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2 TIMOTHY – SERIES : NR 4
Theme: The Lord’s obedient servant
Scripture : 2 Timothy 2 : 14 – 26

READ VERSE 14 AGAIN

What an important verse, which is also significant for us in 2022!

Concerning the heresy preached by the false preachers, the behaviour of Timothy (who was the pastor at Ephesus) had to be positive AND negative at the same time. POSITIVE > He had to cling to the word of truth and preach it correctly. NEGATIVE > He had to avoid becoming involved in arguments with the false preachers.

This instruction comes to Timothy, and to everyone he had to train to take over his work. One could say that it also applies to everyone in the 21st century who is serious about bringing the Word of God to other people.

When it comes to dealing with the erroneous doctrine in the 21st century, there is – according to the Apostle Paul – two requirements:
1) Keep preaching the essential content of the Gospel message (in Timothy’s case: as it is set out in verses 8-13), to preach, to explain, to apply, to reveal, to study. Keep on. Persevere. So that the apostolic teaching and truth and doctrine can remain the rule of conduct for the church’s faith and life.
2) And here the Apostle uses unusual emphasis – he is very serious about it – Timothy had to put his people almost under oath to perform this instruction. Paul is saying: “WARN them before God” who is the highest Judge. In His PRESENCE, Timothy, you MUST see that neither you nor the people whom you are training, become involved in arguments with the false preachers. Your only task is to preach the unadulterated truth. But those who deviate from the truth produce pointless arguments about theological and philosophical issues and terms. You must NEVER become involved in that. Because you shall not bring those people to repentance and it only causes confusion in churches and believers. Such quarrels do not bear positive fruit. It is damaging to the hearers. Foolish discussions with false preachers have a catastrophic effect on the church (Greek says).
Let us, therefore, make very sure that we are taught in the truth and fervently teach it to others.

READ VERSE 15 AGAIN

On the one hand, Timothy had to look after others and on the other hand, he had to look after himself! He had to do both at the same time. While he warns and instructs others, he had been cautious himself and be subjected to discipline. That is a principle that is true of all Christ believers and not only preachers of the Word.

As saved-in-Christ, you have to concern yourself with others for the sake of the Gospel message and their eternal salvation. BUT you also have to pay attention to things concerning yourself – on your life, your devotion, your doctrine, the Scripture content that you trust.

His spiritual self-discipline had to be a living personification of the Truth, with God’s stamp of approval.

But don’t think it is easy! The Greek word we translate with “do your best” is a very strong notion that means something like “do your utter best”.

To do WHAT? To present yourself to the Lord for His disposal. As a workman of the Word of whom God approves. False preachers will always look for the approval of PEOPLE. But not where the Spirit is at work.

The Christian who can present him/herself unashamed before the LORD for approval is the person who strives to preach the unadulterated Word of Truth.

It is not here about going to heaven or hell. It is here also not about being without sin. It is about whether Timothy (and us) seek the LORD’S approval first, His praise – and whether we strive to love the absolute truth and tell others about it. THAT is the Christian who is not ashamed of his work.

God’s approval is therefore not about perfection, but about faithfulness and purity. Our endeavour should be to preach the Truth of the Gospel as purely as possible and persevere in it – and to continue with it to the bitter end.

READ VERSES 16-18 AGAIN

What does the LORD think about something like deviating doctrine? A doctrine that deviates from the Scriptures? He thinks it is unholy, godless chatter. Even if it is so-called Synod decisions or 90% of preachers vote in favour of it. Even though ALL the preachers voted in favour – except ONE – as was the case with Martin Luther at the Diet (parliamentary assembly) of Worms.

No, the Lord’s JUDGMENT rests upon deviating doctrine.

THAT deviating doctrine and deviating preachers can infiltrate a church cannot always be prevented, but here we see WHAT can be done about it, namely AVOID it. At all cost. Wrong, deviating doctrine is ungodly, says verse 16. And those who teach it and support it, fall into ungodliness. That is the exact angle from which the Spirit of Christ looks at it – through the pen of the Apostle.

It is spreading gangrene, he says. And gangrene kills. The same way false doctrine spreads and brings about death.

In the Ephesian church of the time – where Timothy was the minister – there were deviating preachers who preached the wrong doctrine concerning the resurrection of the dead. They said that the resurrection already took place – which is in direct conflict with the teaching of the Apostles.

