Tag Archives: Christian witness

From Such Turn Away

2 Timothy 3:1-5 King James Version

3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

This is quite a list of people to turn away from.  The admonishment is not that we should not witness to these people groups mentioned here.  We MUST witness to them, but in the loving, gentle, patient way that we talked about in our last lesson.  The people on this list are certainly opposing themselves, and must learn to restore themselves to the place where God can guide their path.  They have lost their way and will have a hard time coming back if we are not apt to help them along.  The types of people mentioned here are indeed the hardest of all to witness to as well.  Most are so full of themselves there is no room for anyone else, especially God.  But if we can help to get just a little bit of themselves put to the side, there is where our opportunity is to chare the gospel with them.  We must watch for these moments carefully and take advantage when we see them arise.

The condition of these men is the reason perilous times have come.  When more and more people start to act on the manners described here our society starts to break down.  People will not care as much about others.  The neighborly manner in which we treat each other will slowly vanish.  Responsibility for one’s actions will disappear and accountability will vanish.  As a result, people will think they can do whatever they want with impunity.  If they are called out for their immoral behavior, the one who is on the right side will be called wring and will face persecution.  Right will become wrong and wrong will become right.  The biblical morality we once lived by will be replaced by an ever-changing worldly morality that will cater to the whim of those who have given into the lusts of the world. 

Can anyone truly deny that we are currently seeing this happen today more than just 10 years ago?  I can give a hundred examples of this but I will stick with a few.  We see school shootings and mass shootings going up all the time. Instead of centering on the critical problem that is driving these shootings, we say it’s the fault of the gun that person is handling.  Instead of doing a better job tracking and tacking care of those with mentality issues. We let them loose on a society that has little protection from them.  Instead of defending our schools in practical ways we simply lock the doors, making it even worse if a shooter does get in somehow.  The shooter is rarely held accountable as they should be.  They get a prison cell where they are catered to and the taxpayer pays for their life to the tune of $50,000 a year.  There they can finally get the help they need, but they rarely do.  Here we see these attributes form the list above: disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, fierce, despisers of those that are good.

The second example I will site is the prevalence of the gender identity discussion.  We are adding genders all the time instead of just looking at a person and knowing what sex they are biologically.  I hear on Facebook you can now choose from 56 different genders when choosing a sexual identity.  We wonder why our children are confused?  In our schools, it is taught that it does not matter if you identify as any of these genders.  All should be accepted for who they are and what they are.  In many states it is against the law to council those that are claiming such status as is against their biological identity.  You have to let them do whatever they want to do.  I cannot imagine what our society will look like when the next generation takes over.  It will be sexual nirvana for those who are raised in it, but total sexual chaos for everyone else.  In the list above, we see lovers of their own selves, covetousness, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, without natural affection and blasphemers in this group.

This is only the beginning of what we are seeing today.  Our society is falling farther short of the glory of God every day and people are caring less and less about it.  In fact, our minds are being numbed to what God wants as our ability to express disgust with these things is challenged more and more by what is becoming the mainstream.  Godly ways are called wrong, worldly passions are indulged in and no one seems to care.  It is harder and harder to find someone that will stand up for what is right and decent.  Harder and harder to speak the truth.  Harder and harder to witness to those whose hearts are gone so far away.

We must turn away from hanging around with such people all the time because we might get pulled into their own ditches and mistruths.  We might find ourselves sympathizing with them.  We must turn away from all these practices, which I am not going to try and explain one by one.  We must turn away from close friendships that might entangle us.  But we cannot turn away from doing everything we can to get them to trust us sop that we might bring the truth to them.  And we must present that truth in the method that Paul explains at the end of the previous chapter: with gentleness, patience and meekness.  We must slowly instruct them in the ways of a God who loves them just as much as He loves us.  God’s desire is to have them turn from their ungodly ways, to stop opposing themselves and to come back to Him.  Can we be such witnesses for the Lord?  They may all look on the outside like they are godly but they do not know God’s power to save.  Many would love to be saved from their ways, but they deny there is a power that can do that.  We must show them the power of God unto salvation that is Jesus Christ.  They need that power to touch their lives, and we can be the instrument of God to make that happen.  Let us not leave them to the devil’s whims.  Let us shine our light so brightly that they will be drawn to us!

