Second Timothy 2:23




The Bible says in Second Timothy 2:23, “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.” We have to learn what to talk about and what not to talk about. Some people have a zeal to talk about the things of the Lord, but if that zeal gets channeled into the wrong subjects, the talk will be in vain. Of course, it will also gender strife. Christians should be united in love, serving the same Lord, and working towards the same goal. That is the will of God. There are certain subjects that if you enter into talking about them, the result will be division and discord among brethren. That is the work of the flesh and the devil.


It is not only what we say, but how we say it. Second Timothy 2:24-26 says, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” One thing that always happens when people intermingle is that they do not always agree. If you disagree with someone, then you think you are right and they are wrong. If it is an important issue, and it turns out that you are right and they are wrong, then it is also important that you help them out if you can. But beware: you are entering into dangerous territory. By all means you do not want to end up opposing that other person, or arguing with them, or striving against them.


Remember that the way that you treat people is the way that they will treat you. The goal is to win them, not to strive with them. If they have something to learn, then they need to be taught. They will not learn something new unless they have a teacher. That is why Second Timothy 2:24 says, “Apt to teach.” None of us has learned everything that we need to learn yet. The only way that we are going to learn more is if someone who knows more than us or who knows better than us teaches us. But there must not only be the right things taught, the teacher must also have the right attitude. Notice the characteristics that are mentioned as being required for you to teach someone. A teacher of God’s Word must have gentleness, patience, and meekness. If you are critical, negative, or harsh when you speak to someone, then you will tend to drive them away from the point that you are making even if your point is correct.   


Why do people resist the truth of the gospel? Why do some people stay in the circle of darkness instead of stepping into the circle of light? One of the main reasons is given in Second Timothy 2:26 that says that they are in “the snare of the devil.” The devil is stronger and smarter than they are. How will anyone ever get out of the snare of the devil? There is one way out. It is the same way that you got out. Second Timothy 2:25 says, “If God perhaps will give them repentance.” Only God can free someone from the snare of the devil. That is the power of the blood of Christ. When God decides to free someone, He just might use you and what you have to say as an instrument of testimony, but only if you remember this important principle of the necessity of having gentleness, patience, and meekness in dealing with them and talking to them.


As you grow in the Lord, this is what you will be all about: witnessing to the lost, teaching the saved, and helping those who do the same. Of course, these activities bring you into contact with people. Life would be just fine if it were not for people and all the problems that they can cause. The sinfulness and the depravity of basic human nature is made very clear in several places in the scriptures. This is one of those places. Second Timothy 3:1-5 says, “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, trucebrakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” When you are around  people like this, it is not going to be pleasant. Of course, everyone is like this in some way except by the grace of God. People with these characteristics cause perilous times. Let us hope this is not a mirror in which we see ourselves. Perhaps we should all do some soul-searching to make sure that none of us are in this list.


Quite a few things in this description of sinful human nature refer directly to selfishness and self-centeredness. For example all of the following refer to human selfishness: “lovers of their own selves, boasters, proud, and highminded.” In a way being unthankful is directly related to selfishness. If someone does something for me and I am not thankful to them for what they have done, it is probably because I am too selfish and self-centered to even give thought to them and what they did.


It is interesting to note that both the first thing on this list and the last thing have to do with what is loved. Be careful what you love. If you love the wrong thing, it will take you down the wrong path, and will lead to other evils. Jesus told us that the first commandment is to love God with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength. And Jesus told us that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. The first thing to be said about the human beings who cause perilous times is that such human beings are “lovers of their own selves.” The last thing to be said about such human beings is that they are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God


Something else to notice about this list of sins is the fact that some of the things that we often associate with great sinfulness are not listed here. We do not see stealing, murder, or adultery in any way listed here. You do not have to be a thief, a murderer, or an adulterer to be a great sinner. Of course, some of the things listed in Second Timothy 3:1-5 will lead to the grosser outward forms of the sins. Someone who is a lover of himself, and someone who is a lover of pleasures more than a lover of God, and someone who is proud and high-minded will easily do any great sin. Second Timothy 3:6 says, “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts 


Some of the things listed here will lead to other sins, and some of the things listed are direct violations of the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not covet” is violated by those who are covetous. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” is violated by those who are blasphemous. “Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother” is violated by those who are disobedient to parents.


