Lucia's Blog: APPROVED BY GOD
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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

APPROVED BY GOD

“Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.” 
2 Timothy 2:15


A “gold brick” is a term for a brick painted to look like gold, which serves as a metaphor for a person who appears to be of great virtue but is really useless. Many evangelists are “gold bricks.” The apostle Paul calls on the evangelist Timothy to be different from the rest.

I am enjoying my study of 2 Timothy.  Indeed, God’s Word is sufficient to train us in righteousness so that we may be complete and equipped for every good work.  However, God wants us to be diligent in studying His Word so that we may be able to handle the Word of Truth correctly.  Teaching the Word of Truth correctly demands in-depth study, meditation, an open heart, application, and prayer.  God, our Master, does not accept shoddy work! 

Although Paul commands Timothy in this letter to study God’s Word to be approved by Him, he is implying something more than just studying.  Paul wants Timothy to live out what he is studying and teaching (Romans 12:1-2).  For Timothy to become a worker approved by God, he would have to be diligent in his service to God, correctly handling the Word of God.  He would have to understand the Old and the New Covenants correctly.  Timothy must be on guard against false teaching, misapplying, and twisting the Word of Truth when teaching others.  In doing this, Timothy could be sure that he would not be ashamed as he stood before God on judgment day.  To be approved by God must be the goal for all Christians.  

In my previous study of 2 Timothy 2:1-13, we noticed how Paul stresses living faithfully before God, even to the point of suffering.  If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he will deny us.  Timothy was to remind his hearers of Jesus’ sacrifice and of their need to serve Him faithfully.  Nothing pleases God more than handling carefully and correctly His written Word. We must reverence the  written Word of God as the psalmist said, 

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

To be approved by God is something that all of us must want!  How can God approve us? How do we know we are approved servants of God? In 2 Timothy 2:14-26, we are given three pictures to help us present ourselves as workers approved by God.  This is exactly where I want to focus this study.

In the last half of 2 Timothy 2, Paul is compelling Timothy to be useful to the Master, a worker who does not need to be ashamed. He also warns Timothy to avoid profane and vain babblings and foolish and ignorant disputes.  Paul also reminds Timothy what he must flee from (youthful lusts) and what he must pursue (righteousness, faith, love, peace). Paul urged Timothy to properly handle the Word of Truth and correct others with gentleness and humility.   Timothy would be a faithful servant of the Lord prepared for every good work, especially when dealing with those whom the devil has ensnared.



I.   THE FAITHFUL VS. THE UNFAITHFUL:   
"Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 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. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 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.'  20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 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.  22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.'"  (2 Timothy 2:14-26)


  • Watching Our Words:  (2 Timothy 2:14-19)

“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 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. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 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.’” 


    • Quarreling And Arguing Over Words:

“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.”  (2 Timothy 2:14)

    1. Timothy was to remind Christians to watch their words. 
    2. He was to charge them not to strive about words that do not profit and produce ruin for the hearers.    
    3. Christians must remember that there is no value in quarreling and arguing over words (1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 5:21; 1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9-11).  
    4. He was to warn Christians before God (1 Timothy 1:18). 
    5. Quarreling or arguing over words turns people away from the simplicity of the Gospel, the faith, and discourages everyone who is listening.

Those who quarrel or dispute about words are identified as those who "teach different doctrines" (I Tim. 6:3-6).  Take notice that the  "words" quarreled or argued in our verse do not profit a man's soul because they ruin those that hear them.  To hear or accept the doctrines of men that are above and beyond the divine revelation is catastrophic to the eternal state of the soul. 


  • Handling The Word of Truth Rightly:  

In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul urges Timothy to handle the Word of Truth rightly. He implies that it is possible to misuse God’s Word.  Timothy was to be diligent in presenting himself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed and rightly divides the Word of Truth.   

“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.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


All Christians are commanded to study God’s Word to help us live our lives according to the will of God.  We are to live out what we teach and study.  When we faithfully handle the Word of Truth, it means that we are using the Word of God correctly, cutting it straight and dividing it right.   The word for  ‘rightly handle’ in Greek is ‘orthotomeo,’ and this is the only time the word is used in the New Testament.

