Do Not Be Deceived
ILLUSTRATION: There was an Indian, who, whenever he reached a dangerous bog in the swamp, would put up a stake to mark the spot. By this means, he not only guarded his future movements, but furnished a warning to others who might pass that way. This is the benefit one generation derives from another.
If we think of life as the swamp – dangerous, we can hit a bog, get stuck, sink and drown.
We want to guard our movements, and the future as well.
In this passage, we see where a grandmother taught her daughter, who in turn taught her son. Now, he as warned not to be deceived.
Today, I would like to examine two ways in which we will not be deceived, so that we will be wise for salvation in Christ Jesus:
1.) Continue in what you have learned
2.) Being faithful to the Word of God.
Most of the apostle Paul’s writings which have survived to be included in the Scriptures are written to churches, but there are just a few personal letters to individuals, where he focuses to a single person and gives him the benefit of his long experience.
This is the case when he writes to Timothy whom he regards as his son in the faith - and what a warm letter he sent. What an encouragement it must have been to the young man.
When did we last send a letter or speak a word of encouragement to someone starting out in God’s service?
Paul was nearing the end of his life, but before he died, he wanted to make sure that the message that had been revealed to him by the risen Christ would be continued in a new generation.
News came to Paul of heresy in the church, of the entry of erroneous doctrine peddled by false teachers whom the evil one used, perhaps unknowingly to them, to deceive sincere believers in Jesus.
Paul was in a Roman prison, chained to a soldier, so what could he do?
There’s a saying that "the pen is mightier that the sword" - and so it was, especially "the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God".
Paul took up his pen and wrote to his dear, young friend Timothy reminding him of the blessing which was his in coming into God’s family while young in life; how he had learned the truths of Scripture and the responsibility that he now had to carry the message forward.
These verses, although originally meant for Timothy, contain a vital message for us too.
2 Timothy 3:12-15: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Evil men and deceivers are going to get worse and worse. They will deceive more and more – in Timothy’s time, as well as our own.
Why? Because they are being deceived by Satan!
Most Christians are scarcely aware of when they are deceived, and much less do they understand the issues involved.
The seduction is surprisingly easy. It does not take place as an obvious frontal assault from rival religious beliefs. That would be vigorously resisted.
Instead, it comes to some Christians in the guise of faith-producing techniques for gaining spiritual power and experiencing miracles and to others as self-improvement psychologies for fully realizing human potential that are seen as scientific aids to successful Christian living.
Colossians 2:8 reads: "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of the world rather than according to Christ."
Besieged by false teachers and the inevitable pressures of a growing ministry, Timothy could easily have abandoned his faith or modified his doctrine.
But Timothy is not to be led astray by these impostors.
“But as for you” …
The exhortation is to continue in the things Timothy had learned and become convinced of (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-2).
Timothy had been taught the Word of God from the time he was a child.
“From an infant …” It is in the tenderest age that the most lasting impressions of faith may be made.
Paul appeals to Timothy to remain loyal to all the teaching he had received.
Timothy has begun well - he had learned the truth but he still had to persevere, to continue with no compromise.
From his earliest childhood Timothy had known the sacred writings.
On his mother's side Timothy was a Jew, although his father had been a Greek (Ac 16:1); and it is clear that it was his mother – and grandmother - who had brought him up.
Timothy’s grandmother and mother had faithfully taught him the Old Testament Scriptures. (The word “whom” in 2 Timothy 3:14 is plural, referring to these women; see 2 Tim. 1:5.)
Timothy was one of the first second-generation Christians: he became a Christian not because an evangelist preached a powerful sermon, but because his mother and grandmother taught him the Old Testament Scriptures when he was a small child (2Ti 1:5).
We must remember that the scripture of which Paul is writing is the Old Testament; as yet the New Testament had not come into being.
It was the glory of the Jews that their children from their earliest days were trained in the law.
They claimed that their children learned the law even from their swaddling clothes and drank it in with their mother's milk.
They claimed that the law was so imprinted on the heart and mind of a Jewish child that he would sooner forget his own name than he would forget it.
These OT Scriptures imprinted in Timothy’s mind were able to make him "wise" in preparation "for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
They disciplined him in obedience to God and also pointed forward to the coming Messiah, through whom salvation by faith would become available.
They did not merely teach him the facts of the Bible; they gave him assurance and spiritual understanding.
Some people are prone to say, “Well, I needed the Bible when I was younger; but I can do without it now that I’m older.” How wrong they are!
1.) We are to continue in what we have learned!
You can never tell how the thorough learning of Scripture will be used in later life.