Instruct Those that Oppose Themselves

2 Timothy 2:24-26 King James Version

 

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

 

What an interesting thought.  People that oppose themselves!  They are their own worst enemy.  Have you ever heard someone say that?  “I am my own worst enemy.”  I have – it was me.  Oh, I was having a good time.  Drinking all through the night, smoking pot, hanging with friends, enjoying good food and good times on a regular basis.  I was making good money and travelling where I wanted, when I wanted. I worked as a computer programmer back in the big computer era in the early 70’s, before PC’s even started to be thought of.  I was doing well.  I lacked nothing that I wanted.

 

But I was drowning.  Drowning in a sea of despair.  When I was alone, I was really alone.  I knew I needed more but I had no idea what that more was.  I was raised in the church, but had put it behind me and taken on the life of an agnostic.  I knew there was some power out there, but had no idea who it was.  I thought I was headed to heaven, but I was bound for hell and I didn’t even know what that meant.  We made jokes about partying in hell, not knowing what really awaited us there.  I was indeed my own worst enemy.  I opposed myself at every turn.  Thinking I was making the right turns when all the time I was going left.  I was lost!

 

I am so thankful for the men and women who slowly led me to the right place.  They took on the attributes mentioned here.  Gentle, patient teachers who were humble and approached me with meekness.  They instructed me about Jesus, about His love, about His mercy, about His sacrifice.  Over time I learned how to walk with the Lord and stop doing things that would oppose the spirit within me.  There are still times that the old man rises up again and tries to oppose me, but I have an adversary now.  I have one who will come alongside and help me through any situation I may get into.  He keeps me from opposing myself.

 

Now it is my turn to help those who oppose themselves, to pass on the blessing that has been given to me.  But I must do it the right way.  I cannot force Christ on them.  I cannot force them to conform to my idea of what serving Jesus means.  I must not strive with the, argue with them, manipulate them or be angry with them.  Paul gives us a great formula here for winning the lost to Christ.  First, we must be gentle.  Our words and our actions must be alluring so that they want to hear what we have to say.  We should not come from a position of power, but of meekness.  We must be patient with them as they try to find their way out of their own way.  Too often we get stuffed up in our pride and think they should come to maturity sooner.  We forget that they have been opposing themselves for a long time.  Transformation of the mind does not happen overnight!  It can take years to come out of the bondage and chaos that a troubled mind can leave.  Believe Me, I know.  But God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can think or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20).  We have a mandate to tell people about this amazing God we serve.  He is the one who sets the captive free!  Those who are in opposition to themselves will find the greatest advocate of all time when we introduce them to Jesus.

 

The truth is that those who oppose themselves are in the enemy’s clutches.  He has them right where he wants them, and has no desire tom let them go.  It is our responsibility to help them find themselves, to recover themselves, and become the person God designed them to be, not the one the enemy has tricked them into.  I was tricked by the enemy into a lifestyle of drugs, booze and sex.  The riches of this world trapped me into believing I was fulfilling the plan for my life.  But I was not even close to it.  I was in such opposition to the plan God had for me that I would not even begin to see His plan.  God’s plan was for me to be His witness, my plan was to be isolated and alone.  God’s plan was to have me minister the word; my plan was to hurt people with my words.   God’s plan was for me to sing the songs he gave me, my plan was to sing in silence.  God’s plan was there all the time but I did not see it.  I had to recover myself before I could see it.  The real me that God had created needed to be turned into the clay so the potter could mold it.  I was in the enemy’s hands.