In our text, Paul is urging Timothy to be diligent in applying the Word of God correctly to stand against false teachings (1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Peter 1:10).  It stresses the need for us to study the Word of God.  We cannot stand against false teaching or use the Word of God correctly if we neglect the diligent study of it (Hosea 4:6).

    1. The purpose of God’s Word is not to go argue over words with others. 
    2. God wants us to teach His glory and the truth of His Word, not argue about words.  
    3. Some love to make arguments just for the sake of arguing with others.  
    4. They enjoy poking and prodding others, for they love to quarrel.  
    5. Sadly, they use the Word of God for fighting and arguing, and they look for people to argue with. 
    6. They don’t go to the Word of God to learn, grow in the Grace of God, and be transformed into His image.  
    7. They fight over words because they want to argue about something.  
    8. It is amazing! 


How sad that some love to argue with others about many issues and words!  It makes them happy to argue and fight. Think for a moment how many churches have been ripped apart because of a few Christians arguing over words! The saddest part is that the work of the church is destroyed and, along with it, the faith of many.  Some Christians just love to argue over new ideas and teachings, ignoring the impact they are having on the faith of others. 

  • Avoid Irreverent Babble (Irreverent And Empty Speech):

“But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.”   (2 Timothy 2:16-18)


In verse 16, Paul says to avoid irreverent babble. Listen to his words.

“But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.” 

The CSB says to “avoid irreverent and empty speech.” Irreverent and empty speech produces ungodliness. Paul warned Timothy about this kind of speech in his first letter. Paul urges Timothy and Christians not to fight over words, for it ruins the hearers.
“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called 'knowledge,' for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).  

Paul wanted Timothy to handle the Word of Truth correctly to avoid godless chatter (irreverent or profane babble) and getting involved in non-biblical discussions with people. By Timothy avoiding this, he would be more involved in doing the work God had commissioned for him to do as an evangelist (1 Timothy 6:20; Titus 3:9-11).   Profane and vain babblings (verses 16-18) can only increase ungodliness (verse 16).  Their message will spread like cancer (17a).  Paul gave two examples of such men who depart from the Truth:  Hymenaeus and Philetus (17b).  They overthrew the faith of some by saying the resurrection was already past (verse 18).  

  • Fruitless And Useless Teaching:

“And their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.”  (2 Timothy 2:17-18)


These two men were false teachers (Hymenaeus and Philetus), for they were teaching that the resurrection had already occurred (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).  Their teaching was like 'gangrene' and was destroying the faith of some Christians (1 Timothy 1:19-20).  You see, the more people get involved in godless chatter, the more ungodly they become.  As a result, their teaching spreads like gangrene.  The Greek word for gangrene is “gaggraina.”  It is found in the New Testament only once and implies that it will spread throughout the body unless it's dealt with immediately.  In a few words, if false teaching is not dealt with immediately, it will spread throughout the church like a disease.  Teaching fruitless and useless doctrines only leads to division within the church.  

You can be sure that these two men believed they had not left the Truth and that everyone else was wrong. They were ready to fight over words.  

    1. They were destroying the faith of some, teaching something false, even though they thought they were right. 
    2. Even though some Christians had fallen away because of their false teaching, the foundation of the church which God had laid remained firm (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:9-10; Ephesians 2:20-21). 
    3. Jesus dealt with the same problem in the Pharisees and scribes who thought they knew the Scriptures well. 
    4. Yet, in their knowledge of the Scriptures, they missed the clear truth of Jesus as their  Savior. 
    5. They missed mercy and justice as they argued over empty and useless words. 


There has always been a lot of noise coming from the chattering classes. Many of them wear the formal garb of “ministers” and sound like informed “doctors of divinity,” but their words distract us more than informing us of God's will for our daily lives. Godliness is the way of living that shows reverence toward God, the fear of God. Nothing is more important to us than pleasing our Creator and Lord. The evil of irreverent babble is that it always contains small, subtle deceptions that allow us to drift from the path God has ordered for all men.  

Word war is when arguments turn into malice, slander, and ill-will.  When this happens, it is impossible to have any kind of discussion about God’s Word with anyoneWhen we think we can argue over doctrinal matters and show feelings of hurt, anger, hate, malice, and slander, we have already left the heart of God and find ourselves in word wars.  Why?  

