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The Antidote for Heresy Every Member of God's House Needs

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Dear Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Hows your memory? Twenty year old going into garage - so much going on in there, several projects, selling a bike, new bike, forgot what I wen tin there for. Sounded like senior moments that begin in our forties. “I’ve got a good memory, it’s just really short?” Paul had just encouraged TImothy that we have somehting worth remembering, and re=telling ,proclaiming, 1:1 That’s the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus. That’s the deposit, the gospel message. Relies on people like you and me and the Chrstian in Ephesus and their leaders like Timothy and their elders - to not only Protect that this sacred fire entrusted to us by the Living i God, but also to practice it, and this last letter - we now get to the how to’s of proclaiming this message. Last two weeks we saw that we need a shot in the arm encouragement and sa strengthening by the grace taht’s in Christ Jesus to do it. But how do we actually fulfil l this task of proclaming? Paul largely teaches by contrast in this section, with postive followed by negative. Negatively we can’t proclaim if we hold heresy, or even truth that does not transform. Positively when we pursue God’s truth unto godliness, when we become fitted to usefully proclaim truth that sets people free!
KEY TRUTH: False teaching is overcome by pursuing ‘truth unto godliness’, not just holding the truth.
Paul’s moves from encouragement of Timothy to instruction in proclaiming for the whole church and TImothy. His first instruction is about the content of what we proclaim. And actually if you are only proclaiming a what in your life - even good moral, wisdom for life - we ultimately proclaim a Person, a living Person. Him we proclaim.
A. Steward the Right Word of Christ and Avoid Religious Babble
The story is told of a student asking Einstein how many feet there are in a mile. He was surprised to here Einstein say I really don’t know, I don’t keep facts I can find in a book in my memeory cluttering the place where I need to think and have creativity flowing. Why GTD time specialist say, lists free the mind. But in our day and age, google has almost taken over the faculty of memory. But not so in oral, cultutres, and indeed all cutlures up until the invention of the prinnting press. In Timothy’s day, Seneca - repeat speeches heard years before,. His 200 memeber classes each student brings a line of poetry. Listen to them all, and then repeat them back to the class, word for word, in reverse order! Ancients thought of memory as important and separate faculty as will, heart, mind. Hebrew culture relied on memomy. Paul had just said remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspirng of David. vv.12-13 The Last Trustworthy saying, memorize. HOmer’s Odessy Illiad, remmbered. Well, what facts do you keep in your memory.
Paul illustrates with his first contrast. There are crooked words, and their are straight words. Heresy, Hetrodoxy, and there is the Wrod of Truth, Orthodoxy. and Paul says, TImtohy if you are going to be a proclaimer, get over your spireit of timidity - you must command people to keep and remember - and you yourself must master and stweard the word of truth. But pay attention to the contrast: what’s the bigger problem with false teaching, it is not just that it is false. Look at 2 Timothy 2:14
2 Timothy 2:14 ESV
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
That word good is not the one for beautiful but for useful. And false teaching, while intriguing and suitable for debate, and speculation, ruins its hearers. Look closer at the problem of teaching that is not the word of truth: 2 Tim 2:16
2 Timothy 2:16 ESV
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,
There is the heart of the contrast. If you are proclaiming just a what and not a who. The false teaching isn’t just going to sit still in people’s lives. Teaching advances. You are living by one taching or another, and false teaching advances in ungodliness - t o God to how you treat other people. That’s the problem and that’s the contrast.
Paul is not afraid of arguming for the truth, but he will not quarrel about words - word fights that loose sight of the person and goal of Jesus Christ. Church’s are wrecked, and peoples lives led astray by dealing witht e truth like that.
Instead how is it that you are not only to actually remember but handle this word of truth - which brings the influence and prsence of the iving Christ to us? Here is the postive: 2 Timothy 2:15
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
It’s a Hebrew mindset of following path, clearing trees, plowing straight furrow - Paul says proclamation of truth must happen so - we have a word that is not irreverent - but actually results in people dealking with the living God, people using these truths to lead them down the path - of godliness, service and love to and kreally knoding God, and service and love and really kwoing people around us.
LXX of Prov 3:6 and 11:5. In the LXX passage it means “ ‘cut a path in a straight direction’ or ‘cut a road across country (that is forested or otherwise difficult to pass through) in a straight direction’, so that the traveler may go directly to his destination.” That’s what we are to be doing with the word of God, it has been spoken to us from God - to clear a path! And that path is created as the Word of Truth is heard, understood, and applied, put into practice. Do you hold these words dear, do you handle them to cut a path. Do these words come to the forefront of your mind and life?
Just like Einstein had to decide what will I let occupy my mindspace, so too the comand here is to avoid - false teaching - Don’t even engage in it. Like Proverbs don’t answer a fool accordin got his folly.