Paul mentions the false preachers by name – Hymenaeus and Philetus.

Those two have strayed from the truth. The Greek verb means to miss the target. False preachers miss the target and God condemns it.

The future resurrection of the body is a fundamental part of the Gospel message. Read for example what the Apostle Paul teaches about this in 1 Corinthians 15. In verse 12 he is saying that the false preachers in Corinth deny the fact of the physical resurrection completely. To them, it was merely a spiritual, mystical resurrection.

And, as is always the case with deviating false doctrine, the false preaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus destroyed the faith-confidence of some members and caused great confusion in the people at Ephesus.

What then is the apostolic instruction to Timothy and to everyone in 2022 who desires to be Biblically orthodox? Verse 16 > AVOID the false preaching at all cost. KNOW the truth SO well that you can identify the subtle deviating doctrine. Identify the deviating preachers. And avoid them at all costs. For the sake of the honour of God and your wellbeing.

READ VERSE 19 AGAIN

There is a sharp contrast between – on the one hand – the insecurity that false doctrine and false preachers cause – and on the other hand – the firm assurance that the truth of the apostolic preaching offers. It is a solid foundation, says the Apostle. And it stands rock-solid. It is the steadfast immovability of God’s character which is the firm foundation.

The true church of Christ is built upon a firm foundation. Ephesians 2:20 confirms that. That is the teaching of the apostles and the prophets. And if the foundation is firm, the building is also sturdy and fixed. The body of Christ – that is the true saved Christ-believers together with their children – the covenant community – is secure if it is built on the firm foundation of the truth. If the church allows the false doctrine to enter and accommodate it, the church allows the enemy to weaken its foundation. It is a very serious situation. And very real for us today!

In antiquity, it was the practice to put an inscription on a building to indicate what the purpose of the building was going to be.

The Apostle used this as an example by saying that the building of God – that is the true body of Christ (the true church) standing upon a firm foundation – is sealed with an inscription written by God himself. It is like a hallmark of authenticity. Not meant literally, but spiritually. God has placed His seal on His true church by way of a double inscription. It is valid for all individual Christ-believers also.

The first is from Numbers 16:5 > “The Lord knows those who are His”. Wonderful! What assurance and protection. He KNOWS His chosen ones already before the creation. Exactly for this reason can/must a person who confessed that he belongs to the Lord, not tolerate injustice of any description.

And that is the second of the double inscription: Perhaps based on Isaiah 52:11. Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn AWAY from wickedness if you are someone who confesses that number 1 personally applies to you.

In the true church of Jesus Christ, it is about ASSURANCE and SANCTIFICATION. Those people who have an assurance of salvation, are also those who at the same time is serious about the holiness of life.

READ VERSES 20-21 AGAIN

In verse 19 the Apostle already said between the lines that the church of Christ can be compared to a building standing upon a firm foundation. Well, now he is saying – yes – the church is like a large house in which there are all kinds of articles: some of gold and silver, and some of wood and clay. Some are for noble purposes used only on special occasions. Others are for everyday use. Everyone/everything is useful, but not everything is used in the same way. It is therefore not about the gold/silver articles that are BETTER than those of wood/clay. It is about the different uses and duties. All true Christians ARE part of the house of God – the church of Christ – and everyone is useful and serviceable, BUT not all in the same way. Everyone has different gifts, duties, callings. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 explains this clearly.

Some are chosen by the Lord for a particular use, but as verse 21 says, ANY good work is the calling of ALL Christians. Otherwise, you are not a Christian. Being a Christian is synonymous with serviceability and usefulness.

It was though the ACCOMMODATION OF THE “EVIL” that jeopardised the church’s usefulness. Christians and churches must purge themselves of this evil to be holy, set aside and useful for ANY service to their “owner” (that is the Lord God).

The question is: WHAT is this “evil” Christians and churches must cleanse themselves from? The context of the chapter answers. It is the divergent preachers and false doctrine – the gangrene
verse 17 spoke of.

We should also see a PRINCIPLE in this verse. You may also read any EVIL into this. In other words: ANYTHING in your life that grieves the Spirit. All forms of evil. It prevents you from spiritual growth and your usefulness. Get rid of it. Confess it, believe in the cleansing power of the blood of Christ and turn your back on it. Deal firmly with all forms of sin.

Take note: It is the Christian believer’s task and instruction to do the cleansing. It is not God’s work.

