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2 Timothy 3:10-13

At this point in 2 Timothy, Paul admonishes Timothy to take a different course, to run counter-culture, upstream in a downstream world.

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

 

10 You, however, have followed—

In contrast to those who resist the truth, have corrupted minds, and are disapproved by God regarding the faith, and as such are part of the ungodliness that makes the times so perilous, “You, Timothy, are part of the counter-culture because you have closely followed my whole approach to life.”

“Follow” is the same word used by Luke to describe his careful research of the facts of the gospel of Christ. He meticulously researched what the facts really were. So Timothy was to meticulously follow or match up with the way Paul lived.

Those who keep the faith in this way are equipped to oppose and to survive the evil character of the times. This is something we all need, an understanding of what it takes to actually survive in fierce or difficult times. It is a valuable passage for us as we seek to Follow Closely.

  • Example of the Devout (2 Timothy 3:10)
  • Sufferings of the Godly (2 Timothy 3:11-12)
  • Downfall of the Wicked (2 Timothy 3:13)

 

I. Example of the Devout (2 Timothy 3:10)

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,

You could hardly find a better description of what it means to be a disciple maker. We know the Great Commission talks about making disciples of all ethnicities. We talk about making disciples, life on life, connecting with people. That’s what is supposed to happen as you as a believer connect with other believers. This would be true of every believer here, old or young. Your life impacts other lives. What is that supposed to look like? Paul gives us a terse, profound statement of it.

Teaching: This is more than classroom experience. It is an immersion into a life. When we talk about discipling or impacting others and helping them continue through difficult times, we are talking about more than just teaching Bible verses or standing at a lectern. We often think that we are not a Sunday school teacher, a pastor or deacon, and it is their job to make disciples. The reality is that we impact people most with our entire life. We see that it does involve teaching, instruction, and doctrine. You are teaching them the Truth of the Scriptures. You are actually sharing with people what the Word of God says. You are full of the Word, immersed in it, and ready to share it with other people.

You don’t always have to quote a Bible verse or a reference in order to share the Word. You can just weave Bible into the conversation. They don’t have to have the reference for the power of the Word to impact them. Let the Word of God fill you and then give instruction to others.

Conduct: Instruction is what Paul did for Timothy, but it was far more than that. He said you followed my teaching, but you also followed my conduct. The word literally means “leading.” It’s the way Paul led his life. If someone is going to follow me I need to lead. What kind of pattern am I setting? If someone is walking the path right behind me, what kind of path are they following?

Sometimes we don’t think of life that way. Some of you who are fourteen may think that when you grow up you will serve Jesus. You are teaching others now. What path are you walking, because there are people walking the path behind you? What your conduct is will be determined by your aim in life.

Aim in Life: Basically, Paul made God’s purpose his purpose. We each do well to ask the question, “What am I living for?” Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you go to work? Why do you do the things you do? Why do you say the things you say? Why are you alive? What is your purpose in life? Sometimes we feel like we are on auto-pilot and do whatever feels natural at the time instead of being intentional. Life goes by so fast. What are you doing with it? It is a gift from God to be used.

Faith: Paul’s active trust in God, in His Word, His wisdom, relying on His will, confident in Him, and trusting in His timing. The reality is that the longer we live, the more things we face, and the more we are called on to exercise faith in God and that He actually knows what He is doing. If God is not reliable, if His Word is not true, if He is not faithful, then suffering for Jesus is like a fool’s life. We are banking everything on the belief and confidence that God is true and completely reliable. No matter what happens God will not abandon us. Can you imagine the horror of getting through this life and 100 years into eternity God, says, “I’m done with you.” If we are going to survive in perilous times and have a life that means something, we have to know that God is reliable.

Isn’t it the reality that God through our lives keeps testing and building our faith? He keeps bringing us through experiences and asks, “Can you trust me now?” Think of all the experiences Paul had. All through those he has people like Timothy watching him go through it. Watching him on trial being vilified, getting beaten, suffering in prison, watching people trying to destroy his ministry. They are watching to see if Paul will hang onto God through it all. Now they are watching him as he waits in a dungeon expecting at any day to have his head severed from his body. “Will you trust Me now?”

Patience: Heretranslated as long-suffering in the King James, but I’d like it better if it was really translated literally as long-temperedness. Paul evidenced this fruit of the Spirit despite poor treatment from others or the irritations they caused. The times are perilous because people are wicked. It’s people that make it so hard. Long-suffering is absolutely necessary if you are going to serve Jesus. It also means that you and I will have lots of opportunity to display genuine Christianity and have opportunity to keep our fuse really long because there are lots of irritations and mistreatment, particularly when you live in a world that hates Jesus.

Paul is undergoing this mistreatment and Timothy is getting to watch the power of the Spirit help him show patience and long-suffering. As I thought about this trait, do we not often show the world something different from patience? We know people mistreat people, we just don’t want them to mistreat us or our kids.

What happens when someone bumps your cup or irritates or pokes you? What comes out is what was in there. Paul is telling Timothy that what was in there was this fruit of the Spirit, patience. Imagine the power of a life dealing with regular mistreatment from people that could exercise long-suffering to those people through the power of the Spirit. That is phenomenal! That’s not the way people in the flesh react.

Love: Self-sacrificing like Jesus did for the sake of others. Think of how Jesus ministered. He could have put the religious hypocrites in their place. He could have destroyed anyone, but look at the way He serves people, the compassion He shows. This mind is ours in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1) How are you serving others in self-sacrificing love? This is not something that is reserved for older folks or something that runs out once you get into your retirement years. This is the leading edge of the fruit of the Spirit of God. This is what a godly person looks like whether he is 5 years old or 95 years old.

Steadfastness: to bear up under (like carrying a load). This is sometimes translated patience. Pressures mount up—illness, sorrow, stress, trials, heart burdens. Think how much harder it could be when you add brutal persecution, imprisonment, beatings, executions—as believers like Paul were facing. Paul remained steadfast under that kind of pressure.

Sometimes when we face the common difficulties of mankind, I think God is training us so that when the really difficult times come we will be able to bear up under them. The difficulties we face now pale when we compare them to some of the difficulties our Christian brothers are facing in areas where there is state sponsored persecution of believers. Paul suffered this over the years, but now it was Empire-wide and this is the world Timothy would live in. He saw Paul remain steadfast to his dying day.

As you think about making disciples and think of your relationships, as you think about sharing your life with them in terms of these categories, would your life be one that others could safely follow closely? Christ has saved you if you are a believer so your life could be that kind of life. He has empowered you with the Spirit of God so your life would be that kind of life. If you would make it your aim in life to be this kind of person you could be having this kind of impact on people if you are 10 years old or 110 years old.