What is the false teaching, Paul gets specific in Ephesus. Some were saying, reusrrection - not comoing in the future, really just a figurative thing, Of course Paul taught wwe are spiritually risen with Christ, but they are denying the endtimes resurrectihon, denying teh physical resurrection. HOw would that chagne the faith of some? Dneial of phyiscial - that’s evil, do whatever we like in the body, already have whaterver spiritual salvation there is, eventually this teaching said, this life is all there is, Christ’s not comoing bakc, world is hnot being renewed! Paul says, teach orthodoxy, right path - leads to godly living, aching for new world, orientation of reusrrection, just first fruits, but labouring for greater harvest!
But the second thing Paul does in terms of how we are proclaim, is undergird the message with the firmest foundation and most heightened responsibility!
B. Bolt Your Faith to the Firm Foundation of God’s Providence & Human Responsibility
False teachers breed uncertainty. v.18 they swerve from the truth. Have you ever experienced swerving - ie mountain in Yellowstone, 9am … nerving, pulled over shaking. 2 Timothy 2:18
2 Timothy 2:18 ESV
who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
The word in v.18 upsetting is catastrophe = actually a word picture in that word - strophe is stand, it means to edify. And catstrophe is the opposite. quarreling, quibbling, wrangling over words, seizing on texts without due attention to their proper context, engaging in polemics, reveling in novel interpretations and disputed points of teaching. Whatever these people were doing, it is clear what they were not doing, namely, cherishing and promoting the “wholesome teaching” (1:13) and the Scriptures (3:10–17).- not loving the LORD and His people = missingie. Divinci Code, Gospel of Judas… false history , better to present wholesome teaching of same time! How did we get the NT canon etc.
That kind of quarrelling is COUGHING and HACKING = spread’s contagion! All the fads come and go … read so many “popular books” - just trendy not solid ; Fascinating speculations and passing philosophies but little enduring truth to really build your life and eternity on. Little of the vision of shalom, peace, wholeness - justice, happiness that endures. Such teaching leaves a person wavering and flailing.
Real gospel proclamation from a church , Christians, from leaders like Timothy requires the most solid foundation.. Already referred to eternal glory, and 2 Tim 1:9
2 Timothy 1:9 ESV
who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
That gives us solidity in our own person; but for our message - there is one foundation stone and unlike a cata-strophe This stone stands - as unmoving solid foundation - Written on it are two inscriptions - seal = ownership, protection, and ____________. 2 Timothy 2:19
2 Timothy 2:19 ESV
But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Two inscriptions like flip-sides of the coin - only go together, and imply each other. - God’s sovereignty , God’s choice of you, knowing… and inverse is human responsibility. So there is this faith in Sovereign God; and there is human responsibility. We ought to know that we are known and predestined and saved, Isaiah 28:16
Isaiah 28:16 ESV
therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
but also called to a what calling? Understand most basic part of God’s will you need to know for your life isn’t - who marry which job, ; but holiness. It is not just a holiness imputed to you in justification, but one imparted more and more as you walk in practice with the Holy Spirit in your sanctification. Those last words are from Numbers 16 rebellion of Korah and false teachers who were trying influence Israel as a whole to dispense of Moses as the only Mediator, Aaron as the only high priest. Just push away what God revealed and make a more politically correct religion of our making - nice spirituality. Numbers 16:5 But how does God respond?
Numbers 16:5d ESV
and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the Lord will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him.
To the church in the wilderness in Moses day and the church in false teaching and persecution and suffering in Paul’s day, the message is the same - God’s people are a mixed multitude, some believers , some not yet, and some never. But we must come out and live in community with those God is bringin near to live with him. Holiness isn’t a mere optional, it’s part of what He has elected and called us to. It’s part of how the service of the gospel goes forward in the world!
Listen - the heresy advances you in wickedness, one step at a time, pulled out of the hard narrow, but right way. Are you advancing in holiness? necessary for foundation of proclamation. Somehting in naming the name of Lord, - prayer. And then the result is you will apostacisize.... surprised - terrible word that Jesus uses, but in your life and mine there must be a quitting/departing from inequity - when’s the last time you quit an iniquity - hate, sinful anger, lust, lack of self control - May involve quitting company not of unbelievers - we are to be salt and light there, but of hypocrites who have no problem living without growth in holiness yet claim to be believers. Paul says God’s foundation ston seals us with the dual reality of God’s knowing and predestining us, with our response of true repentance.
C. Don’t just know the truth, become a vessels carries that truth for the Lord to others!
Paul extends the comparison of the foundation now into a house! Like 1 Cor 3. He is saying, Christ or God is the foundation, and upon that foundation is built this community the church. God builds with various materials … gold silver, wood. One of the most common things in any household are containers.
