by Pastor Ron Thomas
RODGERS BAPTIST CHURCH
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Text: II Timothy 3:1-17
Introduction: The word "pathetic," speaks of that which is pitifully inferior or inadequate. For example, a pathetic joke would be: Question: "Where did George Washington keep his armies?" Answer: "In his sleeves." Now, that is a pathetic joke!
Jokes are one thing, a whole society is another. As we look around at our culture and society, what we hear and see is pathetic. Our nation is falling short of it's potential. It is becoming a mere shadow of it's former self. The only hope for our nation, is to return to the Word of God!
As the apostle Paul sits in his prison cell at Rome, one thing is certain. Paul is immensely aware of the evil that is in the world. Nero was evidence of this. Dangerous times were ahead for all those who believed in Jesus Christ!
The apostle Paul writes to Pastor Timothy in verse 1, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come." The phrase "last days," reveals a sense of urgency in Paul's letter to Timothy. Biblically speaking, the "last days" began with the coming of Jesus Christ and would continue, culminating in His second coming. We get a sense of this in Hebrews 9:26. "For then must He (Jesus Christ) often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." If the first coming of Jesus Christ signaled the beginning of the end of this age, we are for sure living in the "last days." The phrase "perilous times," describes times that are hard to bear, that are dangerous and full of trouble.
Recently with all the political rancor and economic upheaval, we would tend to agree that we are living in the last days, that our times are certainly "pathetic" and "perilous." However, it is the moral failure of people in general that has created this problem! In verses 2-5, the apostle Paul precedes to describe the moral character and human condition that is prevalent in a "last days" kind of world. What he describes in these verses is truly "pathetic!" Here are the reasons the "last days" will be so terrible.
Evidence Of Perilous Times
Verse 2 begins, "For men shall be lovers of their own selves." This describes individuals who are selfish and self-centered. People today are told to love themselves unconditionally. Self esteem is all that seems to matter!
"Covetous." The love of money is nothing new. These people not only love themselves, but they love money, and the things it can buy.
"Boasters." These are people who are quick to broadcast their own accomplishments. They spike the ball in the end zone as if they got there by their own effort!
"Proud." Pride is an inflated view of self. Man has become his own god!
"Blasphemers." These are people who scoff at God, and slander others as well.
"Disobedient to parents." This is self explanatory. It speaks of children who have a bad attitude toward their parents, breaking the fifth commandment. A disobedient child is immediately a problem for the family, and eventually will become a problem in society.
"Unthankful." These are people who do not appreciate anything. Instead of looking around and finding reason to be thankful, they find reason to whine, gripe, and complain!
"Unholy." These are people who refuse to be measured by any Biblical standard. They do not care what the God of the Bible says about their desires and drives, or their attitudes and actions.
Verse 3 continues, "Without natural affection." These are people who have a low regard for normal family love or sense of obligation. When a life is filled with love for self and money, there is not much room for anyone else!
"Trucebreakers." These are people who will not be reconciled, who had rather propagate strife! They are filled with anger and bitterness.
"False accusers." These are people who slander, tell hurtful lies about others. They are individuals who are loose with the truth, for their own advantage. We see this lately in the world of politics. Candidates purposefully distort their opponent's record and positions.
"Incontinent." These are people who possess no self-control, no restraint over their actions, emotions, or words.
"Fierce." This is the opposite of civilized. These individuals are barbaric! They are insensitive, crude, merciless, brutal and cruel.
"Despisers of those that are good." These are people who are so given to sin and evil, that they actually hate and despise anyone who attempts to be good or righteous; those who dare reach for the ideal, or a higher moral standard.
Verse 4, "Traitors." These are people who are ready and willing to betray anyone to make themselves look better. They will as we say, "Throw you under the bus, for their own personal gain."
"Heady." These are people who are reckless and headstrong. They have no concern for consequences and can't be told anything!
"Highminded." These are people who are conceited, with a larger than life opinion of themselves.
"Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." These are people who are hedonistic. They worship pleasure, living for the moment, without considering the collateral damage or consequences!
Verse 5, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." These are people who are big on symbolism, but short on substance. They are religious, but know nothing about a personal relationship with God.
Paul ends this section with the warning, "......from such turn away." Whose left? Very few! The people who are characterized by the above actions and attitudes in today's culture, are often regarded as pop culture's heroes! The world holds them in high esteem! Christians should have nothing to do with these people. We must assess their character and respond accordingly! Jesus tells us that we can identify such people by their fruits, their words, attitudes and actions! We must not watch their movies, purchase their music, wear their fashions, or reflect their ideas in anyway! Let everyone know why you turn away from such people! Proverbs 22:24-25 reads, "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."
In verses 6-7, Paul goes on to tell Timothy just why it is so important to separate ourselves from the above. Why? They are creeps! They are false teachers who "creep" or worm their way into people's homes and lives to manipulate them and propagate their lies! "For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." These men target and take advantage of those who are weak in their knowledge of God's Word, and weak in their will to resist sin. In this case, Paul identifies what he calls "silly women," who were homebound and gullible. Sad to say, the culture at that time did not allow women to participate in society, learning, and education. Christianity began to change this attitude towards women. These people were controlled by various lusts, whither it be a lust for material things, or a lust for status, attention, and romance. They were willing to listen to any teacher who came along, which led more to their confusion, rather than the ability to recognize the truth.