 

II. Sufferings of the Godly (2 Timothy 3:11-12)

11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

The term persecution literally means to hunt down people. It’s that kind of scary situation where they are going house to house looking for Christians. Paul mentions several situations:

Antioch (Acts 13:35ff)—the Jews stirred up prominent devout women, leading men of the city—drove the missionaries out of their district

Iconium (Acts 14:1-2)—Jews stirred up the Gentiles and embittered them against the brothers

Lystra (Acts 14:19)—Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, incited the pagans, who at one time thought Paul and Barnabas were Zeus and Hermes, to stone Paul and drag him out of the city as dead.

Lystra was Timothy’s home city. This was where Paul picked him up on the second missionary journey. Timothy got to see these sufferings first hand. The sufferings Paul describes happened on his first missionary journey. Timothy would have been a teenager, so he knew that following Jesus would cost him something and that it was worth doing so.

The sufferings of the godly illustrate how valuable it is to serve Jesus. Paul endured these persecutions. He bore up under them and the Lord delivered him from them all. It is possible God even employed resurrection power to restore Paul after his stoning. The language he used suggested that he may have been stoned to death and God raised him from the dead.

2 Timothy 4:16-18:

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

How can Paul say that? Even as he anticipates being beheaded for Jesus, the Lord will deliver him from death. You can be beheaded for Jesus and still expect to be rescued. That’s the kind of God we serve. Paul knew that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. He knew his resurrection body was coming. His execution will be the last time the enemies of Jesus can do him any harm at all.

There is not one shred of suffering for Jesus that He will not deliver us from sooner or later. Nor is there any sacrifice we make that He will not richly repay. God is no man’s debtor.

A church member shared this quote with me: “It will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it’s not the end.” When you live in perilous times there are a lot of days when it is not all right. There are a lot of tough times, but when the end comes, it will be all right. We anticipate that day.

12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted

Those with the ongoing desire to live in a way that honors God. It is not just all who live godly, it includes all that desire to live godly. If this is your passion then expect to be persecuted in some way. We are talking about the real thing. Jesus said people would say all manner against you falsely.

Persecution against them does not break out at all times and places, but it is to be expected at some times and in some places for any dedicated servant of God. We must not be frightened or surprised by it. Remember that it will sometimes come from unexpected sources. Much of Paul’s persecution came from people who claimed to believe the Bible and thought they were doing the work of God in their opposition to Paul.

Suffering persecution tests our commitment to Jesus. Are you in it just for the good times or are you in completely? Are you connected to Jesus for all that it is worth? It is one of the most powerful ways Christians show the surpassing worth of belonging to Jesus whatever the cost.

What are you willing to give up for Jesus? What are you willing to suffer?

What would you consider too important to lose, even for Christ? Chances are that is exactly where God will put His finger because Christ is worth more than anything or anyone else we might have. God’s servants shine brightly when they show a commitment to Him that’s willing to die if necessary and is willing to live for Him whatever the cost.

 

III. Downfall of the Wicked (2 Timothy 3:13)

13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

It does not pay to turn away from Jesus to avoid persecution and sufferings. If I say this will cost me too much to serve Jesus, remember it will cost you more if no to. It will go from bad to worse.

Evil people—wicked, harmful, injurious, worthless

Impostor—from a word meaning to wail; used for wizards and magicians, hence charlatans and deceivers

It only appears that they are getting away with doing wrong. The Scriptures regularly call on us not to fret about them. If you want some encouragement about this read Psalm 37. Their day is coming and it won’t be worth it. Don’t fret about them and for sure don’t join them.

It’s only going to get worse for them. Deceiving and being deceived—liars end up the biggest dupes of all. When you practice deceit you lose your ability to discern between truth and falsehood. By nature we are liars. The Devil is a liar and the father of it. By nature we lie to ourselves and it is the Truth of God that rescues us. The more we fill our mind with truth the better I can discern the lie. The more I tell myself and others lies the more difficulty I have finding the truth. I deceive and I am being deceived.

Proverbs 4:18-19 paints the contrast between the righteous the wicked: But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

When the dawn first comes it is like you are not even sure it has come yet. It turns a slight gray, then brighter and brighter. Eventually it is noonday. That’s the way the life of the righteous is. It can be dark now, dusky gray and one day the sun will shine brightly. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness. They do not know over what they stumble. They are to be pitied, rescued, and loved.

Whose life pattern are you imitating or following closely? Who is imitating yours? If they are imitating yours, are you giving them a chance to see what living for Jesus looks like?

Follow closely the example of the devout, realizing the godly will suffer, but that the wicked will crash and burn. You might as well live for Jesus. Follow closely.

 

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

What does this passage teach us about God?

What does this passage teach us about man?

What does this passage teach us about suffering?

Reproof

If someone were to actually follow your teaching, conduct, purpose in life, faith, patience, love and steadfastness, what would their life look like? Would they follow truth? Would they live righteous lives? Would they live lives walking by faith or by sight? Would they patiently and steadfastly persevere during times of trial and testing? Would their lives be marked by love for God and for others? Would they live for themselves?

Are there things in your life that you are unwilling to give up for Christ? What is your limit on suffering for the cause of Christ? Is there anything in your life that you would consider too important to lose, even for Christ? If there is, what should our response be to this fact?

What should our response be to the truth that "evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived?" What should our response not be?

Correction

How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of these passages?

Training in righteousness

How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by these texts?

What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by these texts?

Prayer

For what from these texts can we rejoice?

For what from these texts can we repent?

For what from these texts can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

November 16, 2014

 
Kindness Spurned PDF

 

2 Samuel 10

 (historical sample of humanity’s resistance to God’s kingdom)

  • Foolish Insult—Loyal Kindness (1-5)
  • Open War—Reliant Courage (6-14)
  • Increased Rebellion—Victorious Subjugation (15-19)

After this the king of the Ammonites died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. And David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent by his servants to console him concerning his father. And David's servants came into the land of the Ammonites. But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Has not David sent his servants to you to search the city and to spy it out and to overthrow it?” So Hanun took David's servants and shaved off half the beard of each and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away. When it was told David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown and then return.”

When the Ammonites saw that they had become a stench to David, the Ammonites sent and hired the Syrians of Beth-rehob, and the Syrians of Zobah, 20,000 foot soldiers, and the king of Maacah with 1,000 men, and the men of Tob, 12,000 men. And when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the host of the mighty men. And the Ammonites came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the gate, and the Syrians of Zobah and of Rehob and the men of Tob and Maacah were by themselves in the open country.