What kind of containers do you have in your house, got Tupperware, got gas cans, 5 gallons pales - got crystal glass, porcelain vases. Vessel covers it all. Used very specifically of the containers used for holiness in the tabernacle and rituals of the OT Jews. Its used of musical instruments, clothing and and weapons, as tools used for a purpose greater than themselves. The OT and Paul uses it to refer to our whole bodies and even organs used for reproduction. So vessels are instruments for conveying life to a greater purpose.
This is the word that Paul in Romans 9 uses for how God as a potter forms and raises His chosen ones up for noble use in this world! Here the issue is less what quality of material are you, but what use is the vessel of your life being used for, noble or ignoble. We become God’s vessels for showing mercy!
That’s the point of Paul’s comparison also here in 2 Timothy 2:21
2 Timothy 2:21 ESV
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
No matter what quality of material you are, no matter how many talents or how few talents - what is the vessel of your life being used for Though Christians are those who have been cleansed entirely from the legal guilt of their sin, they are people who must continually cleanse themselves from the pollution, corruption, and influence of sin in daily life. And here it is not just little pet sins you may be feeding. But Paul says we need to separate ourselves from but the error - false teaching that leads you to live for what is dishonourable.
Think about that for a moment. If we immerse ourselves in the thinking of the world without Christ, if our idea of what is cool, funny, right, is governed more by sitcoms liek the Office, the Simpsons, the Crown, the movies. If we weigh and value everything only by the bottom line and how much money we have. More than by God’s word of truth, by His wisdom by the gospel realities Christ secured. - it only follows that our behviour will follow that thinking.
Proclaiming the truth means that no matter our past, no matter our present struggles with sin, we believe the transforming power of Christ - and let him turn us and our lives to his honouralbe use, in this world and especially in the house he is building in this world the church. Do you see that at the end of v.21 you and I are to think of our lives each day, as if Christ has something useful to do for Him for others. There is to be like solider, athlete a farmer a self-controlled disciplined readiness. They are ready to go in what matters most for God’s kingdom. For the Christians, there is to be a readiness to roll, when it comes to every good work - they see the Lord putting them to use in.
I love this about new Christians, about those who have re-committed their life to Him - such an understanding that Jesus is alive and as Lord and Savior of the World he will use them and their big and small acts of service. Now you might be ashamed of the gospel, if you are not living it. If it is just a doctrine that says to the world - believe this or got to hell, here is a correct set of propositions - think like me and you will be saved. But Paul says what we need is people who in embracing the gospel, the living Christ and all he has done, who become transformed, vessels and instruments of the LORD. And as their lives embody the message they believe, they won’t be ashamed to proclaim the truth that so clearly transforms them and works so much good in and around them. Ought to be seasons through out our lives when we recommit ourselves as servants of the LORD in our particular setting.
So Paul’s point to Timothy and the Ephesian Christians is that we are vessels - and ask yourself what use are you devoting yourself to?
And that brings us to the last way we must combat false teaching. And Paul illustrates this by contrasting what a heretic and what a proclaimer flees and pursues in life.
D. Develop a flee/pursue plan for your life.
Gospel proclamation isn’t going to happen through vessels who know the truth but don’t embody it. But how do you embody the truth and become a vessel like that .. That is the last set of commands, illustrated by contrasts between heretics and gospel proclaimers.
DO you know what the difference between courage and fool-hardy ? brave is strong in the face of fear; courageous while foolhardy is marked by unthinking recklessness with disregard for danger; bold but rash; hotheaded. Are you spiritually reckless or spiritually brave? Paul says it is going to take spiritual bravery for you and I to become proclaimers.
Timothy was no spring chicken, he was probably in his 40s, but the ancient culture only really divided adults between aged and young. And what is it that marks the age of youth? We think we are invincible - in proverbs a youth is not a fool, but someone who is still simple because they have not yet become established through experience and observation in the ways of the world and the ways of the LORD. They are yet inexperienced, untrained. And Paul says this shows up especially in two ares. Fool hardiness shows up in regard to strong youthful passions and it shows up in an argumentative quarrelsome approach to conflict. The problem in like said Lewis is not that God finds our passions to strong but to weak. The HOly Spirit gives us the deepest passion for what is right. But youthful desires, not necessarily in terms of sexual desire that gets perverted by selfishness into lust, but lusts for anything - inordinate desire for more, money, possessions, for status and acceptance. And Paul is saying, that even 40 year Old Timothy in the prime of life can get hijacked by desires within him that go awry. 2 Timothy 2:22a
2 Timothy 2:22a ESV
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
And so he uses a battle field term - flee - a foolhardy brash youth inexperienced - rushing into minefields is not courageous but stupid. An aged experienced saint, walking through those minefield wary and tenderly stepping having a map with these plotted out is a different story.
