2 Timothy 3.6-9 – Jesus Over All

Those with a focus on self are to be avoided, as Paul wrote, and here we see what they seek to do.

For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

Paul writes that they creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions. What is going on here is that the false teaching, self-centred, difficult people seek to influence the households of those they come across with a constant stream of new and exciting looking teachings (v.7), but these never actually hit the mark. We read that these false teachings never arrive at a knowledge of the truth, because new always seeks new, emotionalism always seeks greater feelings, and passionate self-centred teachers always seek more of themselves.

The spirit of the last days (v.1) was present in Jannes and Jambres (Exodus 7, 8) and it is very much present in our modern world. We don’t need to look very far to see those teaching things that don’t honour God, magnify the Lord Jesus, and align with the mission of the Holy Spirit. Our unshakeable hope, however, comes when we read that they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of [Jannes and Jambres]

The spirit of the last days well and truly meets its match in the person and work of Jesus, and that is where we must look to combat these ear-tickling but not Scripture-expositing teachings. Things may look wild and wonderful, may sound amazing and passionate, but never forget that miracles can be done by those posing as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11.15).

Believer, never forget though that He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world (1 John 4.4), and this is the standard against which we must judge the words of those who wander. Through His Word, His Son, and His Holy Spirit, God has equipped you to battle with and overcome this spirit of the last days.

We read that the people 2 Timothy 3.1-8 will not get very far, but by following Jesus over all, you will.

Life Defined

All I am
my life defined
By I’ve been crucified with Christ
The life I live
I live by faith
In Jesus Christ who lives in me

Identify seems to be something of a hot topic nowadays, doesn’t it? Everyone seems to be choosing who they are and what they want to be, who they want to be, defining themselves.

I heard someone say recently that at the core of this is a rejection of authority. People don’t want to be told that you are made in God’s image, because they reject the authority and actuality of God. 

People don’t want to be told that your life has worth and dignity and value because of the price paid for you at Calvary, because they reject the idea that they need salvation.

But what about those of us who accept the authority of God, how are we defined?

Our Christian worldview will only make fullest sense when it affects and influences all we are, and our lives are defined by the fact that God is real, He made us, He sent His Son to die for us, and through faith in this we are defined.

The Bible uses many terms to define you, such as;

Adopted son/daughter – Galatians 3.26, John 1.12

Heir – Galatians 3.23-29

Believer – 1 Timothy 4.12

Saints – Colossians 1.2

The church – 1 Thessalonians 1.1

The life we now seek to live in one of faith (2 Corinthians 5.7); faith in God, faith in Jesus, faith in the fact He now lives in us through the person of the Holy Spirit, and faith that any definition of ourselves that we can come up with will never be as good as who He says we are. 

Life Defined starts at 12:00 minutes.

Spiritual Depression – Mind, Heart, and Will – Romans 6.17-18/Romans 12.1-2

17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

So far in our mini-series on spiritual depression we have looked at the causes of this all-too-common condition. If you haven’t read any of the previous pieces you can do here.

Today we see that there is a whole life response needed to the truths of Jesus to avoid spiritual depression. We know that the whole counsel of God’s Word is needed to communicate the truths of Jesus, and it stands to reason then that our whole lives must be influenced and affected by it.

Romans 6.17-18 points to the whole person, as does Romans 12.1-2, and we read of obedience, the heart, the standard of teaching, and being slaves of righteousness.

We need balance in our Christian life in order to avoid spiritual depression, and to experience all that God has for us.

If we focus on the mind only, we become brainy and insightful with no desire to serve.

If we focus on the emotion only, we become overly emotional in our faith but lack understanding.

If we focus on the will only, we become fired up to serve, but don’t really connect with those we are serving.

The whole truth of Jesus needs a whole life response – mind, emotion, and will, or head, heart, and hands.

Lloyd-Jones speaks into the balance needed to live the fruitful Christian life, and offers this in response to those to focus on only one element of their person,

These are the people who decide to take up Christianity instead of being taken up by Christianity.

He goes on to call them spiritual monstrosities, and says that if truth is not first understood and internalised then the heart and hands will never work properly, so to speak.

The order suggested is this – head, then heart, then hands.

First we must understand what it is we are responding to. Understand why Jesus shedding His blood for you was such a big deal. Understand the huge change that has taken place within you, and the power that now lives in you.

When this is understood, the heart is softened, and the hands are readied.

Lloyd-Jones writes

Truth is received through God’s greatest gift to man, the mind, the understanding.

Simply then, one big step on the road to avoiding spiritual depression is to order the way God’s truth flows into our lives, first head, then heart, then hands.

Let us commit today to understanding and knowing more about our great God, and having hearts softened and hands readied by this wonderful truth.

1 Timothy 1.3-4 – The Wrong Things

Paul started this letter with grace, mercy, and peace, and now starts in earnest with his instructions for church leading. 

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.

Does Timothy have a desire to leave that Paul must address? – remain at Ephesus. Perhaps he wanted to travel on with his mentor, perhaps the size of the task ahead is so big that it scared him, perhaps he didn’t feel like church leading is a one-man thing (which it isn’t, which is why he is instructed to find men of Godly character to help).

