2 timothy 3

DAY 1

2 Timothy 3

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

There are some who teach that the end times will come after that they call, “the rapture”, or during the thousand-year reign of Christ. Here Paul understands that the last days started with the coming of Christ, and we’re still live in them; they’re not sometime in the future. The proof of this is in v 5 where Paul says Timothy is to have nothing to do with the end-time people he describes. We are currently living in the end times because nothing more needs to happen before the second and final coming of Christ. And what about the “terrible times” mentioned by Paul? Only in the “Christianised” west is it possible to say the “great tribulation” is yet to come. So many of our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world today live and die from the most terrible tribulations.

What a description of godlessness we get in this passage! It’s not that everyone will be like that all the time, but rather it is a general description of the culture. We do see much in our world that is good and wholesome, but it’s true, is it not, that when we see such good things it’s a welcome relief and stands out like a beacon in the midst of a whole lot of stuff is not so good. TV and radio programmes have “good news” segments to highlight some encouraging things in the midst of all the gloom. Scratch the surface of lives and we do see that people are lovers of themselves and money, are proud and boastful. In fact, our world actually values and promotes self-love (“pursue your dreams”) and pride and slander (observe the proliferation of gossip magazines and TV shows).  It derides self-control and promotes the pursuit of pleasure (“if it feels good do it”; “it’s not helpful to deny yourself the things that you think make life good”). These ideas creep up on us. As I write I’m aware how much these things that the Bible labels as godless have become part of our own lives as believers and how we have not critiqued the whole pride-in-self, self-love and pursuit of pleasure memes but have promoted them even to our children. I have seen a school motto encouraging pride! I’ve been struck watching the Olympics and Paralympics at how often the athletes talk of the sacrifices others have made for them to achieve their dreams. Ian Thorpe once spoke in an interview about how selfish the life of an elite athlete has to be. And we praise that! I love sport and It’s OK to pursue excellence but surely not at any cost! 

We need to critique our culture much more carefully, because these things are even in our churches – “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” [v 5] What is the power they deny? It can only be the power of God in the gospel which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes [Rom 1:16]. 

The Bible teaches that humanity is not basically good. That runs so counter our world’s view. The problem is our view of godliness. Godliness is not goodness. It’s not a moral description but rather a reverence towards God which leads to good deeds. That is biblical goodness. You cannot be “good” in God’s eyes if you deny him and his son, no matter what your life is like. 


PRAYER

Father of truth and love, give me a heart that attaches itself to you in love and devotion. Keep me from the wrongful influences of my world. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY 2

2 Timothy 3

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

Look at Paul’s instruction about the godless.  “Have nothing to do with such people” [v 5].  Paul’s description is general description of our world, but he seems to be specifically referring to false teachers here because we are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves. We are to spread the gospel to all nations, and you can’t do that if have nothing to do with such people. So, we look at the context and see that Paul has been talking about false teachers and will continue to do so in the following verses. He says they have “a form of godliness” and they worm their way in to people’s homes and fool gullible people. (Here Paul refers to gullible women, not because all women are gullible but because they are the ones who will be home during the day and because maybe, generally speaking, they are the ones more often open to spiritual matters. It’s no accident that 60% of Christians in church are women, and it’s no accident that 59% of people say the most important influence in their coming to faith was their mother, while 38% say their father (NCLS 2011 Sydney Anglicans)). So, he is first and foremost warning against false teachers. Such people are to be shunned.

As we watch closely the lives of prominent “Christian” leaders and teachers we can see that too many show themselves to be lovers of money, proud, arrogant, and boastful. Many teach falsehood clothed it in what looks like biblical teaching. As we saw earlier, character is everything in a Bible teacher.

