life. Paul expects Timothy to never rest the reigns of the horse on its neck: ‘Hold the reigns to your own life firmly Timothy, for if you do, and do so contentiously and continuously, you will save yourself’. Or as Solomon again says: “guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life’ (4:23). Then Paul directs Timothy into Christian doctrine. Yes doctrine! Any self-governance must be for some objective and into some direction. The path Paul wants us to direct our lives is into the teaching of the Lord. This is the truth about God, creation, salvation and all that relates to the Gospel in Christ. This is the ‘lamp of the Lord’ and directs our feet in the Way everlasting. Doctrine is how we can see what is at our feet, what the dangers are around us, and in what direction we are to go. It is ‘the path of the righteous which is like the bright morning light growing brighter and brighter until full day’ (Proverbs 4:18 NET). Outside of the parameters of doctrine we are lost in the dark and ensnared in the devil’s lies.
So, fortify your own spiritual immune system by these two agencies. Do them for dear life. If you do these two things you will keep yourself from destruction. Take your life by the throat, and spend the remnant of your days within the script of Scripture. You will also be of immense help to others. You will be able to keep them from error and direct their feet into the Way everlasting with you. In the ‘way that seems right to a person but its end is the way to death’ (Proverbs 14:12) you will be a beacon of truth and hope. How the churches and communities need such people! May you and I become such for the sake and salvation of ourselves and our hearers. What could be more urgent than this?