How many sad stories from every congregation could be told about those who though they could play with fire and not get burned - they start pursuing intimacy outside beyond of marriage, they escape to the bottle or drugs, habits of recreation that are not avocations on the side, but become their main passion in life. Do you know what God is calling you to flee in terms of sinful passions, and will we move from be inexperienced unobservant, to experienced pilgrims who walk with wisdom?
Well Paul says in the area of passions, you do that not just by saying, stop it, to yourself and trying really hard, But at the same time of fleeing these things in your life, you’ve got to start pursuing others things in a different direction. You see it 2 Timothy 2:22b
2 Timothy 2:22b ESV
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
How can you tell if someone is pursuing faith? Devote time, a hunger to know and experience new reality. Like Luke Skywalker on that abandoned planet, all by himself with Yoda figuring it out. Do you spend time like that in devotion? Do you hunger for God’s Word - regardless of how good or bad the preacher is - are you receiving it preached and applied by the Holy Spirit? Are you pushing on to know levels of trust in doing what God says - feeling sorrow and joy and rest and concern the way the Word calls to our emotions and Jesus models it?
How would you know if you are pursuing love - practical rudder of our lives - steering towards people around us - self-giving acts that mirror God’s grace? But its it the last one that I feel will help you so much in fleeing sinful passions and brings so much encouragement in your life to embody and proclaim the gospel. 2 Timothy 2:22c
2 Timothy 2:22c ESV
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
I don’t think this primary talking about inner peace, but peace whit other people. God’s designed the Christian life so that you do it as a group project. You want to wallow in sin, cut yourself off from others - sin grows in isolation. But you want to grow in faith and love, pursue peace develop friends in your life who are calling on the name and are being purified along with you! Do you have a plan to pursue these things with others here… Sabbath day… prayer partner, seek a time of accountability, sharing, part of Bible study, small group?
And this transfers over into how you walk when controversy or conflict breaks out in this community. Here you must understand a key proverb: Don't answer a fool according got his folly lest you be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly lest he be wise in his own eyes. There is a time not to engage in a foolish argument with one who won’t listen, pearls before swine as the Lord said. Of one wearing a mask on purpose to deceive people into thinking living Christian life while pursuing life and teaching in another direction. As they go on and on about their discoveries that have nothing to do with the gospel, Paul says, don’t even engage in such senseless words. Buthtat’s not a nasty snobby approach.
Look what he says about our inner attitude even with these false teachers and especially of those being influenced by them. 2 Timothy 2:24
2 Timothy 2:24 ESV
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
He is alluding to the servant of the Lord in Isaiah who rescued by suffering, who didn’t raise his voice in the streets, who a tongue not to criticize and judge in mean spirited destruction, but a tongue of the learned to instruct. He wouldn’t snuff out a smoldering wick, snap bruised reed. He wasn’t weak, but strength under control with love. That’s what meekness gentleness is:
2 Timothy 2:25 ESV
correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
As much as a servant of the Lord must be trained in sound words, there is a training in meekness to engage in these truths with those those who don’t get them yet, those who stray from them. Our part is not to win them, back their is no magic formula or just saying the words so persuasively, or “authentically”. Our duty is to speak the truth in love, our job is faithfulness - confronting and extending surprise of grace. But then the end of the verse is so clear - it is God and God alone who grant true repentance to a person - that will lead them into that way of truth! It is part of your plan to have a prayer list for those who are straying, strayed and never been on the path. And in praying for God’s merciful intervention - do you you pray with your eyes open, seizing opportunities to live in contact with them. so can lovingly speak the gospel hope with them?
ANd that brings us to the conclusion of Paul’s instruction on how to go about being a proclaimer. How to overcome heresy, and he concludes with the immediate goal of the vs. quarrelsome word-fighters. 2 Timothy 2:26
2 Timothy 2:26 ESV
and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
The ultimate goal is that people coming to repentance receive salvation and the word of truth and walk in the way. But the immediate goal, is that they realize the devil has set a snare. That they are stuck in it and don’t even really realize how stuck they are. And they like that prodigal, wasted his life, gives himself a shake, comes to his senses. No longer captured to do Satan’s will which is life away from God, and therefore they away from God. What comfort there is for godly parents and caring friends in this. Repentance is a gift from God, not a product of our efforts. What a hope and earnest prayer life that should inspire!
Q. What would you give to save a soul? God isn’t asking for a dollar figure, nor to sign up for some church program. He is asking that you become a proclaimer - that instead of merely quarreling and speculating on human words - you know this Word, this promise of resurrection life, this Lordship of the greatest king. That you let this word lead you down a path, and embodying that path in your daily life, as a vessel instrument of God, that pursuing righteousness and faith and love and peace with these people - that you dare proclaim Christ to others who don’t know or are turning away.
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