Faithful to Guard
2 Timothy 2
Ministry involves warfare.
It is an unrelenting battle.
Jesus told us the world would hate us because it hated him.
Paul tells us all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Evil people and imposters will go from bad to worse.
If you want to be a church leader, you must be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it.
Paul has clearly spoken to Timothy multiple times not to tolerate false teaching.
Guard the church and guard your own heart and mind and passions.
Keep a close watch on yourself and the teaching.
Flee youthful passions.
Flee both lust and the fleshly desire to argue about everything.
2 Timothy 2:14-ff
A rebuke and corrective to those of us who like to be contentious.
Verse 24, Be kind to everyone
Earlier in the chapter, Paul uses three metaphors.
Soldier, athlete, and farmer
We as ministers are not lords over the flock, nor warlords and always attacking.
We should desire Christlike gentleness.
A hymn introduces our section.
If we endure, we will reign.
If we deny him, he will deny us.
2 Timothy 2:14-26
Here is Paul’s own commentary on 1 Timothy 4:16, keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.
How can we guard ourselves and the teaching?
Be an approved workman
Be a sanctified vessel.
Be a humble slave.
- Be an approved workman – Guard your own teaching
The early church had false teachers all over the place early on.
Paul, John, and Peter all address significant doctrinal errors.
Even Christ’s letters to the church in Revelation 2 and 3 point to the damage done by false teachers.
False teaching from within the church is a far greater threat than all the combined persecution of the church from outside.
Verse 17, Paul names two examples of dangerous, false teachers.
1 Tim 1:20, The two mentioned are selling a preterist view of NT eschatology.
They might have denied literal resurrection.
Johnson makes some strong comments on preterism and preterists.
Paul refutes their false doctrine in 1 Corinthians 15.
True believers believe in a literal resurrection to come.
Here Paul just tells Timothy not to waste his time quarreling with these guys.
No, he is not telling Timothy to ignore it.
He is telling Timothy that this bad doctrine does not deserve to be treated with scholarly gravitas.
Timothy is not to engage these foolish men in a prolonged debate.
There is no reason to get into a protracted argument with someone who has clearly already refused biblical correction.
Arguing with these guys at length might serve no other purpose but to broaden their audience.
What do we do, then?
Do your best to present yourself faithful, rightly handling the word of truth.
Accurately handling, make a straight cut.
Devote yourself to the diligent study of the word of God.
You will accomplish much more by teaching faithful truth.
Instruction is a better way of dealing with error than with taunting and insults.
Paul was not discouraging Timothy from refuting false teachers.
HE was telling us that how one refutes false teaching is important.
Paul’s rebukes were tempered with patience and teaching.
Paul was, occasionally, sharp.
Sometimes he used biting sarcasm.
But that is an exception, not his normal tone.
How could Paul be so gracious and patient?
Paul had a trust in the sovereignty of god.
See verse 20.
The Lord knows those who are his.
If we stand for the truth, God will humble the rebels.
The real challenge for us is to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.
Paul did not share the combative temperament of discernment podcasters and bloggers today.
Elders must not be pugnacious.
That is the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.
Guard the truth, but start by guarding your own teaching, including the tone and temperament of what you teach.
- Be a sanctified vessel
There are honorable and dishonorable vessels.
Jeremiah 18, God is the great Potter.
Isaiah 29:16; Lamentations 4:2
Notice, earthen pots that are worth their weight in gold.
2 Corinthians 4:7, treasure in jars of clay
Verse 21, Depart from iniquity and cleanse yourself.
Verse 22, Flee what is unholy and follow what is holy.
Guard against lust.
But guard against all sorts of sinful self-gratification.
Proud, youthful arrogance also wages war against the soul.
14-19, be an approved workman by guarding your teaching.
20-22 Be a sanctified vessel by guarding your heart.
- Be a humble slave by guarding your attitude.
Verses 23-26, Be a humble servant.
We are not the CEO of the church.
We are shepherds and teachers.
We lead, but never lord it over those in our charge.
We are to be last of all and slave of all.
Paul did not play the discernment blogger role.
He did not go out to chase down everybody else.
Notice that Jesus was never unkind or abusive.
Jesus did not grab Saul with unkind words of condemnation.
Jesus was tender with Paul.
Paul had been ruthless before his conversion.
His attitude was very different afterward.
Yes, his rebukes were occasionally sharp.
But that was not his only tone.
Sometimes, even in the face of gross evil, a sharp rebuke can be inappropriate.
Paul apologized for a sharp rebuke of the high priest in Acts.
Verse 24, Be kind, patiently enduring evil.
Foolish, ignorant controversies only breed quarrels.
Not every controversy is foolish.
Sometimes controversies, even over important issues, can become foolish and ignorant.
Paul is telling Timothy not to engage an unteachable teacher.
Timothy needs to know not to give these guys a platform.
Paul does not want us to seek strife.
Paul would engage the teachable happily.
But Paul will not engage the hardened who only want to do harm.
The brutal arrogance that we see inn on-line discussion forums is contrary to faithful gospel teaching.
Gentle correction is good.
Being patient is part of the role of an elder.
Our goal is not to condemn people, but to deliver them from the strongholds of error.
If you want to be a guardian of the truth, but you consistently throw scorn on the message of this text, you sacrifice a significant amount of credibility in everything else you say.
Put away bitterness, wrath, clamor, slander, anger, etc.
Be an approved workman.
Be a sanctified vessel.
Be a humble slave.
Guard your heart, your attitude, your tone.
Hold fast to the faithful word as you have been taught.