Notice that in this description of days that are called perilous times, one of the things that is going to characterize the perilous times is problems between parents and children. It is interesting to note that the problem seems to be placed with the children. Perilous times will be characterized by children who are disobedient to parents. Parents have their responsibilities as parents, but sometimes in our society we put too much pressure on parents to create a perfect family. It does not matter how good of a parent you are, your children must be willing to obey. If they are not willing, then there will be problems. In the Ten Commandments one of the commandments has to do with the parent-child relationship. The commandment is not directed to the parents. It is directed to the children and the responsibility of what the children should do to make the relationship work: “Honor your father and your mother.” 


The Bible says in Second Timothy 3:7, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Learning is important. The people of the world know that it is important. If you do not learn enough, you will not get the better job. All occupations require learning of some sort: perhaps not book learning, but they do require learning. Some people think that all the problems of the world would be solved if only there was more and better education. Of course, that depends upon what you learn. According to this verse in Second Timothy you might be a person who learns a lot, but who never comes to know the most important thing to know: the truth. Evidently Pilate did not come to know the truth. After being in the midst of a successful career in rising through the ranks of Roman government, Pilate said to Jesus, “What is truth?” What a terrible condition to be in. It would be terrible for anyone to be in the condition where they were “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” What a blessed and wonderful condition are those  who have entered into the statement made by Jesus in John 14:6, ”I am the way, the truth, and the life


The Bible says in Second Timothy 3:8-9, “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” God wants everyone to know the truth. That is the heart of God. God is constantly doing things to present the truth to a world that lies in darkness. If so, what keeps people from knowing the truth? The answer to that is found right here in this verse. “These also resist the truth.” God offers the truth, but He gives us a free choice. Everyone makes his or her own choice. Why do some people make the wrong choice? Why do some people turn away from the truth and turn away from the light? The reason is that they are sinful and do not want to repent of their sins. These are “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith


This same principle that we can call the psychology of salvation is also found in John 3:19-21 that says, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” The final and ultimate reason that anyone does not get saved is because they choose to hold on to their sins. The final and ultimate reason that anyone does not get saved is because they “resist” the truth.


Of course, if they resist the truth, they are also going to resist you. The same spiritual principle is at work that has always been at work. It is the very same principle that was involved when Moses was on the earth. If you read the life of Moses in the Old Testament, you will find that he faced opposition. The reason that he faced opposition was because Moses stood for the truth. In spite of the opposition, if you stand for the truth, you can at least be confident of the final outcome. You will be on the winning side. The others “shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” The judgement is coming.        


On the one hand there are those who resist the truth, and there is the obvious end that they will come to. We do not want to be like them. We prefer to try and be like the Apostle Paul. Paul spoke of his own manner of life in Second Timothy 3:10-11. He said, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” Paul listed nine things here. The first several things listed demonstrate what motivated him: what Paul was all about. The last several things listed demonstrate what happened to him as a result of the person that he was and as a result of the things that he did.


It all started with his doctrine. Earlier in this book Paul told Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God.” After you study, you always want to make sure that you put it into practice. Your manner of life should be consistent with the teachings that you claim to believe. We know what Paul’s purpose was: to honor the Lord Jesus Christ and to spread the gospel to a lost world. If you are going to have that for a purpose, you certainly are going to need faith, longsuffering, and love. Paul had faith in God and His promises. He knew that it is too big of a task to trust in his own abilities. It is also a task that does not always see immediate results. If you are going to be consistently involved in spreading the gospel, you must have the quality of longsuffering with the emphasis on “long.” There will be no easy or quick answers to some of the things that you will face. You may have to endure some things for a “long” time. If you become involved in spreading the gospel, no one could ever emphasize too much the importance of love: love for Christ and love for the lost souls of mankind. In his walk with Christ on this earth, Paul had these things and more. But notice the consequences for being that kind of a person: “persecutions and afflictions.” Of course, it does not stop there. What happens to us as believers does not stop with the persecutions and afflictions. When we get to the end of our lives, we will be able to say the same thing that Paul said, “Out of them all the Lord delivered me          



Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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