There are many false teachers around today that masquerade as Christian. You will find teachers in “Christian churches” who claim that Christ did not physical rise from the dead; that Christianity is just one of many paths to God; that Jesus will not return as judge; that Jesus did not die in our place taking our punishment.  We should not tolerate such teachers. “Have nothing to do with them.”, says Paul. As godly people we might feel that we should tolerate such teachers and focus on the things we have in common rather than our differences, and that is a normally a wonderful attitude but many of these teachers are preaching what amounts to “another gospel” and are keeping people out of the kingdom. Paul takes a drastic approach towards them in Galatians 1:8. You won’t find a stronger statement of rebuke. It really could be a matter of eternal life or eternal death, and as such we should not tolerate such wrongful teaching. 


PRAYER

Father, protect your church from the influence of those who want to lead it somewhere other than to Christ crucified and risen for us. Give me a love for the lost that will not tolerate those who lead people astray. Amen

 




 

 

DAY 3

2 Timothy 3

8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

Jannes and Jambres are not mentioned by name in the Bible but according to Jewish commentaries on the Exodus account, and some pagan writers, they were the magicians in Pharaoh’s court who opposed Moses by imitating some of Moses’ miracles. These men looked like the real deal when it came to opposing Moses – being able to replicate some of the miracles God gave Moses to perform made it look like Moses was nothing special, just one among many sorcerers. With false teachers it might be hard to distinguish them from the real thing if you just look at outward appearances. They may be able to do some impressive things that might look like “manifestations of the Spirit”, and it may seem God is blessing them because of their success, but we need to look beneath the outward things into the heart to see their character and look at what they teach. Are they humble or proud? Are they loving or arrogant? As we saw yesterday, this may sound very critical and fault-finding, but Paul focused a great deal on the horror of false teaching, as did Jesus with the scribes and the pharisees, whom he scathingly criticised, calling them hypocrites, blind fools, blind guides, whitewashed tombs, snakes and a brood of vipers [Matthew 23:13-33]. Pretty confrontative stuff and all because Jesus saw the danger in their false teaching. They were shutting the doors of the kingdom in people’s faces [Matthew 23:13]. 

The warning against false teaching is not limited to churches. Many false teachers do not even pretend to be Christian. They are teaching that there are other ways to God, or even no way. They are still false teachers. Some years ago, the books and movies by Dan Brown [The Davinci Code] promoted all sorts of conspiracy theories around the fact that the Christian faith was the based on lies and influenced many at the time. The new atheists promote the idea, wrongly, that science has disproved the faith [e.g., Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens], and they keep many from checking out the faith. 

Paul then encourages Timothy by saying that these false teachers will be found out [v 9]. Jannes and Jambres were found out when they could not duplicate some of Moses plagues and confessed, “This is the finger of God.” It’s noteworthy that Pharoah still would not believe even when his magicians changed their minds. There is a stubbornness in people’s hearts that keeps them from even listening to the gospel. I remember discussing the efficacy of the faith with some people when one of them said to the others, “Don’t even bother arguing with him he has all the answers.”, yet still wouldn’t listen, despite the fact that he recognised there were answers to his issues. 

False teachers will be found out, but they may do great harm in the intervening period. 


PRAYER

Lord, save me from indifference when it comes to the truth. Give me grace and wisdom as I engage with those who oppose the faith given in the Scriptures. Amen

 







DAY 4

2 Timothy 3

10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 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. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 

What an incredible thing to be able to say – “You know my character and my teachings.” He’s in effect telling Timothy, “I’ve told you that you should judge those who teach buy their character and their message. Well, judge for yourself whether I’m the real deal.”  Of course, Timothy knew Paul well, having travelled with him on missionary journeys. Was Paul being boastful? No, he was not claiming perfection, but focus. We, likewise, might say to someone who had been through some tough times with us, “You know how patient I was and how I put up with what happened still treating those who caused the problems with respect.”, and say that without being boastful.  Paul was not responsive in his behaviour and attitudes but proactive. He had determined beforehand how he was going to act when persecuted, and he encourages Timothy to do the same. 

