2 Timothy 3:10-17 Persecutions can only be overcome by wisdom, godly virtues and divine authority

2 Timothy 3:10-17 Persecutions can only be overcome by wisdom, godly virtues and divine authority

Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Background

The persecutions that Paul encountered predominantly came from people within the Christian community: those who hold to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. (v3:5). Threatened by Paul’s teachings that exposed their schemes, they resorted to maligning and imprisoning him. Nevertheless, God delivered Paul from their evil deeds and persecutions so that he might accomplish the gospel work (see v4:17). Today’s devotion teaches us: Persecutions can only be overcome by wisdom, godly virtues and divine authority.

Observation

Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings.

In view of the mounting persecutions, Paul, who has endured inconceivable sufferings shows Timothy how he can rise above them. Here, Paul mentions five godly virtues: purpose, faith, patience, love and perseverance.

Purpose: Do not let persecutions distract him from discipling the people through an exemplary lifestyle.

Faith: To be faithful to his calling as a shepherd and be righteous in all that he does.

Patience: To be patient while waiting for his labour to bear fruit.

Love: To exercise mercy and forgiveness towards all including his persecutors.

Perseverance: To endure suffering while doing the gospel work.

In mentioning his deliverance from his persecutors (and out of them all the Lord rescued me!), Paul reminds Timothy of God’s sovereign control over his life. Therefore, Timothy must not be perturbed by the schemes of his persecutors for God will surely deliver (see v4:17).

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Paul puts forth an unequivocal statement that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will not be spared from persecutions. In fact, as the last days approach, the world will witness unprecedented wickedness (v3:1) and persecutions upon the righteous. With evil men and impostors going from bad to worse, their tactics and schemes will become more heinous and deceptive. Therefore, Timothy would do well to acquire divine wisdom that can destroy the schemes of the devil.

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.

Paul once again directs Timothy to the wisdom of the word that is able to deliver him from persecutions. Since childhood, Timothy experienced the efficacy of the word being fully convinced of its power. The word provides wisdom that leads to salvation both for himself and for the flock. Indeed, divine wisdom is needed to help navigate the schemes of evil men and overcome them.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,…

Divine wisdom is first gleaned by the proper teaching of the word. By virtue of the scripture being the very breathe of God, it remains the single primary source of divine wisdom for godly living. Paul lays down four processes through which the believer may be equipped for every good work. “Every good work” is not restricted to the work of evangelism but good works in general. The four processes are teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.

Teaching: Here, believers are taught to read the bible for themselves. In so doing, the bible becomes for them a divine source of truth and wisdom. Only when believers discipline themselves to read the bible, can they achieve profound and sustained transformation in their lives. They will also not be easily deceived by false teachings that harp on salvation and blessings as opposed to godliness.

Reproof: This refers to doctrinal correction that largely concerns the Law of Moses and the truth and grace in Jesus Christ.

Correction: This refers to moral correction that pertains to sanctification.

Training in righteousness: This refers to the process of discipleship; which is likened to training and disciplining a child towards maturity. Here, the disciple observes and emulates the life of his teacher. Timothy has personally witnessed how Paul conducted himself with purpose, faith, patience, love, and perseverance in the midst of persecutions. It was through Paul’s example that Timothy is transformed and strengthened.

Truth

The teacher cannot begin to transform his disciples’ lives until they see the truth lived out through him.

While the mind is first transformed through communication, the heart must ultimately be regenerated through observation. Paul is effective as a disciple maker because disciples observed his exemplary conduct especially in the midst of persecutions. Unless disciples see the bible come alive through their teacher, the bible remains dull, meaningless and irrelevant. The power and efficacy of the word can only be manifested in the world through a human vessel. Jesus’s incarnation where the Word became flesh is the first step through which humanity may be regenerated towards salvation.

Therefore, leaders, teachers and parents must focus on living the truth as opposed to just communicating them. Teachers must first apply the bible lessons to themselves by practising self-reflection and repentance. It is through repentance that the principles of the bible come alive to the students while they are being taught. While many take pains to ensure that the bible is accurately and effectively taught, few take time to reflect and sanctify themselves.

Persecutions can only be overcome by wisdom, godly virtues and divine authority.

What motivate evil men and imposters are self-centred pride, envy and worldliness. They attack the righteous who stand against their agenda by employing malicious falsehoods and accusations aimed at limiting and destroying their influence. This can take place any where: in churches, families and even in the secular environment. However, the devil’s end-game is not to destroy the righteous, but to cause them to hate, to doubt and to give up the faith. If believers retaliate in kind, they would have fallen into the devil’s trap.

Therefore, knowing God’s sovereign control over all things, believers must commit themselves into God’s protection and refrain from anger. When persecutors show up, it means that the gospel has made progress and hitting at the heart of evil. By godly virtues, we build the foundations through which divine rule may be established in the world. By divine wisdom, we perceive God’s secret plans and join Him in His work. Especially, in the area of leadership appointment, much wisdom is needed. Wisdom also helps us discern the motives of people, when and how things should be done.

Jesus, in exercising mercy towards His persecutors receive divine authority to destroy the work of the devil (see Colossians 2:15). Likewise, we destroy the spirits working behind the persecutors in Jesus’s name and wait for our deliverance.

Application

Are you still trying to get even with those who persecute you? Take heart that God is just and will surely deliver the righteous from harm. Focus your attention on good works while committing your future into God’s hand. In due time, God will cause your righteousness to shine like the noonday sun.

As a parent, teacher and leader in your community, do you actively uphold your teachings through your lifestyle? Spend more time in self-reflection and be intentional in living out the truths you espouse. Seek the Lord and make a list of virtues that He wants to see progress in you. Seek guidance from your cell leader and disciple maker in this endeavour.

Dear Lord, help me to be exemplary in the truths that I espouse. Cause me to be a good parent, teacher and leader. As I labour in the cause of the gospel and good works, deliver me from evil and persecutions. In due course, I can emerge sanctified and stronger. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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