Spiritual Fitness

Compass for the Journey November 2020

1 Timothy 4:1-9

In this passage, Paul was instructing Timothy in how to be a faithful and profitable servant of Jesus Christ. In the first five verses of First Timothy chapter 4 Paul was warning Timothy of some of the errors and doctrine that false teachers would spread around the church. 

Then in verse 6, Paul says to Timothy that when he points these false doctrines out to the brethren then he will be a good servant of Jesus. And that by words of faith and the sound doctrine taught from the Word of God, spiritual nourishment is found. He then tells Timothy to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness and makes the trustworthy statement concerning the current and eternal value found in godliness.

In these words to Timothy, Paul gives to us the keys to spiritual fitness which is profitable in this world and in the world to come.

I. Spiritual Diet

Spiritual fitness begins with a healthy diet. What is your spiritual diet this day? In other words, from where do you draw your spiritual nourishment? Our diet plan is given to us in scripture:

Jeremiah 15: 16 “Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.”

We need to seek out and eat the word of God. 1 Peter 2:2 “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” Babies will let you know when they are hungry. Our attitude should be like that!

John 4:31-34, where Jesus is speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well, we have this recorded conversation between Jesus and the disciples: “Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did He?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”

And this is as Paul told Timothy, as he tells us, that he would find spiritual nourishment by knowing and teaching the words of faith and sound doctrine. (v6)

II. Exercise Faith

Spiritual fitness goes beyond our nourishment, it requires exercise. Paul tells Timothy in verse 7b “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Paul often used athletic analogies to drive home the need for spiritual discipline. He introduces such an image with the words discipline yourself.

The verb here is gymnaze, from which comes the English “gymnasium.” It means to exercise or train oneself. The expression alludes here to the gymnastic exercises among the Greeks, which were intended as a preparation for their contests at the public games. The verb tense indicates not a one time effort but a continuing pursuit of discipline. 

Spiritual fitness requires one to train at godliness in one’s walk with the Lord. The Father wants us to exercise our faith. To get beyond knowing what is right to do (reading and studying), to actually doing what is right.

If you know what you are to do (you have heard) then you need to do (exercise your faith, discipline yourself to godliness.)

III. Pursue Godliness 

Pursuing godliness has benefit in our lives today. It is profitable not just to one side of our being, but to every aspect of it, physical and spiritual, temporal and eternal. In striving to be more like God, more like our Savior, we reap the benefit of godliness.

In Colossians 3:12-15, We put on all of these characteristics in our pursuit of godliness. We put on the new self, walking in newness of life storing up treasure in heaven. God’s life (godliness) enriches our lives now and leads us towards eternal life.

The things of this world are transient, they will all be done away, but godliness will extend into eternity. The profit of godliness lies in the promise made to godly people which relates to the life that now is, but especially to the life that is to come.

Under the Old Testament the promises were mostly of temporal blessings, but under the New Testament, they are of spiritual and eternal blessings. Whatever we may have endured for the sake of Christ we will experience gain beyond measure in life that is to come.

In this passage, Paul gave to Timothy, and now to us, principles which are true and dependable.  Truths upon which we can build our faith and our lives in Christ to be spiritually fit.


Pastor John Punni