When Joab saw that the battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the best men of Israel and arrayed them against the Syrians. 10 The rest of his men he put in the charge of Abishai his brother, and he arrayed them against the Ammonites. 11 And he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. 12 Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” 13 So Joab and the people who were with him drew near to battle against the Syrians, and they fled before him. 14 And when the Ammonites saw that the Syrians fled, they likewise fled before Abishai and entered the city. Then Joab returned from fighting against the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem.

15 But when the Syrians saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered themselves together. 16 And Hadadezer sent and brought out the Syrians who were beyond the Euphrates. They came to Helam, with Shobach the commander of the army of Hadadezer at their head. 17 And when it was told David, he gathered all Israel together and crossed the Jordan and came to Helam. The Syrians arrayed themselves against David and fought with him. 18 And the Syrians fled before Israel, and David killed of the Syrians the men of 700 chariots, and 40,000 horsemen, and wounded Shobach the commander of their army, so that he died there. 19 And when all the kings who were servants of Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and became subject to them. So the Syrians were afraid to save the Ammonites anymore.

 

In 2 Samuel 9 we saw Mephibosheth treated with kindness and with loyal love. The same word is used in this chapter. David extended this same kindness (loyal love) to the son of a friend who had just died. That kindness was spurned, and for us it was a historical example of humanity’s resistance to God’s Kingdom throughout the ages. We see that the loyal kindness of David (vv. 1-5) was met with foolish insult. David extended this loyal kindness, and it was rebuffed with his ambassadors being humiliated and sent back. In verses 6-14 we see open war, and within that open war we see the reliant courage of Joab, Abishai and the men who fought in that battle. In verses 15-19 we see increased rebellion even after the victory of Joab over the Ammonites and Syrians. The Syrians added more soldiers and increased their rebellion. Finally we see victorious subjugation.

As we look at the range of truths in this Scripture, we see not only what happened during David’s era but also what has happened and is happening throughout the history of the world. We see what will happen at the culmination of the age. We see what happens even within our individual lives as God extends loyal kindness to us, and in our sin we reject that kindness until we are finally brought to our knees before the Lord Jesus Christ. Kindness was spurned.

I. Foolish Insult—Loyal Kindness (2 Samuel 10:1-5)

And David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent by his servants to console him concerning his father.

First consider the stark contrast of the loyal kindness of David and the foolish insult with which it is met. The words “deal loyally” can be translated as “show kindness.” They are the same words for what David showed to Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul, in chapter 9. Loyal kindness, loyal love, and steadfast love all tie into this passage and into the theme of the previous chapter.

We saw in chapter 9 and are reminded again that this steadfast love, which shows itself in kind, practical ways, is the prime characteristic of God Himself. When all around your soul gives way, when you are struggling through life, this characteristic – that God has hold of you with a love that will never let you go – is what keeps you from losing hope. It is your strength to know that God loves you and will never stop loving you. God loves sinners so much that He sent His Son to die for us while we were yet sinners. So even though we mess up royally often, there is nothing that we can do to remove God’s love from us. It is an amazing truth; it is astonishing – God’s amazing grace and His steadfast love. People who know God, who are truly godly, show the same kind of steadfast love. They are loyal to their family and friends. They show loyal love to other people and reflect what God is like by doing so.

As before, David takes the initiative in looking to show loyal love to others. Remember with Mephibosheth he said, “Who is there that I can show loyal love to for the sake of Jonathan?” In this case, David is the one who made the move toward the Ammonites to show love to them. Yet in the next chapter (10) we will see a striking contrast as David abandons loyal love to God and loyal love to Uriah and Bathsheba by taking Bathsheba as his own and then seeing to it that Uriah is killed in battle. This was a huge violation of this prime characteristic!

In chapter 9 Mephibosheth received David’s expression of loyal love with humble gratitude. Hanun the son of Nahash responded in an altogether different way:

But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Has not David sent his servants to you to search the city and to spy it out and to overthrow it?” So Hanun took David's servants and shaved off half the beard of each and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away.

What motivated Hanun to respond this way? Because of the fear, distrust, and suspicion voiced by his advisors, Hanun responds to David’s expression of loyalty with outrageous insult. In other words, he looked at the expression of loyal love and said, “I don’t believe it is loyal love. I think you are playing me. I think you are tricking me.” He humiliated David’s ambassadors by shaving their beards half off and cutting their garments off in the middle to expose their private parts, sending them home in shame and contempt.

The significance of their response to loyal kindness goes beyond ordinary dirty politics. David is the anointed King of Israel. David did not come to the kingship in just the way every other king came to the kingship. He came as the appointed one chosen by God – the man after God’s own heart. Israel was more than just a run-of-the-mill Middle Eastern kingdom. Israel was God’s Kingdom ruled over by God’s anointed. The response of the Ammonites to David’s peaceful overtures was a wicked response to Yahweh’s anointed who ruled over a kingdom that belonged to God.

David had a reputation as a man after God’s own heart. He was the one who brought the true worship of Yahweh back to Israel. He was known for his relationship to God. The Ammonites’ treatment of David is the Ammonites’ treatment of God.

David’s greatest significance is his relation to his Offspring, the Messiah, the Anointed One. David’s kingdom is but a small and imperfect preview of the coming everlasting kingdom of the ultimate Servant of the Lord, the Messiah Jesus Christ.

The same thing can be said of the local church. The local church is full of flaws. It is full of people like us, but the person who destroys the local church, according to the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3, God will destroy. Why? Because God’s people are the people of God. The way I treat God’s people is the way I am treating God. Jesus will say in the judgment, “The way you treated the least of these my brethren is how you treated me, and I will reward you on that basis.” David’s kingdom and David’s reputation is everything about God Himself, and the Ammonites’ response to him is a blasphemous response to God.

Just as David showed kindness to the Ammonite king and was rebuffed, God the Son has shown kindness to us.

John 1: “He came to his own things and his own people did not receive him.”

They humiliated Jesus, stripped Him, beat Him, flogged Him, vilified Him, tortured Him, and hung Him naked on a cross to destroy Him. This is often the way the kings and rulers of the earth respond to Yahweh and His Anointed One.

Psalm 2:

“The nations rage and the peoples plot in vain. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed.”

Look at our own country. It really shouldn’t surprise us that presidents, senators, congressmen and Supreme Court justices would basically stick their fingers in the eye of God and say, “We don’t believe your definitions of right and wrong. We are going to make up the rules!” People have been doing that ever since the fall. This is humanity’s response to God.

