2 Timothy 2:14-19 The way to change the world, is to let the world to see the Christ in you
2 Timothy 2:14-19 The way to change the world, is to let the world to see the Christ in you
14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”
Paul gave his life fighting to keep the church pure so that it may continue to transform the nations towards righteousness. However, the church had been infiltrated by worldly ideologies which sought to change the spirit of the gospel message but short of denying the divine origin of it. The devil works not to deny Christ’s divinity, but rather Christ’s mission; to transform humanity towards righteousness. Paul’s opposers purported that Christ came primarily to take away the consequences of sin for those who subscribe to the religion’s rituals and knowledge without the goal of a sanctified life. They taught the word inaccurately leading many towards worldliness and ungodliness. However, Paul instructed Timothy not to engage in quarrels with the opposers for it will only cause damage to the faith of the people. The recourse is for believers to first be transformed by the word and then, to allow the world to see Christ in them. Paul asserted the immovability of God’s foundation as having this seal: those who belong to Christ will be evidenced by their righteous inclinations and abstinence from wickedness. The core mission of Christ is not to mindlessly exonerate all who go to church, but to destroy the power of sin for those who believe so that they may be conformed to Christ’s image and be saved. Today’s devotion teaches: The way to change the world, is to let the world to see the Christ in you.
Solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless…
Paul instructed believers especially those under Timothy’s ministry to resist the temptation to change another’s conviction through intellectual debates. Here, to “wrangle” means to argue, to fight about the word’s interpretations and implications. For impetuous and overzealous exchanges of any kind will not provide for spiritual edification. Instead, they dishearten, confuse and stumble all who are present. Thus, with grave seriousness, Paul charged them not to attempt to change the opposer’s convictions through intellectual debates.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed.
Indeed, it is impossible to change a person’s convictions through rigorous intellectual debates. More than often, a person’s convictions are rooted in the values and inclinations of the heart as opposed to the mind. Hence, Paul instructed Timothy not to engage his opposers in a quarrel, but to be diligent in handling the word accurately. “Handling” (orthotomeo) means to make a straight path or to cut a road across country so that the traveler may go directly to his destination. That means preaching the word as it is without embellishing it with worldly allure and incentives. Thus, Timothy, to be approved to God as a workman is to fulfil the task of teaching and guiding his flock along a straight path towards the goal of godliness without being turned aside by worldly ideologies. In other words, Timothy is to divert his attention away from his opposers, to study the word diligently, to be changed by it and to teach it accurately.
Many ministers during Paul’s time, misrepresented the gospel in a bid to increase their church’s membership. As a result, the church was filled by people who were set on personal gain as opposed to godliness. Therefore, Paul instructed Timothy, “But avoid worldly and empty chatter…”, which is to avoid teachings that fuel and justify one’s appetite for worldly and worthless things.
Paul surfaced two men (Hymenaeus and Philetus) who have taken the worldly and empty gospel to a level that ruined the faith of many. They purported that the resurrection has already taken place; all who are in the world are living out a resurrected existence despite the fact that none of the dead are raised. Thus, those who bought into this mindless ideology had nothing more to look forward to other than to indulge in sin, and fleshly pleasures of the world. However, Paul spoke about a true resurrection that will take place on the last day. And he warned believers not to be deceived but to avoid bad and immoral company.
If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:32-33
Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,”
Here, Paul spoke about a seal on the day of judgment which only Christ is worthy to open (see Revelation 5:1-2). When Christ comes on the last day, He knows those who are His by their heart’s postures and by their fruit. Speaking about the foundation, Paul alluded to the prophecy of Isaiah and the judgment that will come upon the church,
Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,
a firm and tested stone.
It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.
Whoever believes need never be shaken.
I will test you with the measuring line of justice
and the plumb line of righteousness.
Since your refuge is made of lies,
a hailstorm will knock it down.
Since it is made of deception,
a flood will sweep it away. Isaiah 28:16-17
The people of Judah thought they would be exonerated despite their evil because of their heritage as children of Abraham and by their observance of the law. Like their counterparts in the North, they were found guilty when tested in accordance to the measuring line of justice and and plumb line of righteousness. And for that reason, they were decimated. That firm foundation: Christ, the cornerstone, will judge every person’s heart and works according to the word. Indeed, for all who call on the name of the Lord, their lives will be tested against Christ’s measuring line of justice and plumb line of righteousness. Therefore, in view of the judgment to come, Paul charges, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” In the same breath, non-believers will also be tested by the same standard of Christ’s justice and righteousness.