    1. Because we forget the other person’s soul as we argue that we’re right and the other person is wrong.  
    2. This way of thinking and attitude of heart is destructive. 
    3. Paul declared that such an action spreads like gangrene. 
    4. Gangrene destroys the flesh of others who catch it. 
    5. This spirit of argument is destructive to us and others.  
    6. This is contrary to God’s Word.  
    7. The Word of God does not seek to destroy others but accurately shows how to live our lives in godliness and holiness.  

Let us be careful that we not argue over irreverent and chatter words (irreverent babble) but instead use God’s Word accurately to not find ourselves ashamed on the day of judgment.

Christians must turn away from wickedness or ungodliness, for it is the key to being known (approved) by God. If we claim to know and love God, we must live like it (John 13:34-35). Our lives must reflect Whom we belong to (Romans 6:17-18).

  • God’s Firm Foundation:

“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.”’  (2 Timothy 2:19)

Paul declared that the Lord knows who are His.  God's solid foundation stands, having this seal:  “The Lord knows those who are His” (19a).  “Let those who name the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (19b)

As long as this foundation, Christ, the chief cornerstone,  remains firm, there is no need to be troubled by apostasy (Psalm 11:3).  

    1. Our faith is built on Jesus, the Christ and Son of God (Matthew 16:18-19; John 20:30-31). 
    2. The church that remains steady and firm on that foundation will continue to be a shining light amid false teaching.  
    3. As expressed in our text, a seal is used for security or as a mark of authenticity (Matthew 27:66; Revelation 9:4). 
    4. The seal here is affixed to the foundation.  
    5. It refers to the inscription of the foundation stone that always remains there.  
    6. The words of the inscription imply that God knows those who are faithful to Him (Numbers 16:5; Numbers 16:26-27l; Isaiah 52:11; Nahum 1:7; John 10:27-28).
 

II.    VESSELS OF HONOR AND DISHONOR:
"Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 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. (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

  • Honorable Use: 
The second picture Paul uses is a metaphor that describes those whom God knows and judges by their behavior  (verses 20-21). 
  1. He used the illustration of a large house full of bowls, dishes, and utensils.  
  2. Such a house has all kinds of vessels, some for honor and some for dishonor (verse 20).   
  3. Some are used for special occasions, and some are used daily. 
  4. The vessels of gold and silver are for special purposes. That is, they are profitable for the growth of the kingdom (1 Corinthians 12:14-26; Romans 9:21-23).  
  5. The vessels of wood and clay are for common or everyday use because of their unrighteous living.

So what is Paul’s point?  Let’s take a look at verse 21.

"21 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.”


Paul’s point is that even those vessels of common use will serve the Father’s will God’s way.  
  1. Those vessels represented as wood and clay cleanse themselves (John 15:2; 1 John 1:9).  
  2. God uses them for special purposes when they are brought out of the cupboard.   
  3. Those who cleanse themselves from things of dishonor will become:  vessels of honor (21), sanctified and useful for the Master, and prepared for every good work.  

Christians must cleanse themselves from those things that are dishonorable for them to be special, honorable instruments. When we are set apart, our Master God can use us, thus becoming useful and ready for every good work in His Kingdom of righteousness.  However, those instruments or vessels must first be cleaned up.  To be a worker or Christian approved by God who has no need to be ashamed, we must get clean. We must purify our lives from the filth of this world.  However,  Paul does not just urge us to clean up and get out of the mud.  He urges us to examine our hearts and find those areas in our lives that we must cleanse to be approved by God.  Christians are urged to turn away from wickedness (godless living) for God to work through them (Ephesians 2:10;  2 Corinthians 9:8;  2 Timothy 3:17).


