Even though the world hates righteousness it maintains an appearance of religion. Today people are spiritual. There are loads of false religions out there. There are also loads of people calling themselves Christian yet having no real form of it, no obedience or transformation whatsoever. Some use grace as an excuse for license and others look very pious yet are steeped in legalism and they’ll tear people down with judgment and gossip. Timothy was to avoid such people. Paul said it would be like this in the end, but obviously saw present application for Timothy. Whether I sit toward the end or not, there is present application. I should steer clear of such people as well. They’ll tear a church apart. We often run after them, sometimes falling into their false teaching. We’re tempted to give into them because we hate losing members, but until they’re changed by the gospel they’ll only bring others down. False teachers prey on weak-minded people. In Ephesus it was a group of women who’d fall for any new heresy that came up. They said they wanted to grow and learn, but the only thing they wouldn’t grow in was the truth. It’s no different today. People are eager to learn something new for various reasons. They’ll fall for any new fad that comes along and gets popular. Paul was probably talking specifically about the rise of what would become Gnosticism at that time. Today it’s going back to OT law or diet, licentiousness, prosperity gospel, name-it-claim-it, and so on. It’s often the more rebellious and immoral spirits who fall for such things because they aren’t grounded in the truth. The example Paul used was not from the OT but is in the 10 Commandments movie. They were the magicians who competed with Moses and lost. Even though they deceived some, God rejected them. While it was a major issue in the church, in the long run they’d be found out and God would set it all straight. That’s encouraging to me as a minister when there are those who try to pull people to heresy or make false claims against me or what I preach. God will shine the truth forth. He is the One I answer to.
The exhortation, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols,” came to mind here. Dear children, keep yourselves from heretics, perhaps. The kind of people Paul talked about shouldn’t be tolerated or entertained. They are enemies and must be cleansed from the church. Of course plenty of people, all to some degree, need some cleansing of theology and practice, but we’re talking about those sewing the seed of heresy, leading others astray. Some apply this to people who won’t live to their standards in areas such as attire or Bible translation or music. That’s really not what Paul was talking about. If anything it’s more the opposite. It’s hard work for a church to rid itself of a popular person spreading false ideas. We’d hope they’d be teachable, and some will, but generally people are just looking to prove their point and draw others in instead of really seeking the truth. I’ve had calls from JWs trying to prove their point. They say their seeking answers when in fact they’ve made up their mind and won’t even begin to listen to reason. So don’t get into pointless debates. I’ve never argued anyone into faith. We can correct gently, but not get into hot debates. Some might even begin to listen that way, but others will remain captive to the devil. Are there areas where I’m too stubborn to see the truth? Am I too easily swayed by good arguments? Lord, continually ground me in Your Word and Truth! I prayed just before beginning to read today for a greater desire to spend time with God in His Word and prayer. Then this passage reminded me of the times I’ve heard some fancy argument only to think of or have the Lord very soon bring up the actual truth straight from the Bible to reassure me of whatever odd argument had been made. This daily diet is necessary for health.
Some church leaders had abandoned Paul. It seems some were against Timothy at Ephesus, too. I know all too well how much of a struggle that can be. It hurts. Moses knew the same pain. Paul referenced Korah’s rebellion where Korah and some others rose up against Moses & Aaron supposing they were better fitted for the role. Yup, been there. It’s amazing how common that is. I’ve felt hints of that myself as a subordinate, although I think I’ve done well at understanding there was a lot I didn’t know and still being submissive. I learned that lesson by failing initially, but I had gracious people to help me through it. Having sat on the other side, though, I have a far better perspective. Timothy needed to remember that God knows who are His just like He did in the days of Korah. Men may fail. They may have a wrong perspective, but we are secure in the Lord. He knows the truth. Those who follow Jesus must turn away from such rebellious people. They taint a church. They’re a leaven, a cancer in the body the must be dealt with or their evil will spread. That’s far easier said than done. It’s sometimes hard to recognize the sinful parties or to admit what they’re doing is sinful. But we do have the Holy Spirit to lead us if we’ll seek Him and yield. Even then we don’t always get everything right. So there’s grace. Thank You, Lord, for Your grace!