A church focused on the word is evidenced by the abundance of the fruit and gifts of the Spirit
While a church focused on the word is evidenced by the abundance of the fruit and gifts of the Spirit… a church focused on worldly blessings is evidenced by the abundance of human sentiments and fleshly desires, but devoid of the power to transform and deliver. Paul instructed Timothy never to appeal to people’s worldly appetites or the fear of punishment in a bid to bring them into the church (avoid worldly and empty chatter). Not only are people given false assurances of salvation, its ministers and members become mired in worldliness and sinfulness. Such a church appears to be flourishing on the outside but devoid of the fruit and gifts of the Spirit. It is likened to a tree with many leafs and branches, but with no fruit for harvest. For such will be cut down and thrown into the fire (see Matthew 3:10).
As ministers and believers, if we do not want our church to be cut down and burned on the day of judgment, we must heed what Paul has said. Be fully aware that entrance into the kingdom is on the basis of faith; a righteous life, not on the basis of knowledge or covenantal rituals. The apostle Paul said,
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
In the above, Paul warned the church of Christ’s immovable seal on judgment day: measuring line of justice and plumb line of righteousness. When the day comes, Christ will judge every person base on how he has lived his life. Just like a good tree will bear good fruit… A regenerated life will inevitably produce the fruit of the Spirit. A churchgoer, who despite many years in attendance continue in worldliness, and unfaithfulness will not be saved unless he repent. Jesus preached,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away.” Acts 3:19.
Therefore, a church focused on the word will lead the flock to grow in Christ’s virtues and power. Indeed, members who love the truth will live out the fruit and gifts of the Spirit in increasing measure. They will be the salt and light of the world, being actively engaged in charity causes. At the same time, they do not tout the prospects of a more luxurious life or an assurance of salvation apart from godly living.
The way to change the world, is to let the world to see the Christ in you.
The way to bring the world to Christ is not through rigorous intellectual debates, or by touting eternal blessings, but by living out Christ’s virtues and power. Intellectual persuasion may change one’s mind, but a good testimony transforms the heart. Parents can cast a powerful influence over their children not by forcing them to go to church or by enforcing a strict regime of prayer and bible reading, but by living a life of truth and kindness. Ministers can likewise move the flock in the path of godliness by their testimonies of faith in the midst of tribulations.
That said, a Spirit-filled life cannot arise out of a vacuum, it has to be founded on diligent meditation of the biblical text. That is why Paul charged Timothy not to wrangle about words, for such a person is shallow supposing he can win others over by proving that he is right. Not only is such a one shallow, he comes across as impetuous and quarrelsome, the very opposite of Christ-likeness.
Handling the word accurately involves harvesting from the biblical text the keys that are able to unlock the virtues and the powers of Christ in the believer. How do we do that? By reading the biblical text slowly, digesting every word while being dependent on the Spirit to reveal that which unlock the Christ in us. This process of meditation, revelation, and sanctification will produce a marked change that may initially be unnoticeable to the believer. But to the people around him, he radiates unprecedented wisdom, faith and power not seen before. People will also notice a subtle change in the way he responds to difficult people and situations for there is an uncanny confidence and wisdom that comes from within. As he hears God more clearly, his assessment of circumstances also becomes more objective and the decisions he makes become rooted in God’s perfect will.
Such a one becomes the very manifestation of Christ in the world. Christ is lived out through his words and works drawing men to God. How can believers draw all men to Christ? Unless they live out the essence of Christ minus the worldly embellishment in all they say and do!
Are you accustomed to arguing as a means to win others over? I can safely say that you have not led anyone to Christ by means of an argument. But more than often you damage relationships and deprive yourself of future opportunities to share in a transparent manner. How then can we reach out to others effectively? First, you must accept the fact that conviction comes not through intellectual exchanges… It is when they see something divine in you that resembles God. Only when people encounter the Christ in you can they come to the saving knowledge of God.
Dear Lord, open my heart to the truths that are able to unlock the Christ within me. Cause me to live out divine wisdom, love and power in the daily situations. Cause me to be quick to listen while being slow to speak. Bring out the Christ in me so that others may be drawn to you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.
2 Timothy 2:8-13 The more believers persevere in the face of unjust suffering, the more the gospel shines through them
February 22, 2018