III.   PURSUE PURITY AS GOD'S SERVANT:

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.  God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed.’”  (2 Timothy 2:22-26)

  • Remove Youthful Passions or Lusts: 
“So flee youthful passions.”  (22a)

Paul compels Timothy to flee from his youthful evil desires.  That same warning applies to us today (both young and old).  You don't have to be young to suffer from youthful lusts (1 Corinthians 6:18  1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Timothy 5:2).  For Timothy to accomplish this, he would have to make a conscious decision and effort to do so ( 1 Timothy 6:11).   Timothy had to choose the right direction, the path of righteousness, to pursue that which is right and holy before God (Hebrews 12:14). In other words, he had to practice all that is good and godly. He had to practice righteousness in all his dealings with people. He had to demonstrate faith, love, and peace to everyone, as others were doing (1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 9:11).  This same admonition applies to us today.  We must pursue from a pure heart those things that are righteous and holy.  

To be an instrument for honorable use, set apart, useful to the Master, and ready for every good work, we must run from the passions and lusts of the flesh. There is no other way to be useful and approved by God.  To be approved by God demands that we actively remove the sinful desires that are common to the young.   We must purify ourselves and run from these things.  

However, other youthful desires include:

    1. Pride.
    2. Jealousy.
    3. Greed.
    4. Being argumentative.
    5. Lacking compassion and care.
    6. Being brash.
    7. Being unwilling to listen, and the like. 

So how do we get rid of our youthful passions and desires? Paul gives us the answer in verse 22bOur focus must be on these things.  

  • Pursue Righteousness, Faith, Love, And Peace From a Pure Heart: 

“Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (22b


Paul charged Timothy to flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. To call on the Lord, we must have a pure heart.  
    1. A pure heart demonstrates pure motives, intentions, and purposes.  If these things are not pure, our heart is not pure. 
    2. We cannot call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 
    3. A pure heart seeks only God (Matt. 5:8). 
    4. When we seek after something else other than God, our motive is not pure, and thus our heart is not pure. 
    5. The heart must be pure in all its constituents to call on the Lord.
    6. A pure heart lives to serve God in faith, love, and peace. 

Paul's admonition to Timothy included turning away from, not just the activity of the flesh, but the desires of the flesh (youthful lusts) and striving to be righteous (do the right thing).  Those who are pure in heart always seek to do the right thing, for they do not want to do the wrong thing.  They mourn when they do wrong. That is the challenge of having a pure heart.

    1. The Word of Truth creates in us purity.  
    2. The word pure means clean. 
    3. The pure heart does not question the validity of God’s Word.  Such a heart does not argue with implications.  
    4. Those who are pure in heart strive to do the will of God as written in His Word. 
    5. The pure heart is devoted to God, for such a heart knows that he cannot call on the Lord with an impure heart.  
    6. The pure heart trusts in God and honors Him instead of seeking the things of this world for pleasure.   
    7. Purity in heart is a constant challenge for Christians living in this world.  
    8. When Christians pursue righteousness with the strength that God supplies, they will more likely resist temptation and grow spiritually.  

One of the most critical roles for both Timothy and Titus was to model good works.  For them to teach the Truth about Jesus demanded godly and righteous living. Otherwise, their work was in vain. As they pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace from a pure heart, they could rest assured God was approving them and their work. 

  • Avoid Foolish And Ignorant Disputes (Controversies):  

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23)


In verse 23, Paul commands Timothy to have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies because they generate quarreling. The Lord’s servant must not engage in such things.  For Timothy to do this,  he must avoid foolish and vain arguments that don’t amount to a hill of beans, for they are not profitable for every good work (1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 4:7;  2 Timothy 2:16).  Such foolish and ignorant disputes usually begin with those who often go way beyond what is written and don’t respect the authority of the Scriptures (2 John 9-10).  Sadly, those who love to breed quarrels and fights lead to division within the church (2 Timothy 2:14-16;  Titus 3:9-11).  
Those who involve themselves in fruitless and vain questions of faith as they try to generate strife must be "refused." Why?  Because the only thing that comes out of these useless and controversial disputes is strife or quarrels.  Those who cause trouble in the Lord’s church are false teachers. Error does nothing but breed "strife" (I Tim. 6:3ff).  Those who love nothing but a “good” quarrel over vain and ignorant controversies are used by the devil to do his will.  They have fallen into a common trap of the devil (Luke 15:17; 1 Timothy 3:7;  Hebrews 3:13). 