Anyone in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, WANTS and STRIVES to be set aside and useful. Therefore this self-cleansing has to be done. Root out the evil. Get rid of all the false doctrine and the influence of the divergent preachers. But also all forms of evil. An obedient church SHALL be useful in the hand of God. He promises it here black on white.

READ VERSE 22 AGAIN

This is a wonderful verse. The way to destroy evil is to recklessly live a Christ-filled lifestyle positively. On the one hand, Timothy had to FLEE from something and on the other hand, PURSUE something. It is an ongoing process of fleeing and pursuing.

Put a Spirit-filled lifestyle in the place of the evil.

Timothy was still young and therefore he had to be aware of THE evil desires threatening young people. Apart from sexual temptations, the apostle is also thinking about conceit, quick-temper, ambition, impatience, pride and so forth. We see that in verse 24. Even though he was still young, Timothy had to behave like someone who have already reached spiritual maturity. He, therefore, had to strive for righteousness, faith, love and peace – in short: the character attributes of Christ himself, because Christ LIVES IN him through God the Holy Spirit.

All that speaks of integrity. A Spirit-filled person always displays something of deep integrity – which means a UNIFORMITY – a consistency. A believer never behaves as an individual, but is always connected to others within the body of Christ and therefore must perform JOINTLY WITH those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart – different to the unsaved world who worships other gods. It is indeed THE attribute of a Christian, that he/she call upon and know Christ as Lord. No one in the world can say that.

With a pure heart, he means sincerity – not hypocrisy. A clear conscience, therefore.

It is plain as a pikestaff that someone who is IN CHRIST is irrevocably DIFFERENT from the rest of humanity.

READ VERSES 23-24 AGAIN

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Timothy had to radiate a holy OTHERNESS. That is what verse 22 says. But verses 23-24 also say that, because PART of being different is to NOT become involved in controversies and arguments with false preachers. Of course, he always had to be ready to defend the truth, but with foolish arguments about insignificant issues and theological wit, NEVER! The fruit of that is not of the Holy Spirit. Because it produces quarrels and strife and does not bring any blessing and salvation. That fruit clearly shows that it is not from the Holy Spirit.

CONTRARY to the divergent preachers who like arguments, a true servant of Christ must have higher qualities and must not argue. He must rather endure injustice without making a fuss. In the footsteps of Christ, of course. We know how Jesus – for example – did not answer Herod. In the interest of the Gospel, a true servant must be capable of having a discussion. That is a different matter. But to give false preachers satisfaction, never. It is a lot more important to be controlled by the Spirit and make peace – IN THE TRUTH of course!

Here are three great attributes of a true servant: 1) Prepared to endure and endure the evil 2) Able to teach God’s Word to others 3) Friendly and kind towards others. The servant’s attitude, therefore, keeps the climate and atmosphere wherein the Gospel message is taught correctly. Nothing IN HIM must be an obstacle to cause people to refuse to listen to the Word. NOTHING in the servant must place filters over the eyes and ears of others so that they will/can not listen to the Word.

READ VERSES 25-26 AGAIN

ALL Christians who take their God-given calling serious and try to reach people with the Word shall meet people who are negative towards the Gospel message and oppose it. That is a fact. The natural person does NOT accept the things that come from the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14). They are undoubtedly still lost and have not yet seen the light. They are in opposition to the Truth. We should be gentle towards them. Not resentful. Not forbidding. The door must be left open. Yes, they MUST be rebuked. But in a friendly way. Because how does one know whether the Lord does not want to do something for them.

The apostle puts it clearly. He does not beat about the bush. These kinds of people are without a doubt caught in the trap of the devil. They are kept in captivity. According to Ephesians 2:2, it is true of ALL unsaved people. Without the rebirth, all people are caught up in this trap and obeys the will of the devil.

FOUR things are vitally important: 1) They must repent/turn about 2) They must get to a knowledge of the truth 3) They must receive sober insight 4) They must be freed from the trap of the devil.

BUT NOW LOOK CAREFULLY: God must do it himself! The lost person does not have the ability.

It is also not to say that God shall do it. Look how the Apostle puts it: “In the hope that God will grant them repentance “

Everything, everything, everything rests in the hand of HIS sovereign decision. OUR TASK is to be faithful and to sow the Seed and to pray and to speak.

The Lord help us to that end

Translated by Marthie Wilson

Category 2 Timothy

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