In Acts 4 the apostles applied these very words from Psalm 2 to the trial and execution of Jesus and to the persecution against the church. Those connected to Christ—whether David long before or us today—should not be surprised by ugly response even to kindness. In John 15:20 Jesus taught His disciples, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

How have you responded to the multitude of God’s kindnesses to you? You breathe His air, walk His planet, feed on His provision, live in His light; He has given you capacity to work and play and think and love. He has given you a variety of people who have invested in your life. He has revealed truth in His Word, sent His only Son as your Savior, granted the Holy Spirit to those who trust Jesus, provided everything that pertains to life and godliness through His exceeding great promises.

How have you responded to all of this?

Is God in any of your thoughts?

How are you showing your gratitude to Him?

Or are you among those who ignore Him, shut Him out, and withdraw from those who love Him, even mock their devotion?

II. Open War—Reliant Courage (2 Samuel 10:6-14)

Look at some key words spoken by Joab in the middle of that war which show reliant courage. In the process or context of this open war, a war we live in, here is the key to how we should fight.

11 And he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. 12 Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.”

David does not initiate war against the Ammonites because of the insult. The Ammonites go to war against David because they know the insult they have paid the ambassadors was so inflammatory.

We sin against God because we do not trust Him. We see His goodness that leads us to repentance, but we doubt that what He calls “good” is what we really want for ourselves. Have you ever had this debate with yourself? “I know that God is going to make everything work out for good, but I am not sure that His ‘good’ is going to be good for me. God, I know you are going to do right, but I am not sure I am going to like what good looks like.” When we sin our guilt drives us to fight against God all the more. Have you found this to be true? You think the sin is going to make you happy, but you find out that its only short term at best. Instead it makes you feel guilty. The guilt ought to drive us to our knees before God, but that is not what the guilt does. What the guilt does is to make us run from God more. It makes us hide and strengthens our resolve against Him. When we allow sin in our lives, it cuts us off from God. We sense the hostility. We sense the enemy relationship, and we are even more afraid to come close to God. So our sin and our guilt drive us to fight against God. It is a foolish and unwinnable war, yet it is the story of human history, the story of nations and kings, and the story of our individual lives.

Men cannot reach God to attack Him so they attack His people. That is why there is hatred for the Jews and persecution of Christians. People hate Jews because the Scriptures are clear that through them came the oracles of God and they are God’s chosen people. Why do people hate Christians? Why is it that the name of Jesus is such a divisive name? Whenever we are out of sorts with God we get out of sorts with people, especially those who are identified with God.

Joab’s words surprise us because to this point we have seen him more as a worldly warrior, not a man of faith. But what he articulates in the midst of this conflict is exactly where those who have aligned themselves with the kingdom of God find themselves in a world at war with followers of Jesus. How do we fight this war? There are two parts to Joab’s statement that help us know how to fight.

(1) Help for fellow soldiers

“If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you.

Serving one another in love is the lifeblood of the church. Bearing one another’s burdens; being there for others; rolling up our sleeves; and getting in the trenches when people need help: that’s practical Christianity. Winning the battle and having courage is a lot about just being there for people and being aware when the battle is going badly for others. Satan goes after the vulnerable. If you see someone slammed with a terminal illness, someone who has lost a loved one, someone who has lost his job, or who is going through deep waters, you can be sure that Satan has his eye on that person and will go after him. If you see a person who is now a shut-in but used to sit where you sit, you can believe that the evil one sees him as vulnerable and will go after him. The better care we give, the less vulnerable people are to Satan’s attacks. If the battle is too much for me, you will help me. If the battle is too much for you, I will help you. That’s the way life ought to be lived.

(2) Trust in whatever Yahweh chooses to do—the source of our courage in the conflict.

12 Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.”

Like Joab, even though we know the Lord wins in the end, we do not know the outcome of any particular conflict. God regularly calls on us to fight the fight of faith without guarantees of the immediate results, only the guarantee that the Lord will do what He knows to be right. We cannot control the outcomes—these belong to the Lord. We only need to give ourselves completely to doing whatever the Lord wants us to do now.

We do not know who will repent, but we share the gospel.

We do not know who will believe, but we share the Word.

We do not know if God will heal our illness, but we pray for healing.

We do not know if God will spare the life of a loved one, but we pray for rescue.

We do not know what following Jesus may cost us in this life, but we will follow Him to the death.

We just know that God will do right and that we belong to Him no matter what happens.

We know reliance on Him is the best strategy and is the only strategy.

We just know when it’s all said and done it will be worth it all.

Daniel 3:16-18

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were cast into the flame, and in the flame they met the Son of God. Not a hair of their heads was singed. Courage rises when we leave the victory to God. In that total abandon of faith we give ourselves to whatever God shows our duty to be at the present hour.

III. Increased Rebellion—Victorious Subjugation (2 Samuel 10:15-19)

15 But when the Syrians saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered themselves together. 16 And Hadadezer sent and brought out the Syrians who were beyond the Euphrates.

Stubborn resistance. Rather than letting their defeat bring repentance, they increase their rebellion to the kingdom, creating further alliances with the enemies of Israel. How parallel this is to human history. The prophets predict such a rebellion at the end of the age. The spirit of anti-Christ—those who oppose the Anointed one and seek to replace Him with their own ruler—existed in the first century. It will culminate in the man of sin. Christ Himself will come and destroy him and his armies, just as David himself joins Joab and the other commanders to finish off this regional war.

Finally, finally, they admit defeat and make peace with David and become subject to Israel, afraid to join the opposition any longer.

19 And when all the kings who were servants of Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and became subject to them. So the Syrians were afraid to save the Ammonites anymore.

This is exactly what will happen in the end of the age when every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. This is exactly what happens every time a sinner repents, sick of his sin, weary with fighting God, and longing to be rescued by the Savior-King Jesus Christ, son of David and ruler of the everlasting kingdom.

If you are still resisting God, still aligning yourself with those who justify rebellion to the King, still fighting an unwinnable war against God’s Anointed One, when will you finally admit defeat, lay down your weapons, submit your will, and trust the goodness of the Savior to save you? Like Jacob of old, when will you stop fighting God and start fighting to hold onto God?

Jesus wept over Jerusalem for stubbornly refusing to receive Him. He would have gathered them as a hen shelters her brood under her wings. Is Jesus weeping over you? Why would you refuse His steadfast love?

 

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

What does this passage teach us about God?

What does this passage teach us about man?

What does this passage teach us about suffering?

Reproof

If someone were to actually follow your teaching, conduct, purpose in life, faith, patience, love and steadfastness, what would their life look like? Would they follow truth? Would they live righteous lives? Would they live lives walking by faith or by sight? Would they patiently and steadfastly persevere during times of trial and testing? Would their lives be marked by love for God and for others? Would they live for themselves? 