  • The Lord’s Servant Must Not Be Quarrelsome:  
“And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.  God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed.’”  (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

    • Be Gentle to All:  

"And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil."  (2 Timothy 2: 24) 


In verse 24, Paul declares that the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patient when wronged, and correct with gentleness or humility.  
    1. Timothy was to be an example as a teacher of the Gospel and not quarrel with others.  This applies to all Christians (Titus 3:2).  
    2. Timothy must be kind to everyone (1 Thessalonians 2:7)
    3. Able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2), and 
    4. Not resentful, that is patient (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13).  
    5. In a few words, he was to be a man of peace (peacemaker).   

Paul stresses that we abstain from erroneous or false teaching to be free of strife.  When we teach error, we involve ourselves in strife.  Of course, Paul at no point is promoting peace at the expense of the Word of TruthMany believe it is wrong to argue over matters of faith or doctrine.  However, Jude, in his letter, commands that we contend for the faith (Jude 3).  

    • Correcting With Gentleness:  
“Correcting his opponents with gentleness.”  (2 Timothy 2:25)

The "opponents" are those who like to argue all the time over foolish controversies and speculations.  Timothy was not to get angry with them but rather be gentle.  In doing this, he would point out their error with the Truth (Hebrews 4:12) so that they might repent and embrace the Word of Truth (Acts 11:18; Hebrews 12:13; 1 John 1:7-9).  

Thus, those who usually teach error breed strife or quarrelsRather than causing strife in the church through error,  the "Lord's servant" must do the following to be approved by God.

    1. Be gentle toward all.
    2. Treat people with a mild and calm disposition rather than attacking and having an aggressive disposition. 
    3. Be  "apt to teach." The phrase "apt to teach" is one word in Greek, i.e., "didaktikon," which is defined as "apt (suitable, having a tendency, likely to do something, inclined to do something) or qualified to teach." We find this phrase in I Timothy 3:2 concerning the qualification of elders.
    4. Have a gentle disposition and willingness to teach the Truth.
    5. Be  "forbearing." To be forbearing is to be patient with people. You see, when we teach others, it usually takes time for them to process spiritual information. Thus we must give them time to think and reflect on the new teaching.
    6. The Lord’s servant must meekly correct those that oppose him. To be "meek" (praus)  means to be gentle, kind, mild, humble, soft, and have a forgiving disposition toward others. It shows humility.  Both Jesus (cf. Matt. 11:29) and Moses (cf. Numb. 12:3) were meek.  Those who are meek are patient with others. Paul stresses that the "Lord's servant" must deal humbly, gently, and patiently with those who oppose him. Those of opposite opinions and different religious backgrounds or beliefs. 


Since the Lord’s servant represents the Truth, he is commanded to be gentle, humble, kind, and patient with his opponents rather than abrasive.  Hence, let us not be guilty of insulting our opponents when we debate or are defending the Truth but rather let us expose the doctrinal error and false teaching.   

  • Repentance Leading to The Knowledge of The Truth:  

“God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.  26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.  God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed.’”  (2 Timothy 2:25- 26)


As vessels of honor, our job is to restore our opponents to repentance unto knowledge of the Truth and free them from Satan's captivity.  The Lord’s servant seeks to rescue the erring with his meek disposition.  We must remind ourselves that the main goal is not to win but persuade and lead others to repentance.  As those who call on the Lord and hope to be found approved by Him, we must think about what we will say or do to help those in sin come to the knowledge of the Truth that perhaps God might grant them repentance.  In a few words, we must not be an obstacle to repentanceWhy?  
    1. Because we must think and act like God, who is longsuffering and desires that all men come to their senses and escape Satan’s deception and traps.  
    2. So we must act with gentleness and patience and avoid endless arguments. 
    3. Rather, we must look for resolution and repentance.  

As those who are instruments or vessels of honor, our primary goal is to make the effort to be useful to our Master and be ready for every good work.  


CONCLUSION

I am enjoying my in-depth studies on Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy.  This study has enriched me as it deepened my understanding of many critical issues that concern every saint today.  I love pushing myself beyond my knowledge in search of the Truth on many doctrinal matters.  I never tire of searching for God’s riches in His Word of Truth.  It reminds me of Jesus' parable of the treasure hidden in a field which a man finds. He goes and sells all that he has to buy that field and rejoices in taking possession of that treasure. That is how I often feel when I am compelled to dig deeper into the Scriptures to find God's treasures. I pray that you may feel the same joy.  