We should never forget that there are eyes watching us, both for a model to follow and for the opportunity to criticise. It’s no good waiting until we are mistreated to work out how we will handle it, by then it’s too late. We need to have determined that long before the situation occurs. How will I respond when I’m abused? How will I act when that person at work mocks my faith? 

“Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” God is able! He is in control. However, Paul does not expect deliverance from his current situation. God is able to deliver him, but he suspects that it might be in terms of an eternal deliverance [2 Tim 4:6-8]. The prospect does not cause him to think that God will have failed him. Rather, it’s an indication that he is indeed a disciple of Christ because persecution is part of the job description. Jesus himself said much the same thing, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” [John 15:20; see also Mark 10:30]

Living a godly life is not an optional extra for Christians, and it’s not a way of life reserved only for the “super-Christians”. However, godliness is not just about living a moral life but as we’ve seen in previous days it involves devotion to God, and that must involve sharing the good news. Phillip Jensen makes the point that people are rarely persecuted for living a godly life. It’s standing for the truth and proclaiming the gospel that causes persecution. [Phillip D Jensen “1 & 2 Timothy for You” pg. 177] Paul obviously does not anticipate that there will be Christians who will say that they don’t have to share the gospel verbally because their lives will show it. That will never bring the persecution that the Bible says is integral to being a believer. Furthermore, actions are ambiguous. People will interpret your good works in all sorts of way that will never lead them to think of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We must speak. 

Are you prepared to speak when the opportunity arises? What would you say? Could you share the gospel in a 30 second opportunity? What place does the cross have in your sharing of the gospel?


PRAYER

Lord and Heavenly Father, may my way of life be matched by my words as a disciple of Jesus. Amen

 





 

DAY 5

2 Timothy 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, 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. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Again Paul’s focus is on right teaching. It was obviously a serious issue in the churches Timothy pastored and Paul is determined that Timothy remain true and keep his church true. Notice again the focus on the conduit of the message being a person of integrity, and it’s not just Paul but Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and grandmother Lois [1:5]. Lois must have been a very early believer, because Timothy, now and adult, had been taught since infancy and the letter to Timothy was written about 66-67AD.  Hebrews 13:7 says, 7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.”  We need to be praying constantly for those who teach us the Bible that they be people of godly character, and not just the leaders of our won church but all Christian teachers and leaders.  So much damage has been done by church leaders who have not led godly lives! 

Paul talks about “the Holy Scriptures that make you wise for salvation.”  That was the Jewish term for the Old Testament. The Old Testament points to Jesus but it alone is not sufficient to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter refers to Paul’s letters as “scripture” [2 Peter 3:16], a technical term to refer to God’s authoritative writings. Furthermore, Paul refers to a passage in the gospel of Luke as scripture [Luke 10:7]. Here in 2 Timothy Paul infers that the writings we now have in the New Testament are “scripture”. 

Then Paul makes that classic statement about the authority of scripture in verse 16. “All scripture is God-breathed.” Of course, this is not a new view of scripture that comes from Paul. Jesus quotes the Old Testament as his authority on many occasions [e.g., Luke 10:26-28; Mark 12:10] and even describes some of the Old Testament as God speaking [e.g., Matthew 22:31]

All scripture is breathed out by God, not just “inspired” like we might describe a poet as inspired. The Bible is not just inspirational, it is breathed out by God – all of it! Not just the words in red. The words we read are the words of God. I preached on the character of God many years ago and a woman came up to me afterwards and told me that her God was not like the one I Described. I pointed out that I had just described God the way the Bible did, and she replied that it didn’t matter, her God was different. The only conclusion to that is that her god is not God. The Bible gives the wisdom necessary for salvation. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. If it is not God-breathed, then it is no different from any other piece of literature. 

You sometimes hear the accusation that we reformed believers worship the Bible rather than God, but if the Bible truly is God speaking then you cannot drive a wedge between God and his word. To honour God’s word is to honour God. 


PRAYER

God, thank you for your word. Help me by your Holy Spirit to honour it and obey it. Amen

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