The times we live in are changing and have changed as most of us are aware. Those who watch the news and read newspapers realise very quickly that the world is confused about itself. As people will always look to be directed, even if we try and set out our own path and the importance of authority is stated and explained in scripture, in other words where do you go for answers? What can we expect to happen if the world doesn’t have an agreed-upon standard by which they will live? What can we expect to happen when the church doesn’t have its conscience captured by the standard of scripture?
It would seem strange to look to the world that is confused about itself for instruction on how to navigate our way through life. If we are to navigate our way through life as individuals, as a family, as parents, as a church then the word of God is our compass. In other words, do we see and understand the provisions that God has made for us? Being a Christian means that when you are reading the word of God, you will find that God will convict us of sin and of the truth that we are to believe.
When God addresses the environment in which we live, the focus is on people, what people are like in the world and God in His providence warns us to stay away from some, there are those who have a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. Then we have those to who we must watch and follow as Timothy did with Paul “you, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,” (2 Timothy 3:10)
Summary of the text: 2 Timothy 3:1-17
Verses 1-9 teaches us that these terrible times involve people, verses 10-17 teaches us that not all people are the same. So this message is for all, not one can be left out, whatever your position in life, whatever your belief, whether you follow Jesus or not. If your single living for God, a parent trying to bring up your child/children, old or young whoever you are you are represented here in chapter 3 of 2 Timothy.
V1-9: Changes over time
In many ways, the word of God addresses the fact that certain things are getting progressively worse as time goes on. When Paul says to Timothy, that in the last days, he’s not referring to a collection of days right before the very end, as though there are like eleven of them and then Jesus will return. Both Paul and Timothy understand that the last days began at Pentecost when God sent His comforter into the word, God the Holy Spirit. Peter in his sermon quotes the prophet Joel and describes the days he was living in as the last days.
The times have changed and God wants us to be aware. These terrible times are explained by the description of what is present and what is absent, both of which are connected to people. V2 we have the presence of love for the wrong things and the impact that lovers of self and money will have on society and the family. We don’t have to think too hard as Paul explains what else is present, boasting, pride, abusiveness, disobedient to parents. In other words, when there is the presence of love for all the wrong things, there is with it a social destructiveness, where families begin to fall apart.
At the end of v2 into v3 Paul is describing that the terrible times also come down to the absence of the right things, we notice this by his use of beginning each word with “un”, ungrateful, unholy, unforgiving. The absence of what is truly good. We are not to make the mistake that all of this is happening out there, that Christians are naturally immune because they are Christians. If we ask the question, what do these people look like, how would we be able to spot them, Paul gives us his answer v5 they have “…a form of godliness, but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”
As all of this happens, we also recognise that those who think that they belong to God but actually don’t are more destructive than those who don’t belong to Jesus. Christians learn in an environment (Church) where everyone calls themselves Christian, but it has also become the place where everyone lives so differently. As a parent, I am under no illusion, that the hardest questions I will have to answer to my children are the one that will arise from them being with other Christians who live the Christian life differently. Does that make me better than them or them better than me, this is to ask the wrong question. The right question to ask is whose life is the most consistent with God’s truth properly understood.
When changes are answers
The word of God allows us to see and causes us to understand how a person changes. The general rule is an observable one, dead things don’t grow and living things do. Christians have been made alive in Christ and therefore certain changes are not only expected but will occur. Gradual growth is also hard to see but that change will be seen in how our life demonstrates the answers of what it means to be a Christian.
Paul says to Timothy in v10 onwards, you, however, are not like these I have been describing and neither am I. How does Timothy know that to be true v10 “…(you) know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance.” Paul’s life answers Timothy’s questions. The challenge for all of us is to come alongside someone who doesn’t follow Jesus and say to them “do you want to know what Christianity is like – watch me” . This is the relationship between Timothy and Paul. One life provides answers to another.
In verses 14-17 we learn that development is about keeping true to what is true. Timothy is told, to hold on to God’s word, learn for life change as you have done since you were a child. In other words now is not the time to stop, there will never be a time to stop. It was the exposure to God’s word that led Timothy and which was able to make him wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and is able to make the man of God thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The gospel is not something which we can leave behind, as if we only needed to hear it once in order to be saved and we don’t need to hear it again. The usefulness of God’s word is explained for us, Paul says it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, the reason, v17 that you may live in such a way that you are equipped for every good work.
Where we go for answers
Many Christians will overlook many important scriptures and therefore their implications and applications. What follows is that they will be unable to find the right answers to the questions they have. They may find an answer that suits them and therefore their conscious becomes captured by a view which may not necessarily be the correct one. When the conscience of a person has been captured, only the word of God will be able to correct the heart if the heart has been captured by a false idea, belief, philosophy or the like.
Therefore delight in the word of God, praying that God would enlighten your mind with the view to changing your heart, helping you to read and understand the word of God. Take the time at least to think through why this is such an import part of the Christian life.