Are there things in your life that you are unwilling to give up for Christ? What is your limit on suffering for the cause of Christ? Is there anything in your life that you would consider too important to lose, even for Christ? If there is, what should our response be to this fact?

What should our response be to the truth that "evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived?" What should our response not be?

Correction

How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of these passages?

Training in righteousness

How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by these texts?

What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by these texts?

Prayer

For what from these texts can we rejoice?

For what from these texts can we repent?

For what from these texts can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, South Carolina

November 16, 2014

 
Hallmarks of a Godly Leader PDF

2 Samuel 8:10-11, 15; 9:1-13

 

The two truths we talked about last time we were in 2 Samuel reveal David’s response to the battle victories God gave. Today we take these two truths up as part of a larger theme that carries into chapter 9: The Hallmarks of a Godly Leader. You might also call them Kingdom Virtues because they are qualities that belong not only to kings, but also to those who belong to the King of kings, Jesus Christ.

2 Samuel 8: 10-11, 15

10 Toi sent his son Joram to King David, to ask about his health and to bless him because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him, for Hadadezer had often been at war with Toi. And Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold, and of bronze. 11 These also King David dedicated to the Lord, together with the silver and gold that he dedicated from all the nations he subdued.

15 So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people.

2 Samuel 9:1-13

And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson. 10 And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master's grandson shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. 11 Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David's table, like one of the king's sons. 12 And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba's house became Mephibosheth's servants. 13 So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king's table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

 

Hallmarks of a Godly Leader

  • Grateful Devotion (2 Samuel 8:10-11)
  • Righteous Rule (2 Samuel 8:15)
  • Loyal Love (2 Samuel 9:1-13)

You will find these qualities in the life of anyone who is truly godly, played out in whatever degree of influence they have, whether they are a king or a pauper. They find their ultimate expression in the character of our Lord Jesus, the God-man, Son of David, promised Savior-King of an Everlasting Kingdom. It is not surprising to see that these same hallmarks appear in the lives of those who belong to Him and who are becoming more and more like Jesus. My prayer for us is not only that we would be leaders, though all of us have some influence on others, but that God would inculcate by His Spirit in us these qualities of godliness so we will shine out the character of Christ.

 

I. Grateful Devotion (2 Samuel 8:10-11)

10 Toi sent his son Joram to King David, to ask about his health and to bless him because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him, for Hadadezer had often been at war with Toi. And Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold, and of bronze. 11 These also King David dedicated to the Lord, together with the silver and gold that he dedicated from all the nations he subdued.

The first characteristic we see about David as a godly leader and person is grateful devotion. We just read about King Toi sending his son to bless David, and he brought with him articles of silver, gold and bronze. We are told in verse 11 that David dedicated these to the Lord together with all the silver and gold he received from the nations he had subdued.

David recognizes the victories we win ultimately come from the Lord. I’m not sure we are always convinced of that. There are experiences when we know it could not have been us, that we could not have won the victory apart from Him.

Those are times when we have the veil lifted and see with clarity that it is God who controls heaven and earth, who could shut off our life-breath at any instant or could hedge our way with thorns. He often gives us such a path to walk, a path of victory from Him alone.

When we understand that the victory and blessings come from the Lord it only makes sense that the spoils we gain belong to the Lord. The gains of victory became vessels of worship. This is one of the greatest lessons that godly people come to understand, that the ways they advance, their jobs, the money that comes their way, their home and car – all the blessings and bounty from God is not given for them alone, but is to be used for God’s glory from His hand.

God not only deserves gratitude and praise, but tangible expressions of our thanksgiving and our admiration. Imagine that you have found the love of your life, yet this person never shows love in a tangible way – it’s all talk. Yet how many people give Jesus talk and never anything tangible. The Bible doesn’t know anything about that kind of worship. Giving material substance to the Lord has ALWAYS been part of true worship. It’s not because God needs something. It is an expression of how much we need God. We are His servants and if we are to love God and love our neighbor, our neighbor needs more than our breath. He needs help in tangible ways.

God does not intervene in our own lives only in the spiritual realm. What if all God ever did for you was to give you wonderful spiritual truths—no food, clothing, shelter, etc. – nothing but amazing theological truths that you could spend your entire life meditating on until you died of insufficient food and water and you died of exposure.

In the same way we should not respond to God only with intangibles. We are physical, emotional, spiritual beings. We are to love the Lord our God with all our mind, soul, body, strength – everything that we are. Serving God means serving others who are physical beings, not just spiritual.

These spoils of war become part of David’s stockpile for the temple Solomon his son will one day construct. 1 Chronicles 29: David’s final instructions to Israel:The palace will not be for man but for the LORD God. So I have provided for the house my God, so far as I was able, the gold for things of gold . . . silver . . . bronze . . . iron . . .wood . . . precious stones and marble . . . . Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the LORD? 14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.

David stockpiled all of this but he understood that God did not need any of it. It was a privilege for man to take something that is just material and make it significant praise to God. Think about the way we sing to God. There is not one of us here who has a voice nice enough to sing to God. The voice we have has come from God and however it sounds, He intends for us to use it for His glory.

As God has prospered you, what should you be devoting exclusively to Him? How should you be giving tangibles toward His worship? What should you be doing that is substantive for the furtherance of His gospel mission? When the believers in Corinth were lagging behind helping the believers in Jerusalem suffering famine and Paul talked about the importance spiritually of taking part in that offering. Ultimately he took them to the fact that their responding in a gracious way to this need would generate thankful praise to God. When we take the tangibles of our life and dedicate them to the glory of God we multiply the praise that God gets. It is an act of worship and it has always been part of those who truly worship God.

 

II. Righteous Rule (2 Samuel 8:15)

15 So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people.

Justice is the word that comes from the term to describe the judges in the book of Judges. There the Scriptures talk about the aspects of governing, all three branches of government. Equity is often translated as righteousness, conforming to God’s standard of right or wrong in how you conduct business or government. Whatever authority we wield, whatever responsibilities we carry, we should show the character of the Lord because He rules with justice and righteousness. Our faithful execution of duties should be a sample of His perfect kingdom to come. We see examples of this in Joseph and how he is so reliable and godly in the way he does things and we see a picture or foreshadowing of Jesus. Daniel also served in Babylon, and they could not find anything wrong with him because he carried out his duties so faithfully.

Not all those working in David’s kingdom were godly men, such as Joab. But David’s influence on them made for good government and righteous dealings.

Isn’t it ironic that even in a country where we choose representatives from among us, how dissatisfied we often are with how they carry out their duties. It is more the exception than the rule in human government to rule with justice and equity. Anyone who rules over “all” of anything often becomes corrupt with time.