“Oh how I love your law (instruction)!  It is my meditation all the day."  (Psalm 119:97)


Many in the religious world are confused as to what the Bible says on a variety of subjects. This is evident when we observe the myriad of denominational churches and the differing doctrines they embrace. Have you ever wondered where these doctrines came from? Obviously, they originated in the minds of men.  But what did the Lord say about this?   In Matthew 15:8-9, Jesus was very “plain” about it. He warned us of this very thing.  After calling the scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites,” He said, 

"This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;  9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."


Could there be anything clearer than this?  Why do people alter God’s Word to make commandments which God has not written? 

The answer is simple.  They fail to do what God has said because they do not know God’s Word. They don’t read, study, or meditate on the Word of Truth. This is why we are urged in 2 Timothy 2:15 to study with diligence to present ourselves approved by God.  You see, Truth (divine revelation) has been contrasted with erring doctrines and men who espouse those doctrines (2 Tim. 1:13-14 and 2:14).  However, the approved Christian is not "ashamed" of Truth. God is very concerned about this! (2 Tim. 1:8; Rom. 1:16). When Christians are ashamed of the Truth,  they often refuse to speak about it and reject the teachers of Truth.  Paul compels Timothy not to fear man because souls are at stake (2 Tim. 1:7).  Those who are approved by God teach the Word of Truth correctly. Christians are admonished to hold a straight course of Truth and recognize the standards of Truth.  

Psalm 1:1-2 describes the blessed man who finds delight by meditating on God’s Word, day and night.  When we fail to read, study and meditate on God’s Word, we become like those in 2 Peter 3:16, “unlearned  (ignorant) and unstable,” and as a result, they “wrest" (twist) the scriptures to their own destruction.  

People want to do things their own way, teaching what others want to hear.  2 Timothy 4:3-4 warns us of those with “itching ears” who will not “endure sound doctrine.”  In Acts 20:30, Paul warned the Ephesian elders that some of them would speak “perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”  Those who want things “their way” reject God’s Word and authorityRead God’s Word. Rightly divide it. Know it and properly follow it. Examine yourself by God’s Word. Then make the needed changes so you can live godly and righteously.  We show our love for God when we faithfully obey His Word.

In 2 Timothy 2:14, Paul charges Timothy to remind the brethren of those against the Gospel Message.  The Word of Truth does not make us ineffective because God’s promises of salvation are true and faithful (2 Tim. 2:9; 2 Tim. 2:13; Acts 26:14).  No man can frustrate the promises of God. Paul told Timothy to "charge" men not to teach false doctrines (I Tim. 1:3, 18). He told Timothy to remind the brethren of these things.  What things? The dangers of false teaching and worldliness(1 Tim. 4:6).  And though the brethren at Ephesus were taught well, they still needed to be reminded of their responsibilities just like the rest of us (2 Pet. 1:12-14).

Paul also commanded Timothy not only to remind the brethren of these things but also to avoid “disputing about words that do not profit” but only “ruin the hearer.”  Paul’s first letter to Timothy gave him similar warnings concerning false teachers (1 Tim. 6:3-6). Those who quarrel or dispute about words are identified as those who "teach different doctrines" (1 Tim. 6:3-6). 

2 Timothy 2:15 provides the needed formula to keep us in shape for our race.   

Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.”   


Obtaining God’s approval is urgent work.  It makes us approved Christians who are not ashamed of the Truth (2 Tim. 1:8;  Rom. 1:16). The Christian who is approved teaches the Word of Truth correctly instead of teaching a different doctrine (1 Tim. 6:3).  The only way for Christians to avoid being infected by false doctrines and the cares of this world is through urgent effort to be approved of God (clean in respect to sin). The apostle Peter gave the same instruction in 2 Pet. 3:17-18.

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”


When Paul stresses that Timothy should avoid profane or irreverent babblings, he is also writing for all faithful servants of the Lord because they will generate ungodliness and eat as gangrene (2 Timothy 2:16-18).  

