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!
I’ve taken about as much time in the letters to Timothy as I did in some of the longer epistles. There have been some distractions along the way, but I’ve also dug into each verse in a little more detail. It really does speak to my hear as a pastor with great depth. Of course for a task oriented guy like me I’m also ready to complete the letters. Worth it. During this time after I’ve resigned from GBC I get some time to reflect, although family takes a lot of attention. I’ve really appreciated the encouragement that I’ve stayed true to the Word in my teaching. There is plenty of other encouragement that also means a great deal to me, but that one in particular is one Paul wrote about to Timothy. I believe I’ve handled His Word rightly and with integrity, even if it meant some wouldn’t like it. I believe I’ve helped people see how to live it, not just know it. There is plenty of opportunity for profane chatter. Plenty of preachers are ear ticklers. And during this time when people are confused as to why we’re gone there are opportunities to gossip and I really don’t want to do that. I think we’ve done pretty well. A lot of the profane chatter Paul wrote about was heresy. People preached their own ideas rather than solid truth from the Word. It fit the culture of the day much like very liberal theology and the prosperity gospel fit our culture now. They submitted the Bible to modern philosophy and viewed it through that lens rather than looking at things from a biblical worldview and their message spread like gangrene The only way to deal with gangrene is amputation. Their false teaching was literally damning people. Philetus and Hymenaeus were very Greek. Greeks thought the soul was immortal and the body was a temporary prison, so the idea of bodily resurrection didn’t make sense. They couldn’t fully wrap their minds around the truth since it was different. They practiced synergism. They taught there was no bodily resurrection and that the complete resurrection had already happened. One of the great truths of Christian faith is that our bodies will be raised in glory as well. It doesn’t make sense to our finite and fallen minds, but it is the truth. I think sometimes we try too hard to make everything make sense in human ways. I’m a logical guy. Logic and reason even tend to enhance my faith. But that’s because I start with what I know to be true from God’s Word and then everything else tends to fall into place.