David was not that way, even with his sins, failures, and flaws. And Jesus Christ, the righteous, will rule perfectly over His kingdom. Isaiah 9:6-7 uses these two terms to describe His rule: The government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

As we look at David’s kingdom it has its flaws but it is largely characterized by justice and righteousness (equity) and it is like a glimmer of a future kingdom for which we all long, the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Humanity does not always understand that it is in Jesus they will find the perfect Ruler, but in our hearts there is a hunger for a government that will rule in this way and do the right thing.

We are part of that everlasting kingdom if we believe in Jesus. How would others describe the way you carry out your duties? What is your scope of influence? How do you use your authority and your opportunities? In what ways can you display how the coming King will treat people? (At home, school, workplace, church family, neighborhood) Sometimes we forget we are part of this kingdom if our kingdom is just self. If we are thinking of Jesus as being “our King” what would our life look life this week? What would our attitude be?

 

III. Loyal Love (2 Samuel 9:1-13)

“Kindness”—verses 1, 3, 7

And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?”

And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?”

And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”

This is a common theme in the Old Testament wherever significant relationships are in view. You have this loyal love, sometimes translated as loving kindness, mercy, goodness, steadfast love. It is such a common theme that it is demanded of those who love God.

Micah 6:8: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice (mishpat), to love kindness (chesed), and to walk humbly with your God.

This is profoundly simple, but clearly difficult for any human being to do apart from the power of God because it is so rare even among professing Christians.

David treats Mephibosheth as he does on the basis of the relationship of loyal love David and Jonathan had years before. Saul’s jealousy had not deterred Jonathan from loving loyalty to David. Nor would Mephibosheth’s identity as a surviving member of Saul’s family deter David from showing loving loyalty to him as a son of Jonathan.

It was entirely counter-cultural for the times.  A new dynasty usually saw to it that members of the old dynasty were wiped out completely. But David, as you recall, never looked at the throne that way. It was God’s to give and to take. Not his. He would not kill Saul, or Ishbosheth, nor was he pleased with Abner’s murder. He served because of the kindness of God and he wanted to show that kindness to the descendants of Jonathan.

Remember that what drew Jonathan and David together was their mutual bold faith in Yahweh. Their confidence in God’s loyal love and power to fulfill His purposes bound them together in loyal love like God’s. If you find another person who actually believes in the power and steadfast love of God you have found a treasure.

David takes the initiative. He searches out for someone he can show this kindness to. He is a king. He is a warrior. He is a worshiper. A psalmist. He is surrounded by people who want his attention and his favor. How few in such a position would even think of finding someone buried in the background like Mephibosheth – someone who needed the loyal love David wanted to show. Even Saul’s servant Ziba who tips David off to Mephibosheth’s existence notes that he is crippled and hardly a candidate for a prominent place at the king’s table. But Mephibosheth’s lame condition would only heighten David’s resolve to help him for Jonathan’s sake.

Human beings are desperate for someone who will actually care for them with loyal love not just in the celebration times, but also when things are going wrong, when everybody else has turned against them. The human heart longs for someone like that. Why don’t you be that person? Not everybody is crippled, but everybody needs this. Everybody has some profound sense of loneliness, especially in the dark times. Everybody needs to know that there is somebody who has them on their mind.

What if in the next month you would talk to the Lord and ask who you could show loving loyalty to? My guess is that if we took time to do that we would have plenty to do. How many of those people don’t even know Jesus yet? At some point we need to be convinced that God’s loyal love is greater than our sin, lasts longer than our failures, that He will never let us go, and that we can bank everything on what He says.

David does not help Mephibosheth in a limited way. David’s loyal love spawns generosity that is lavish. He gives him everything that belonged to Saul and then he puts him at the king’s table. This is what the Scripture writer seems to be most impressed with.

Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson. 10 And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master's grandson shall always eat at my table.” 11a So Mephibosheth ate at David's table, like one of the king's sons. 13 So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king's table.

If you think about the early part of Mephibosheth’s life, it is a disaster. His family is wiped out and he is crippled. He doesn’t know when David calls him that he is not going to take off his head and instead he puts him at his table.

There is one final feature of this loyal love. We’ve already touched on it, and it is the most important.

And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?”

David’s loving loyalty is God-like. It reflects God’s loving loyalty. The Psalms constantly underscore this divine quality, usually translated “steadfast love” in the ESV. In the KJV, “loving kindness,” “mercy,” or occasionally “goodness.”

God treats His people with loyal love. He sets the standard. It is a love that never lets us go, displayed in Jesus Christ. David favored Mephibosheth for Jonathan’s sake. God favors us for Christ’s sake. It’s because of relationship to Christ that God shows us loyal love.

David took the initiative. God takes the initiative. He makes the first move, else none of us could be saved.

David showed lavish generosity. But even his over-the-top kindness to Mephibosheth pales compared to God’s loving kindness to us. Mephibosheth was the unfortunate descendent of a vanquished dynasty, but not himself a rebel to the kingdom. We were rebels—by birth and by choice. But while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He died for the ungodly—those who were not treating God as He deserved to be treated. He died the Just for the unjust. He became sin for us that we might be the righteousness of God in Him. Our sins were put on His account so He could pay for them completely by His own death. His merits were put on our account so we could enjoy the reward He deserves. He gave us a place at the table of the king (the Lord’s table reminds us). The only way we deserve to be there is not by our merits, but by His. He made us joint-heirs with him. He made us saints of an everlasting kingdom.

David’s action toward Mephibosheth is godlike. People learn what God is like from the people who belong to Him. When they observe you, what do they learn about God? One thing they should see prominently is your loyal love. Your relationship to Jesus calls for it. You have to take the initiative. You need to go overboard with being generous with whatever resources you have because we are the people of God. We claim to know Him and to worship Him.

A godly person is one that Jesus has rescued. Because of that we display grateful devotion, righteous rule, and loyal love that is built on relationship that takes initiative, is generous and God-like. God extends loyal love to you through Christ.

Some of you have yet to trust Jesus. One thing you are worried about is that if you start thinking about your sin and you know that God knows about it, you are afraid to get close to God. God knows more about your sin than you do, but He loves you with an everlasting love. When the prodigal son said he had enough and had to go back, just like his father, God welcomes you with open arms. When you start moving toward Him He runs to you and embraces you and sets you up at the table of the King. What are you afraid of? God knows how you are crippled, but God says, “I want you to be mine.” Join His kingdom. The gates are open wide because His heart is open wide to you.

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

What parallels do we find between the way that Mephibosheth was treated by David and the way that we are treated by God in the gospel? In what ways does the nature of how we are treated by God in the gospel go infinitely beyond the story in 2 Samuel 9?