ILLUSTRATION: Richard Wurmbrand was a pastor in Romania and was imprisoned and tortured for his faith by the communist authorities. He testified that it was the passages of Scripture that he had memorized as a youth that sustained him in his years of captivity.
Adults need the guidance of the Word far more than children do because adults face more temptations and make more decisions.
Whether you’re a parent or not, teaching children is vitally important!
Most decisions for the Lord come before a child reaches 14 years of age!
Jesus wanted little children to come to him (Matthew 19:13-15).
At home and in church, we should realize that teaching small children is both an opportunity and a responsibility.
Like Timothy's mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois, do your part in leading children to Christ.
Timothy knew for himself the truth of the Word; he did not depend on others to defend the Word for him.
Paul counseled Timothy to look to his past, and to hold to the basic teachings about Jesus that are eternally true.
Therefore, Timothy was to continue in what he had been taught.
Like Timothy, we are surrounded by false teachings.
But we must not allow our society to distort or crowd out God's eternal truth – or to deceive us.
Rather, we must spend time every day reflecting on the foundation of our Christian faith found in God's Word, the great truths that build up your life.
Because satanic seducers are going to continue, what else should the Christian do?
We must continue on in the truth.
2.) We must continue to be faithful to the Word of God
The only antidote against a world of apostasy is the Word of God.
The only answer to defeat Satan’s lies is with God’s truth.
In these last days, there will be more deception and imitation; and the only way a believer will be able to tell the true from the false is by knowing the Word of God.
This Word imparted faith to him (Rom. 10:17), and this faith in Christ brought salvation.
Are you being faithful to the Word of God here at CBS? Are you studying diligently?
Are you taking your studies seriously here at CBS? Are you growing in faith and in the knowledge of the Word?
We never outgrow the Word of God. You will never to “smart enough” in your knowledge of the Bible.
ILLUSTRATION: John Smith was a loyal carpenter, working for a very successful building contractor who called him into his office one day and said, "John, I'm putting you in charge of the next house we build. I want you to order all the materials and oversee the whole job from the ground up."
John accepted the assignment with great enthusiasm and excitement. For ten days before ground was broken at the building site, John studied the blueprints. He checked every measurement, every specification. Suddenly he had a thought. "If I am really in charge," he said to himself, "why couldn't I cut a few corners, use less expensive materials, and put the extra money in my pocket? Who would know the difference? Once the house is painted, it will look just great."
So John set about his scheme. He ordered second-grade lumber, but his reports indicated that it was top-grade. He ordered inexpensive concrete for the foundation, put in cheap wiring, and cut every corner he could, yet he reported the purchase of much better materials. When the home was completed and fully painted, he asked the contractor to come and see it.
"John," said the contractor, "what a magnificent job you have done! You have been such a good and faithful carpenter all these years that I have decided to show my gratitude by giving you this house you have built, as a gift!"
Don’t cut corners! Give it you best! Work hard! In the end, it will be you who will be blessed. If you only give a half effort, it is you who will be hurt the most.
Timothy has learned and been convinced from two sources – of equal importance: his own testimony of the Holy Spirit’s work in his life, and the Holy Scriptures, which at that time of course consisted of the Old Testament.
Timothy’s complete confidence in both sources would be enough to prevent any slippage in his commitment to the truth.
"Which are able to make thee wise unto salvation." What kind of salvation is he talking about?
Again these verses seem to imply that Timothy’s salvation occurred prior to his acquaintance with Paul (cf. 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2, 5; Acts 16:1).
After all, Timothy was already saved.
Well, salvation occurs in three tenses.
There is the past tense: I have been saved from sin.
The present tense is: I am being saved from sin.
The third tense is future: I shall be saved from sin.
Let me elaborate. In the past tense, we have been saved. Christ bore a judgment death for us.
When we believe on Him, we pass from death to life, and we are no longer under condemnation -- "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus . . ." (Rom. 8:1).
We are also being saved. He is working out a salvation in us, and we won't even have that perfected in this life.
But as we look into the future we know a day is coming when ". . . it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him . . ." (1John 3:2).
Paul is saying that the Scriptures not only give us the modus operandi of being saved (that is, passing from death to life and having eternal life and becoming a child of God), but save us in this present evil world -- enable us to grow and give us deliverance down here.
Constant study of the Word of God is the only help that any of us has.
Faithfulness to God’s Word is able to make us "wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
It also makes us wise in knowing how to live down here.
The Scriptures bring salvation only when one places his faith in Christ Jesus.
The use of the Scriptures was not magic, but of value when used "through faith that is in Christ Jesus."