"But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some."


What are profane or irreverent babblings?  Erring doctrines, empty words, vain disputation, and fruitless disputes that don’t profit (kenopsonias, 1 Timothy 6:20).  Paul gives us two examples of men, Hymenaeus and Philetus, who were teaching doctrinal error about the resurrection, arguing that the resurrection had already passed. To say that the resurrection had already passed was to cause controversy about our hope and faith, taking our hope away, making void God’s promises.  Indeed, such teaching is certainly "vain or irreverent babblings."  It is fruitless teaching identified as "error" against the Truth. 

When men teach fruitless doctrinal error, it usually eats as gangrene does. Paul compares the corrupting influence of profane or irreverent talk to this disease. Paul was indeed very concerned about the leavening effects of doctrinal error when he dealt with the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:6). You see, when doctrinal error spreads, it has the tendency to disturb or overthrow the faith of many.  False teachers often pervert the right ways of the Truth.  

The Word of God commands us to expose false teachers so that no one may be deceived by their error or false teaching (Deut. 13:4-9; 20:16-18; Zech. 13:1-6; Eph. 5:11; II Pet. 2:4ff).  Paul named false teachers in a public setting (1 Tim. 1:20). Jesus named false teachers too (Matt. 5:20; 16:11-12 etc.).  Peter associated false teachers with false prophets in 2 Peter 2:1-2Just take a look at the writings of the prophets in the Old Testament and notice how they also named the false prophets as well.  Jeremiah named 5 false prophets (teachers): Hananiah, Pashhur, Ahab, Zedekiah, and Shemaiah. Micah named Balaam, Omri, and Ahab (Micah 6:5, 12-16).  This is to warn us that when men’s false doctrines go unchallenged, the souls of many will be lost.  Take heed!

Although men like Hymenaeus and Philetus taught erring or false doctrines, “God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal”  (2 Tim. 2:19).  Teaching the Truth often brings hardship to one's life. That is why Paul urged Timothy to not be ashamed of the Truth, nor of those who teach the Truth (2 Tim. 1:8).  Paul's hardship in teaching and defending the Truth is obviously seen in his letters (2 Timothy 2:9).  Truth cannot be bound even when wicked men try to restrain it and sweep it under the rug with their wickedness.  There is one thing I have learned, and that is that it does not matter what men like Hymenaeus and Philetus say, "the firm foundation of God stands." God’s Truth will remain Truth, and His promises will remain as God's promises. No matter what men may do to harm or destroy the Truth, nothing will change it (Acts 26:14; 2 Tim. 2:13).  God’s firm foundation is an evident reference to Truth. The "seal" of God’s Truth is:  "the Lord knows them that are his" (Rev. 7:1-8; 13:16).

Those that belong to the Lord are those who "name the name of the Lord" (i.e., live by His authorized pattern). They are God’s elect.  Why?  Because they always strive to depart from unrighteousness or iniquity (1 Pet. 2:9).  Those who are His trust in the promises of God because they understand that no matter what men might do against the efficacy of God’s Truth, that Word of Truth will never be destroyed or crushed.  

The Lord’s church will always have  “vessels of dishonor” (2 Timothy 2:20-26).  However, the faithful servants of the Lord will always conform their lives to the image of Christ  (Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:3ff).  The Lord also knows that some will follow this way of righteous living.   Paul gives us an illustration of vessels found in a great house.  In that house, we can find some vessels of gold, silver, wood, and clay (pots).  The vessels of gold and silver are very valuable.  They are worth more than wood and clay I love this illustration!   

Our world is composed of men and women of honor.   They belong to the Lord.  He knows them, and they know Him. These brethren are vessels of honor for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work.   Likewise, those within the world are represented as vessels of wood and clayWho are they?  They are those who don’t walk in righteousness according to God’s Truth.  They are walking in unrighteousness, doing the will of this world.  And though they’re unfruitful and walking in error, they can still clean themselves, that is, purge sin from their lives.  In doing this, they can become vessels of honor, useful to the Lord in every way.   There seems to be a double meaning here. Perhaps, those in the world (nonbelievers) and those brethren who have fallen away might be the vessels of dishonor that Paul is talking about. 