Reproof

In my context this week, what would a life of justice and equity look like?

God-like love is marked by initiative and generosity. In what ways are you showing God-like love right now? How does your "love" differ from God's love? 

Correction

How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of these passages?

Training in righteousness

How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by these texts?

What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by these texts?

Prayer

For what from these texts can we rejoice?

For what from these texts can we repent?

For what from these texts can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

November 9, 2014

 
Eyes Wide Open: Getting a Grip On Our Times PDF

 

2 Timothy 3:1-9

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

 

Eyes Wide Open: Getting a Grip on Our Times

1. Understand the Times—hard because of the way people think and live (1-2a)

Misdirected Love (2, 4)

Marred Relationships (2-4)

Empty Religion (5)

2. Avoid Such People (5b)

Enslaving Influence (6-7)

Corrupted Minds (8)

Doomed Future—Short Leash (9)

I have entitled this message “Eyes Wide Open: Getting a Grip on Our Times.” The two main commands in this text are: (1) Understand the times, and (2) Avoid such people. My outline is not a typical one. It is what I might call a thought-gram.

People are misdirected in their love. What they live for, what they care for, what they are passionate about, what they feel they must have, what they trust and what they give themselves to are misplaced. Whenever we get off track, we can count on it that it starts deeper than just an action, a word or thought. It is at the level of what we think we need to make us happy, at the level of desire, the level of what we love. The late Dr. Bob Jones Sr. said that what you love and what you hate reveals what you are. That was not original with him because that is what the Scriptures teach us. We are who we are at heart.

Misdirected love leads to marred relationships. If you look at the relationships of these people, you see that most of the relationships are marred. They are not what they ought to be. Affection toward others is not what it ought to be. Christianity draws people together and makes it possible for us to dwell together in unity and show brotherly affection. We are the family of God, and we live with family virtues. Those who are ungodly, even though they may be religious, will manifest the opposite of that with marred relationships. This results in an empty form of religion – a religion without power. Think about it, every religion on earth has form. Even pagan religions have ceremonies, pretty stuff, a code of ethics, a way of doing things, lists of do’s and don’ts. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if they call it Christianity or Buddhism or anything else, it is just an empty religion if all it has is form and no power. It is not the real thing. It is an empty religion.

We are told to avoid such people, not to get intertwined with people who live Christianity or religion this way. Why should we avoid them? Because there is an enslaving influence that people who practice empty religion have, and the weak and the vulnerable are easily led astray. These individuals have corrupted minds and are disqualified concerning the faith and they have a doomed future. We don’t rejoice that they have a doomed future, but we do rejoice that there is no future for this kind of living, that we will have to tolerate this kind of religion only so long. The day is coming when it will be revealed, and Christianity will prevail. True Christianity will continue. If we have attached ourselves to that, one day this will be in our rearview mirror. It will be part of distant history, and we rejoice. There is a higher throne! We long for the day when the kinds of things described in this Scripture are no longer part of our lives.

1. Understand the Times (2 Timothy 3:1-2a)

Understanding the times are hard because of the way people think and live – the way they are at the heart level.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be . . . .

When Paul refers to the future, he does not mean some time in the far distant future that the times will be this way. Last days are from the time of Christ’s incarnation through the time of His return. What Paul is basically saying is somewhat like a father would say to his son, “You are going to have some tough days. As you go out on your own, you’ll face some difficult times.”  It means that some days are going to be rough in the times you live.

When the New Testament writers refer to the last days, they are not talking about the last of the last days. They are speaking of the time inaugurated by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the way they use this phrase. The fullness of time came when Jesus Christ came to earth. He inaugurated the age of the Spirit – the new age, biblically speaking – the last days or the last period of time between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ.

What makes these times difficult is explained in verse 2: “For people will be….” Then it describes them. We want to get a grip on our times. We don’t want to have rose-colored glasses on. We don’t want to expect what life is not going to deliver.

“In the last days there will come times of difficulty.”  Yes, you and I will have some good days – days when goodness prevails. There are times of awakening or revival, but realize there will be times

that are difficult as well. This word is actually used to describe the demoniac of Gadara who was so fierce that even chains could not restrain him. So there is an ominous kind of tone as it speaks of days that would be demonic in their dimensions.

What is it that makes the times so hard? The character and behavior of people does. The description that follows lists characteristics that we commonly see not just in others but at times in ourselves if we are out of fellowship with God. A genuine believer who is out of sorts with the Lord will look exactly like a lost person. He will lie like a lost person. He will have the attitude of a lost person. Even though he is normally cheerful and easy to get along with, he will be grumpy if he is not right with the Lord. Understand that if we or anyone else thinks and behaves this way, it makes for hard times. What makes for hard times is difficult people, and what makes people difficult is that they are not right with God. Don’t think that you can be away from God and keep that covered by continuing to go to church, putting money in the offering plate, and doing all the things you normally do. Don’t think that if you’re not right with God, it will not affect anyone else. You are part of making times difficult, because it is God at work in you that makes you a blessing to other people. If you are not right with Him, you are going to make it hard on other people.

Paul wants Timothy—and us—not to be surprised when people behave this way. He wants us to be aware that such behavior produces fierce difficulties and that this state of affairs continues as the characteristic pattern of the age. “To understand” these realities keeps us from the fretful hand-wringing that is all too common among believers who should be well informed that these problems are indicative of the times.

I believe every time I have heard someone preach from this passage, they say something like “the sky is falling,” or “it is worse than it has ever been.” That’s not the point Paul is making here. Paul is saying, “Grow up. This is the way it is. Keep the faith!” If you keep the faith you will survive this and will be like insurgents in an enemy occupied territory.

In the next section Paul will exhort Timothy to doggedly pursue a different course than the prevailing age. Consider the diagnosis of the problem as Paul describes it:

a.  Misdirected Love (2 Timothy 3:2,4)

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

This is the foundational problem: our heart’s love—what we pursue to gain happiness sets the pattern of our lives. Ask yourself the question, “What do you think you need most to make you happy?” What is your belief on that? What can you not live without?  If you are a lover of self, of money and pleasure rather than a lover of God, count on hard times because your love is misplaced.

Obviously it is a violation of the greatest command to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. That doesn’t happen until we are born again. If you are not a lover of God, forget being a blessing to other people. Violation of this carries with it its own punishment in that any substitute for God, anything that takes me away from God is by definition a severe curse. We were made in the image of God to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. If you are not in love with God, you will have troubled times.

