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2 Timothy: Chapter 3

May 23, 2010

Christian life was becoming harder than ever. The ever-present opposition from Satan was taking on a new and frightening dimension as Roman persecution increased. Christians were dying for their faith. And some were renouncing their faith to save their own skin. Christian leaders in particular were feeling a pressure to back off of certain teachings and to take a lower profile. As Paul continued into chapter three of the letter, he drew the lines of battle in plain, unmistakable terms:

2Ti 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
2Ti 3:2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
2Ti 3:3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
2Ti 3:4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
2Ti 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

What made these last days terrible was not primarily Roman persecution. Rather, it was the sinful hearts of many, even some who sought to have a “form of godliness.” People loved the wrong things. Persecution simply reveals what we love most.

2Ti 3:6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,
2Ti 3:7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.
2Ti 3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.
2Ti 3:9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

Some leaders, taking advantage of the carnal Christians, led them astray with a weaker, watered-down version of the message. They gained control over the weak-willed, over those who were susceptible to temptation through their evil desires. That kind of message was more attractive to the weak in those treacherous times. They were weak, not because they had not heard the truth (they were always learning). But it seems that the unfaithful Christians had not experienced the whole truth, because they had not put the truth into practice.

Joh 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Joh 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

But in the end, just as Pharaoh’s magicians ultimately failed to prevail against God, the leaders who were leading these people astray would also fail. They had no power, and could not possibly prevail against God. They would do much harm, and would lead many astray, but eventually they would be seen to be false teachers and enemies of God.

2Ti 3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,
2Ti 3:11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.
2Ti 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
2Ti 3:13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Paul hoped for better things from Timothy, his son in the faith. Timothy was well aware of Paul’s life. And there could scarcely be a better example than Paul, of a mere mortal overcoming persecution. That example was not just for Timothy, but for everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus. Paul showed that it could be done. The only question for Timothy, and for us, is whether we love Jesus enough to do likewise.

2Ti 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,
2Ti 3:15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
2Ti 3:17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul reminded Timothy of the firm foundation for his faith. He knew the scriptures. He had learned the wisdom of God for salvation. He had everything he needed in order to set the same kind of example as Paul was setting. The challenge for Timothy was to fulfill what he already knew. As Jesus had said,

John 13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

We need to make the scriptures our solid foundation. We need to let them impart wisdom, and then we need to live by that wisdom. In doing so we will be able to acknowledge the truth. We will learn to love what God loves, and to hate what God hates. And so we will be equipped to do God’s work faithfully in spite of persecution.

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2 comments

  1. Yes we also need to utilize Paul’s writings throughout Ephesians as well as 1 and 2 Timothy where he tells us to study, be watchmen, and rightly divide the word of truth.
    Be discerners knowing good from evil, for in the final days even some of the elect shall be deceived.

    Far too many people who claim to be Christians don’t even know their bible, have never even read it all the way through from cover to cover, let alone be able to stand and deliver an accountability to a non believer.

    I believe this dumming down of American Christianity is a ploy of the devil to allow the Brian McLaren’s, William Paul Young’s, Leonard K. Sweet’s, and Rick Warren’s in to the “Christian” community and slowly tear the church apart from the inside out.

    I grew up in the Plymouth Brethren movement where there was far too much backstabbing and fighting and legalism going on. I left that movement because of that, Satan used them to sully the name of Christ with their hatred rather than love, but I don’t think we should go the other side of the pendulum and love all without comparing to Christ. Would Jesus really say the things that those people are saying? NO! Jesus said He and he alone is the way the truth and the life.


  2. We preach Christ crucified, and win sinners to a loving God. Yet our loving God calls for us to be alert against false teaching by some. You do well to remind of Paul’s warning given to Timothy but applying also surely to us today.



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