Paul further illustrates these kind of people in verses 8-9, with two personalities (male not female) from the Old Testament. "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was." Who were Jannes and Jambres? Most believe that Paul is referring here to the court magicians of Pharaoh, mentioned Exodus 7:11-12. Their particular names are not recorded in that passage. Obviously their names could have been given to Paul by the Holy Spirit, or they could have come from the oral tradition of the Jews. Sometimes Paul even quoted secular poets to make his point, and in doing so, included their words in the canon of Scripture. These two men possessed corrupt minds and a "reprobate" or counterfeit faith, in some cases duplicating the miracles performed by Moses. They opposed the truth, and were rebels against Moses and God. When you pick a fight with God's leader, you pick a fight with God Himself, and you always lose! God, His Word, His truth, will always prevail! Paul says in II Corinthians 13:8, "For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth."
Paul proceeds to contrast these two misguided souls with his own life. Timothy was blessed to have someone in his life who "...talked the talk and walked the walk." Notice verses 10-13. "But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." Timothy knew the content of Paul's teaching, the conduct of Paul's life, the character of Paul's faith, as well as the consequences of Paul's serving Christ in a corrupt, sinful world. Paul was real! He had proven himself to be a worthy example to follow by the things he suffered in the service of the Lord!
Bad examples are a dime a dozen! Sad to say, there are plenty of pathetic Christians around. Following them will cost you dearly. Look around and find someone who has suffered for his or her faith. A new generation of Christian leaders needs to identify those who are tried and proven. Follow their faith!
In verse 14 he tells Timothy, "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them." Paul is reminding Timothy of lessons learned, of timeless truths that have been passed down through the ages. He is never to abandon the things he has learned; the things spoken to him by his mother, his grandmother, by Paul; the things that have been tested, tried, and proven. Instead of forgetting these things, he is to build upon them.
In verse 15, the apostle Paul recalls the role of the Word of God in the home where Timothy was raised. "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." Timothy was blessed. He had a mother and grandmother who saw to it that he was exposed to the Word of God. From a child, Timothy heard the message of Jesus Christ, and that Word gave him understanding, preparing his heart to be saved!
Man's greatest need has been the same throughout all history. The world needs a Savior! God's Word still meets that need. Romans 10:17 tells us that, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." The Bible is relevant because it contains in it's pages the message of eternal life.
In verse 16, Paul says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable." Isn't this what we are interested in, something that is profitable and relevant? Even though the Bible comes complete from our past, it is a Word for today, ...for the present. The word "profitable" means useful or relevant. God's Word, the Bible is profitable, especially in these pathetic times we are living in! How is the Bible useful or relevant?
The Word of God is profitable because it is inspired. Verse 16a says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God." The word "inspired" means God breathed. The Bible came from God, through the men who wrote it. II Peter 1:21 "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." These are not man's thoughts and words, these are God's thoughts and words! Here is the breath of God! It is alive!
The Word today is still alive! It is accompanied by the comforting, convicting, convincing presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is relevant because it is a living book for a living world.
The Word of God is profitable, because it is life changing! Paul goes on to detail just how the Bible can move us from being pathetic world-lings, to powerful people who can influence our world! How?
Doctrine. Verse 16a says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine." The word "doctrine" means teaching. It speaks of absolute, dogmatic truth. The Bible is a treasure chest of unsearchable riches, truths to treasure, truths that transform. The great doctrines or truths of the Bible, are the foundation of our faith.
Reproof. Paul continues in verse 16, "...for reproof." The word "reproof" means conviction of error. The Bible is a mirror that reveals the blemish in our lives, the error of our way, the sin in our lives.
Correction. Paul continues, "...for correction." The word "correction" means to set right, to restore to a right state. The Bible is a healing balm, offering medicine for the soul. It helps us to heal and learn from our mistakes.
Instruction in righteousness. Verse 16 concludes, "...for instruction in righteousness." The word "instruction" speaks of discipline. It involves training and education. "Righteousness" speaks of that which is right, correct, holy, wholesome and acceptable, in the sight of God! The Bible is the voice of wisdom, the voice of a teacher, a father or mother, shining a light, pointing the way. The Scriptures furnish the commandments and principles, for your best life now, to coin a phrase!
It's interesting to compare this order with that of the epistles or New Testament letters. For "doctrine," we could read the book or letter to the Romans, telling us that a man is not justified before God by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. For "reproof," we could read I and II Corinthians, telling us to keep the Passover by purging the leaven of sin from our lives. For "correction," we could read Galatians, helping us to return to the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. For "instruction in righteousness," we could read Ephesians to Colossians, instructing us to "put off" the old man, and "put on" the Lord Jesus Christ!
As we give ourselves to the study of God's Word, it will transform our lives! The Word of God is not an outdated book. It is relevant for today's world.
In verse 17, the apostle Paul speaks of the Bible's ability to complete any believer who will give it the proper time and attention. He says, "That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." The word "perfect" in the Greek is artios (ar'-tee-os) and it means complete. The phrase "throughly furnished," is one Greek word, exartizo (ex-ar-tid'-zo) which also means to complete or to finish. The whole idea here is maturity. When we give ourselves to reading, studying, living the Word of God, it grows us up and equips us for productive lives, .....not pathetic lives. Paul says it matures us for "all," or every good work!
God's Word is still profitable for a pathetic world! Today, we need its wisdom and world-view more than ever! Is the Lord soon to return? If so, "who" will He find you? A powerful, mature Christian or a pathetic example of a believer?