People in love with themselves are among the most unhappy people on earth. Their love is set on something way too small. They are unhappy, and they make other people unhappy, too. People love money because of what it can do for them, but it cannot make up for what God can do. Stack up all the money in the world, and it cannot do for you what God does for you. If you had every single dime on the entire planet, it could not buy you eternal life. It could not buy you freedom from the guilt of your sin. It can help you live more comfortably, but it is like a painted pageantry to hell. There is no profit in gaining even the whole world if you lose your soul (life). The lust for pleasure creates war in our souls and war in our relationships (James).

b. Marred Relationships (2 Timothy 3:2-4)

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

No one likes being around a proud person (braggart) or an arrogant (haughty, disdainful) person. Not even proud or arrogant people like to be around proud or arrogant people. It is easy to see this trait in others but it is hard to see it in ourselves.

As we continue through this descriptive list, consider what the opposite characteristic would be for you as a believer living to please God and bring blessings to others. As we go through this list, think of what would be the opposite characteristic for you as a believer, living to please God and to be a blessing to other people.

Abusive—abusive speech, slander (blasphemy)

Disobedient to parents (an anti-authoritative age)

(Young people, unless your parents tell you to do something that is absolutely contrary to the Word of God, if you love God your job is to obey them. If you are a kid, God has basically given you two commands: (1) Obey your parents and (2) Honor your parents. It is not complicated. Do it because you love God.)

Ungrateful—How many days go by when we do not give God one word of thanks?

Unholy—lack of inner purity

Heartless—do not have the natural affection family members should have for one another (primarily between parents and children)

Unappeasable—hostility that refuses to be reconciled with others

Slanderous—like the devil himself, the accuser of the brothers; “scandal-mongers” (NEB)—speak evil of people especially behind their backs. Believers need to stop passing things along that they do not know as truth. Let’s not join the ungodliness of others who do this.

Without self-control—ungovernable (a despot) of tongue or appetite

Brutal—savage and untamed

Not loving good

Treacherous—traitors  

Reckless—hasty speech or action  

Swollen with conceit—to be filled with smoke

Not everyone is characterized by every one of these all the time, but these characteristics keep showing up in the lives of the people of the age. It is easy to see that such behavior produces pain and disruption in the lives of those around them. Also it is easy to see that these sins rise from the natural human heart, reflect the rebellion of the devil against God, and bring on pain and judgment.

Ultimately misplaced love and marred relationships are evidence of an empty religion.

c.  Empty Religion (2 Timothy 3:5)

having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

Appearance is the word we get “morph” from as in something morphs into something else. The outward form is a resemblance (morph) of godliness, reverence, or a life of worship. These are characteristics of people who outwardly appear to be religious.

Here’s what makes matters worse. The above characteristics are not confined to the secular world. We find them among those who claim to know and worship God. Have you ever wondered why there are so many problems in the church? Because people make up the church, which by nature of its mission is open to all. There is always a mixed multitude when we are worshiping together.

If Christianity and worship come to be all about form and appearance, neglecting heart attitudes and characteristic behavior 24/7, then expect there to be a growing plague of behavior that makes times really hard.

The problem is there is a denial of the power (dunamis, dynamite power) of true godliness. Do you realize that if you are truly godly, that happens only through the supernatural power of God? You can try very hard and be very disciplined, but you will never be truly godly without God, without His power evident in your heart.

Would you characterize your own practice of Christianity as mainly intellectual, as forms and customs, as cultural conformity—or as divine power? There is a huge difference.

Isaiah 1:14-17

14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts
    my soul hates; they have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands,
    I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers,
    I will not listen;your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,
17     learn to do good; seek justice,correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow's cause.

Jesus turned the religious community upside down as He exposed the contrast between the prevailing religion of the times and the powerful life of one who is actually part of His kingdom (Sermon on the Mount; Matthew 23).

What would you point to in your life or the lives of your brothers and sisters in Christ that indicates the power of God in one’s life?

What does the power of godliness look like? Pretty much the opposite of the description in verses 2-4.

Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; see also Colossians 3—garments of the godly; Philippians 2:1-5)

One anothering

Serving one another in love

Self-denial

Honoring others

The power of godliness looks like Jesus!  This is a paradigm shift from the kind of self-centered rat race that so often characterizes the lives of so many. When will the godly living start?

2. Avoid Such People (2 Timothy 3:5b)

Avoid them is to be turning away from this kind of living and gathering with those who love and serve God. It indicates what any believer should be doing with practitioners of such fraudulent Christianity and possibly implies a formal obligation as well for Timothy as a pastor to take official action—church discipline—to purify the church of such people. Don’t give credibility to such behavior. It is the opposite of true godliness so don’t act as if it’s no big deal. Part of the reason for turning away from such people is the poisonous impact they have on the congregation.

a. Enslaving Influence (2 Timothy 3:6-7)

For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

Those who further this kind of religion prey on morally weak, gullible people.

b. Corrupted Minds (2 Timothy 3:8)

Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses (Ex. 7—duplicated some of Moses’ miracles before Pharaoh to harden Pharaoh against yielding to Yahweh), so these men also oppose the truth, men who were corrupted (completely perverted, depraved, ruined) in mind and disqualified (disapproved after testing) regarding the faith (body of truth that is the gospel).

c. Doomed Future—Short Leash (2 Timothy 3:9)

But they will not get very far, for their folly (without understanding) will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

Truth will come out eventually. Corrupt religion by its very nature cannot long succeed. Often it implodes even in this life, and it certainly will not stand the scrutiny of God in the judgment. There is no good future for it. Remember that, lest you be drawn away from your own steadfastness. Weed out every inclination toward such ungodliness. Cultivate true godliness.

Understand the times will be tough because of ungodly people even among those who claim to be part of the church. Avoid such people and their lifestyle. Pursue true godliness like Paul demonstrated in his life before Timothy: his teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, steadfastness and willingness to bear the persecutions and sufferings that come with such counter-culture living.

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

1. What does this passage teach us about mankind?

2. What does this passage teach us about the last days?

Reproof

1. The crowning characteristic of those who live in the last days (or any day) is that they are "lovers of self." What are some of the evidences in your life that you struggle with being a "lover of self?"

2. In the religious context in which we live, what are some of the evidences of people "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power?" What are some of the evidences in our own lives that this may be true of us at times?

3. What does the "power of godliness" look like in a person's life? If someone were investigating evidences in your life for the power of God, would they come away empty-handed?

Correction

1. How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

2. After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of these passages?

Training in righteousness

1. How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by these texts?

2. What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by these texts?

Prayer

1. For what from these texts can we rejoice?

2. For what from these texts can we repent?

3. For what from these texts can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

November 9, 2014

 
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