God commands us to flee youthful lusts and follow after righteousness, faith, love, and peace, as those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).  So what are youthful lusts?  They can be things like the desire to be rich in this world (1 Tim. 6:9) and sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18).  The elect of God will follow after righteous and faithful living, love, and peace rather than turmoil. The elect of God are those who call on Him out of a pure heart.  God’s approval is for those who have run from youthful desires, leading others to God.  They refuse to fall into word wars, fights, and arrogance. "The Lord knows who are His, and let everyone who names the name of the Lord run from sin" (2 Timothy 2:19).  When one calls on the name of God, he is invoking God for help.  Those who call on the name of the Lord understand their need for Christ, especially the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16; Heb. 2:18). 

Paul gives us another warning: to avoid foolish and ignorant questioning or controversies, knowing that they generate quarrels or strife (2 Tim. 2:23).  Often, these foolish and ignorant questions are addressed in light of someone teaching a different doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3-4).  We’re told to reject those who pose fruitless and vain questions of faith as they breed strife.   Error does breed strife (1 Tim. 6:3ff).  We will be free of strife or quarrels when we abstain from erroneous teaching. When we teach error, we are getting involved in strife, that is, fruitless, foolish, and ignorant controversies.  It is a grave mistake to promote peace at the expense of the Truth!  It is not wrong to defend the Truth over matters of doctrine or faith (Jude 3).  

We are commanded not to cause strife (fights) in the church through foolish controversies and speculations.  The way we interact with each other deeply matters to God. God commands His servants to present themselves as approved workers who do not need to be ashamed.  It means that we must not use the Word of God to fight, for it will ruin the hearers. Thus, we must refuse to fight about words and be dishonorable in the way we talk and interact with others (2 Timothy 2:20-21). The Lord’s servant must be gentle, meekly correcting those that oppose us.  It will require a mild and gentle disposition rather than attacking with an ill and aggressive disposition (2 Tim. 2:24-26). 

To be approved by God, we, His servants, must be kind to those we teach.  We also must be patient when teaching others.  Indeed, it takes time for people to process and discern God’s Truth. Why not give them time to digest the new teaching? It matters to God how we interact with others, especially each other! Why not instruct our opponents with gentleness?  

The goal as vessels of honor is not to win. Our goal must be repentance.  Our job is to restore the erring unto the knowledge of the Truth and rescue them from the snares of the devil.  The Lord’s servant watches his words carefully toward those he is teaching so that he may win them to Christ as they repent.  We must not be a stumbling block to repentance! So we must act with gentleness and patience and avoid endless arguments. Why?  Because our goal is resolution and repentance. Those who are instruments of honor strive hard to be useful to the Master and ready for every good workGod approves those who are not arrogant, run from all wickedness, and avoid fights, arguments, or quarrels.  God knows them and is pleased with them.   

Our Lord Jesus Christ spent His entire life on earth pleasing His Heavenly Father by doing His Will.   He set the perfect example before us.  He made the way to Salvation possible through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.   Therefore, let us be vessels of honor approved by God who do not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of TruthLet us be more godly, sanctified, and useful to our Master for every good workLet us pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace and flee from sin.  Let us be gentle to all, able to teach, and patient in all humility as we correct those in opposition.  Perhaps they might come to their senses and escape the devil's snare, for they have been taken captive by him.  Perhaps God might grant them repentance through the knowledge of the Truth.  

May we be more diligent in presenting ourselves approved to God as servants who do not need to be ashamed, handling the Word of Truth accurately.  May we understand that to be a workman that God might approve, we must be diligent in service to Him. May we have an open mind, an open heart, and a faithful life to the Word of Truth.  May our main goal and focus be that we be servants worthy of God’s approval.  May we live faithfully before God,  even to the point of suffering.  May we refuse to quarrel, dispute, or strive about words that do not profit but generate endless arguments.  May we remind all men of Christ’s sacrifice and the need to obey Him, serve Him, and work diligently to be approved before Him.  May we stand before God without shame on that final judgment day.  Finally, may we look to the Word of God with the same reverence as the psalmist who wrote, 

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”   (Psalm 119:105)


~Luci



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