Today: [2 Timothy 2:] Resolving the Entanglements of Life: Does everyday life interfere with the character of your walk with God? Do you feel that your spiritual values are being crowded out by the demands of work, family and other responsibilities? Paul addresses these things in our chapter, naming them to be “the entanglements of life.”
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[2Ti 2:1-13 KJV] 1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 5 And if a man also strive for masteries, [yet] is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. 6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. 7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. 8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, [even] unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 [It is] a faithful saying: For if we be dead with [him], we shall also live with [him]: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]: if we deny [him], he also will deny us: 13 If we believe not, [yet] he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
Our chapter opens with Paul exhorting Timothy as a son in the faith to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. That implies that there is access to grace that originates on our side of the equation, in other words, there may be something you as a believer can do to increase your experience of the grace of God in life. Grace is understood to be “the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in one’s life.” We are strong in grace when we cooperate with the perceived influence of the Holy Spirit. This means that we adapt our responses to life’s demands to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and not our own passions or sentiments. We choose not to despair or to become angry. We make decisions based on spiritual values and not yielding to the pressures of life in a natural or self-serving way.
Paul also urges Timothy to rehearse to others the teachings that he has received. He is to bring to mind what he has been taught and to communicate the same to faithful believers who will be benefited by the same. When you hear anointed teaching or preaching, do you talk about it to others? This is what Paul is advocating in v. 2. He also tells Timothy to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ. The word there means hardship. Make no mistake about it – from a natural standpoint, there are times that faith seems inconvenient and complicating. Paul insists (v. 4) that the soldier of Jesus should not entangle himself with the affairs of life but rather commit his way to the Lord. Do you feel at times that life’s responsibilities crowd out faith? In years past it was common for churches to hold three or more services a week and be well attended by their memberships. Now services are limited to one general day of worship a week, and regular attendance is sporadic at best. According to current statistics, church attendance is meager in the western world and plunging by one percent a year since 2000. The statistics are as follows:
What these statistics tell us regarding American Christianity is that two out of every three professing Christian in the US are so entangled with the affairs of life that they have no time or inclination to attend church. In the context of being a soldier of the cross that is desertion and dereliction of duty. Another sad fact is that the character of our churches is changed from what once was a vibrant spiritual community to more along the lines of church as entertainment and therefore the people don’t find spiritual support that has any relevance even vestigially to their lives. Paul calls for a consideration of these things and for Timothy as a leader in his day to set the example. My late father regularly expressed his distress that his pastor (of the 11th largest Assembly of God church in the world) spent more time in the pulpit chatting about sports and his golf game than he did actually preaching the gospel. Exactly how does the pastor’s golf game spiritually edify and support his congregants?
Paul’s admonition (v. 8) is a return to the rudiments of preaching Jesus Christ as the seed of David, crucified, laid in a tomb and raised the third day. This is more than history. It has total relevance to our lives, and if we can’t find the application, it is because our leaders have strayed from the simplicity of the gospel in their desperation to hold the attention span and member loyalties of their congregations. Paul admits that Christian leaders (v. 9) will encounter challenges and trouble even in his case unto bonds, but the word of God is not bound. For this reason, Paul endures the pressure for the sake of the gospel.
[2Ti 2:14-26 KJV]
14 Of these things put [them] in remembrance, charging [them] before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, [but] to the subverting of the hearers. 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
In his exhortation to faithfulness, Paul calls upon Timothy to put the people in remembrance that they keep the main thing the main thing and not get tangled up in teachings and practices that subvert the faith in their lives. Furthermore, Timothy is to study to show himself approved unto God a workman that has no reason to be ashamed of himself. Leaders are men and women who lead. If you are not spending more time in prayer and more time in the word than those you claim to be over you are a leader in name only. It is a shame to have a prayerless pastor. It is a shame to have a pastor who only studies the word long enough to gather up a three-point sermon for a 20-minute presentation on Sunday.
There were also challenges in Timothy’s day dealing with profane babblings that increased to more ungodliness. When those who reject the fulness of the Spirit read this, they claim that Paul is speaking against those who practice glossalalia or speaking in tongues, but that is not the case. What we are referring to is endless preaching and teaching that is no more than mindless banter with no substance and no spiritual character. This type of doctrine eats like a cancer at the strength of the church and Paul tells Timothy to suppress this influence in the church. In other words, there are some things a leader is to speak against in defense of the spiritual well being of the people. In Timothy’s case, the reference is to a pair of teachers who claimed that the resurrection was passed. There are elements of this in the church today. They are called “Preterists” who say all the prophecies of the New Testament were fulfilled in the first 100 years of the church. They marginalize the idea of the coming of Christ and assault every expectation of the people of God regarding the advent of a coming age. As these were to be rejected in Paul’s day – even more so in our day.
To the mention of all this mixture in the church, Paul declares that there are many vessels in a great house, some to honor, some to dishonor. It is a truth that a ceramic toilet and fine china are made of substantially the same material but what kind of vessel do you want to be? Do you want to serve at the Dung gate or the King’s gate? If you would be a vessel of honor then (v. 21) purge yourself from the pernicious influences that tend to draw men away from God and constitute your life as not your own, but rather be a vessel of honor sanctified and suitable for the Master’s use.
Timothy is also to flee youthful lusts and instead to follow after righteousness, faith, love, and peace with all such as call on the Lord out of a pure heart. That means that not all who call upon the Lord do so in purity of heart. These are those (v. 23) that continuously occupy themselves with foolish and unlearned questions that gender strife rather than godly edifying that is in faith. Timothy is to deal with all these matters, not as a dictator but (v. 25) in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves in hopes that God will grant them repentance that they may recover themselves from the snare of Satan because they have been captured by him at his will.
What about your own life? Are you exercising these disciplines or do you struggle with the pressures that Paul itemizes in this chapter? What about your leaders, if you even have any? If your leaders are falling under the weight of the entanglements of the world that Paul identifies in this chapter, then you make it your commitment to set the example for them. Pray for them. Be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. Take responsibility for yourselves that customarily we have left to the institutions of the church. In so doing you set a fire break against the tide of secularism and darkness that is seeking to inundate the church and quench the testimony of Christ in our communities.
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