“The Truth Resisters”
(2 Timothy 3:1-9) Series: Faithful to the Finish Line (2 Timothy)
Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD
Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson KY
Introduction to the message
Pastor Todd is out of town. He’s doing some research for my sermon.
Let’s remember that Paul, from prison, is writing to Timothy, a young pastor in the city of Ephesus. Paul is urging Timothy to be faithful in ministry. He is encouraging Timothy to build a faithful church full of disciples who are also making disciples. People who love and obey Jesus and seek to influence others to love and obey Jesus. He is encouraging Timothy to be faithful to the finish line.
Today, we’re going to continue this letter and we’ll be in chapter 3, verses 1-9. Before we read the passage let me frame the context of what’s going on.
Paul has charged Timothy to be faithful, and to lead a church that is faithful.
In chapter two he also talked about calling to repentance those that have wandered astray.
Now, he tells Timothy to be on the lookout for someone.
Illustration: How many of you have seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy? The movies are epic! There’s a seen at the battle of Helms Deep where the joined forces of valor are gathered together to wait for the evil invaders. They await at the wall for the armies of Sauron and Saruman to meet them. They are ready for action. Today, we’re going to talk about our need to be ready for a dangerous enemy. We need to be ready for the truth resisters.
Read the passage (stand)
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. (2 Timothy 3:1-9)
Introduction of the passage
As happens when we do verse by verse preaching, this passage follows on the heels of our passage from last week.
(Read 2 Timothy 2:24-26)
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 may grant repentance and change to some the opponents of the truth. We should always seek correction and restoration first. However, there will also be those who refuse to turn from their wicked and deceptive teaching.
Paul is now narrowing his attention on a more specific person, the truth resister.
The resisters are coming.
The coming of the resisters (verse 1)
Paul says, “But know this.”
Paul wanted to draw attention here. He seemed to want Timothy to be aptly aware.
Timothy should “know” that “this” is going to happen.
Paul speaks of “the last days.”
This refers to the time in-between the birth of the church following the resurrection of Jesus, and the time of Jesus’ second coming. (you can see Acts 2:17 on your own. You may want to jot that down, Acts 2:17)
We are living in the “last days” now.
Paul calls these times “perilous” or “difficult” in some translations. The point here is that terrible things will take place.
These terrible things that will happen in the last days will come not only from outside the church, but also from within the church.
We should be ready for this.
The great reformer John Calvin said, “We ought to arouse our hearts for resistance.”
Just as the evil forces were coming at the walls of Helms Deep in the Lord of the Rings, so also we must be ready for these false teachers.
The perilous times will come and the truth resisters will come.
II. The character of the resisters (2-7)
Paul next describes the character of the resisters.
Let’s walk through this without much commentary from me. It’s pretty straight forward.
These men will be . . .
. . . lovers of themselves
. . . lovers of money
. . . boasters
. . . proud
. . . blasphemers
. . . disobedient to parents
(children, God really wants you to obey your parents and honor them. The bad guys in this passage are the ones that don’t obey their parents).
. . . unthankful
. . . unholy
. . . unloving
. . . unforgiving
. . . slanderers
. . . without self-control
. . . brutal
. . . despisers of good
. . . traitors
. . . headstrong
. . . haughty
. . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
. . . having a form of godliness but denying its power.
I think this phrase here is interesting
The ESV translates it, “The appearance of godliness”
The NLT translates is, “They will act religious”
These men clearly claimed to be followers of Jesus and maybe even appeared to be, but their character demonstrated otherwise.
They were not truly devoted to the Lord.
Let me just say that character matters for Christians.
It matters in the church.
Godliness matters in the church.
These descriptors of the truth resisters stand in stark contrast to the characteristics which the Bible tells us to strive towards.
The Bible tells us to strive towards things like the fruits of the Spirit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23).
Paul tells us to fight for love.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Paul tells us to not love to be lovers of self, but rather to consider others.
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
And our Lord tells us that the greatest commandment of all is to love.
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ (Matthew 22:37-39).
The outer appearance is meaningless if the heart does not change.