 

I was so glad when God finally urged me into His plan.  There is so much more peace here.  So much more joy and so much more love.  There is little to fear and so much to be thankful for.  There is little doubt about who God wants me to be and a lot of faith that I can become that person.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still oppose myself at times.  There are still times that I do not walk where I should walk.  There are times the snare of the enemy tries to capture me once again.  But I have been set free and am no longer bound by it.  When the snare catches me, God quickly opens it and I escape.  That’s how much He loves me, and He loves you too!

 

How about you?  Are you opposing yourself today?  Are you living a life that is not in line with what God wants for you?  I ask you to come out of that place.  Come meet the Savior, Jesus Christ.  He can help you recover the real you and walk with God once again.  Just trust Him!

 

Purchase a Good Degree

1 Timothy 3:11-13

11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus

Paul now turns his attention to the deacon’s family. As with the bishop, a deacon must have his family affairs in order. I find it interesting he addresses some traits the wife must have and really never does that with the bishop. Personally, I would want the bishop to have a wife that fits these characteristics as well.

First the wives must be grave. We see this attribute with their husbands as well. They should be serious about things and not given to flighty, useless chatter. You’ve seen the type. Women that go on and on about virtually nothing important. They seem to not be able to stop talking, but fill their mouth with words that will not affect anything. Men do it to, so don’t get me wrong. A deacon and his wife should be people that we can go to and expect an honest, heartfelt comment about any subject we might bring up. Especially when it is a subject of the heart and spirit, something that we are struggling with. They would not make light of it or joke around about it but give it their utmost attention. This is being grave.

They are not slanderers. They do not gossip or backbite other people. Their speech is kind and useful, edifying others with their words on a regular basis. This is a characteristic we all should possess. Gossip and backbiting do no one any good. They are both malicious and destructive. Paul tells us that our speech should minister grace to the person hearing our words (Ephesians 4:29) and too often we do just the opposite. Imagine how the church would be blessed if we would all out aside our petty gossip and complaints! People would flock to us like metal does to a magnet.

The deacons should be husbands to one wife. We discussed this in the previous post on the qualifications of a bishop. This does not necessarily mean he has only been married once, although that is preferred. It talks of the necessity of faithfulness in all things, which is mentioned before this. A deacon must be faithful in his giving, in his attendance, in his service and to his family and job. This is a lost art in today’s world. There is little faithfulness and even less loyalty, which is a product of faithfulness. People bounce from one relationship to the next, from one job to another and from church to church. They have forgotten the concept of being faithful.

But not the deacon! He is faithful in all things. This includes his family. He is faithful to his wife and his children. He does not fail to provide, protect, honor and serve all of them on a daily basis. He can be counted on in good times and bad to keep his composure and not get out of sorts. He is faithful to God, and God is faithful to him, seeing him through every trial and every test. There is never a doubt who he serves and who he loves.

A person who executes the office of deacon well takes a position of high regard from others. This is another way of saying the first part of verse 13. God honors their execution of the office of deacon. He is pleased that they have taken care of their church and themselves well and thus he gives them honor in their circle of influence. Everyone looks up to him as an honorable person. This is what a earning a good degree means.

Paul says the deacon also has great boldness in the faith. Remember, he is not a novice. He has studied the word and used it to make wise decisions. There are not many places in the Bible that tell us we should be bold. Most of the time we should be meek and humble, but Paul says the deacon is bold in the faith. He is able to defend the gospel when someone comes against the truth. He can stand firm in his decisions, like a tree planted by the water that is not moved. This makes him a valuable asset on any church board, and even more valuable in establishing the churches in Paul’s day.

We would all do well to try and emulate the characteristics of a bishop or a deacon. While these criteria are still used today to choose people for church leadership, most of the things listed are traits we should all possess as Christians. If we do, then when the need comes for someone in our church to rise to leadership, we will be ready to fill the role. And we can carry these things to the world as part of our Christian witness. Doing this will certainly purchase us a good degree!