Either way, Paul felt the need to say remain at Ephesus, and he follows that with a reason, so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogiesFocusing on these wrong things leads to time wasted, and us not living the simple life of faith that God wants. 

Teaching things that are wrong, hearing things that are wrong, spending time speculating over things that are wrong doesn’t often start that way. In an attempt to be so very relevant and applicable, wrong teaching can develop from a good starting place. But, it looks too deep, too far, and too wide and ends up twisting the truth.

The simplest truths of the Word of God have the deepest impact on our lives.

The Bible is so simple and so complex at the same time – Jesus came, died, rose, ascended. Simple on one level, profound on another. We don’t need to ever seek to go deeper than this – Jesus came to take away the consequence of your sin.

We don’t need to spend time discussing and debating any more than we actually want to, there is nothing left to establish through reason or conversation. Upon hearing Jesus explain Himself, so to speak, Pilate said “What is truth?” (John 18.38). The truth has already presented itself, the truth of God came to live among us, and the truth of God saves us from ourselves. 

Rather than spend time on endless debates, endless myths, and endless genealogies, let us focus on the right things, all that Jesus said, did, does, will do, and all that Jesus is.

Jude 1.22-23 – Save Others

Earlier in this short passage we focused on have mercy on those who doubt, now let’s look at the rest. 

22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Here Jude continues his instruction as to how we interact with those stuck under the false teaching of vv.8-13. To those who have doubts of the heart we are to have mercy, but some situations require a stronger response. Jude writes save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. The response is different to show mercy, and the response is stronger too. 

The crux of it all is that we should indeed be others-focused. Looking outwardly to others and the direction they are heading shows that we care and shows we are valuing our brothers and sisters in Christ. If people are being taught a different version of Jesus than is orthodox and shown in Scripture, we ought to be stepping in to lovingly correct them (Ephesians 4.14-16). 

I read recently that “Christians should not abandon a friend flirting with false teaching. They should help him through it in love.

So, if people are flirting with false teaching, be that from an individual pastor who teaches ever so slightly away from Scripture to tickle the ears of those who listen, or if an entire church and movement is founded on principles and teachings that are not explicitly demonstrated in the Bible, we should help them see the truth of the Word of God, but always in love. 

In doing so, as Jude writes, we will save others. Not in that we become their Saviour, but we will redirect them to the One who is. 

Point to ponder – Would I know how to lovingly give correction? Am I humble enough to receive correction?

Prayer – Father we thank you for your timeless and true Word to us that we carry in our Bibles, and we thank you that this Word became flesh and lived here among us temporarily to point us to you. Give us a spirit of humility and the right words if we need to be in this situation, and help us to always keep our eyes fixed on the message of your Word, not the words of those who deliver it. Amen. 

3 John 1.13-15 – Truth in Talking

Today 3 John finishes remarkably similarly to 2 John.

13 I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink.

14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

15 Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.

Now here’s 2 John,

12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

13 The children of your elect sister greet you.

Both speak of John having much to write, both tell us of his desire to not write with pen and ink

3 John 1.14 is the perfect ending to this letter about living out the truth of Jesus personally, because personal truth always wants to connect with other personal truth.

So, simply, when we profess and possess the truth of Jesus, this will ALWAYS result in the desire to spend time with others who have professed and possessed.

Preaching through Hebrews we phrased it like this – 

There is no true heart change and decision for Jesus that results in the desire to NOT be with other believers.
Simply, followers desire fellowship.

John then finishes with a familiar blessing in Scripture, for which we have the resources in Jesus. He writes, peace be to you, and again, the truth of Jesus lived out in our lives brings true and lasting peace (John 16.33, John 14.27, Galatians 5.22). 

3 John shows us how the truth of Jesus looks in our individual lives, and this ending shows us how we are to interact and talk to others; face to face, with peace, and as friends.

Point to ponder – Do my interactions look like this?

Prayer – Father, we thank you that despite this letter being short it speaks to us in powerful ways. Help us to live the truth of Jesus both collectively as believers, and individually too. Amen. 

3 John 1.11-12 – Truth in Testimony

After a good example and a bad example, John starts to wrap up his letter about individually living the truth with a testimony.

11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.

Demetrius is given as a good example of one living the truth, he has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. To this, John adds his testimony, which he says is true.

How then do we go about getting a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself? I’d suggest we start with v.11; imitate good and do good.

How do we imitate good?

Look to those in church leadership – Hebrews 13.7

Look to those who serve the most vulnerable – James 1.27

Look to those who care for the smallest of our family – Matthew 18.10

Look to those who put other’s needs above their own – Philippians 2.3

The truth of Jesus professed and possessed will start to change us from the inside out, and will inescapably draw us towards examples of the Godly character John speaks of (vv.5-6, 12).

Over time, we will start to imitate the good we see in others, and eventually become a witness ourselves to the truth that lives in us, all to the greater glory of God.

Point to ponder – who can I imitate today, or who can I witness to today?

Prayer – Father, we thank you for the examples of Godly character that you have put in our lives. Help us to all grow into these very examples, so that the truth of Jesus can be passed on, inherited, and witnessed to everyone we meet. Amen.