Indeed, these men deny the real power of God. They do not demonstrate a life that is changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Next, Paul gives us the second action to take (the first action is to “know this” in verse 1): Paul says, “FROM-SUCH-PEOPLE-TURN-AWAY!”
We are not to be with these truth resisters.
Notice that Paul is not saying that we should avoid non-Christians. We are not to avoid unchurched people. We are to avoid those within the church who lack godly character, refuse to repent, and seek to lead others astray.
We must get that! We must be open to engaging the world and our neighbors with the gospel.
We must stand for truth and disassociate ourselves with those who claim to be Christian, yet continually deny the truth of God, refuse to repent, and live contrary to God’s Word.
Paul goes on a bit further to describe these men and their character (Read verse 6).
6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts.
These men are infiltrating the homes of believers and deceiving Christians.
Paul specifically mentions here gullible women.
I’ve done a lot of study on this because I want to get this right. This could go very badly for me if I get this wrong 🙂
Raise your hand if you’re a woman. Okay! 🙂
Paul was certainly not against women. In other parts of Paul’s writings he celebrates women as godly servants, worthy mentors, and helpful fellow missionaries. So, what is going on here?
I believe what’s happening here is that the false teachers are probably intentionally targeting new Christian women.
Remember, Timothy is a pastor in Ephesus. Ephesus is full of false worship. Many of these women who are new to the Christian church would not have been far off from idolatry.
Further, in that culture, women were often not permitted to learn in group settings as men were. Therefore, they may have been eager to learn from any teacher, even the false teachers.
These women may have had past sins that were heavy on their heart, they may have had a past of idol worship, and they may have had limited knowledge of the true gospel. This combination made them perfect targets for these false teachers.
They were targeting the weak, easy targets.
This again points to the insidious nature of these teachers.
Finally, Paul describes these men as always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
This reminds me of some people that I knew in seminary 🙂
We can pour ourselves into every new theological book, every new History Channel special, every new YouTube preacher, but if we don’t know the root of the gospel, we will never come to a knowledge of the truth.
Paul is certainly not against learning; he was a well-educated man. But, learning that draws us away from the elementary truths of the Bible is false knowledge, deceptive learning, and harmful to the church.
We must flee that type of knowledge.
III. The conclusion of the resisters (8-9)
Finally, we see what lies ahead for the truth resisters.
Paul compares these men to Jannes and Jambres.
How many of you know who they are?
Well, these names are not used elsewhere in the Bible.
Jewish tradition lists these men as the false prophets that were magicians in Pharaoh’s court. These were two who turned their staffs into snakes before Moses. Later, Aaron’s staff (which turned into a snake) ate their staffs.
As these magicians resisted the truth of God, so also do these false teachers, the truth resisters.
We should not underestimate the fact that these men are compared to the false prophets of Egypt. This is a fantastically terrible comparison. These men are evil!
Paul goes on to say that they are
. . . men of corrupt minds
. . . disapproved concerning the faith
These men are not godly, they are not helpful to the church, they are not on our side.
Just as Jannes and Jambres were eventually exposed as pretenders, God’s sovereign rule and the power of the gospel will expose these truth resisters as evil fools.
In the end, they will fail! And everyone will know it (Read verse 9 again).
9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
So then, what does this mean for us today as the church in 2016 in Henderson, KY and the Tri-state area?
1. We should take teaching seriously.
We should be careful as teachers.
We should be careful as listeners.
We should pray for our teachers.
Students and children, you can pray for your teachers at church, as well as your parents when they teach you the Bible.
All of us can ask our teachers how we can pray for them.
2. We should expect false teachers.
Not necessarily in our local church (though it shouldn’t surprise us).
Terrible things will happen during these perilous times, and false teaching will be present in local churches.
Pray for those teaching and those dealing with false teachers (Thailand church).
3. We should deal with false teachers.
Our first step should be to call them to correction and repentance.
Eventually, if needed, a later step would be to disassociate with them and correct their error.
4. We must be guided by love.
This is the very thing that the false teachers lacked: love.
We do not want to be like the truth resisters. We must pursue love.
One step that we can take is to ask someone how they think we can show love in a better way.
Let us strive toward the attributes that God desires for us.
The outer appearance is meaningless if the heart does not change.
Death of Christ
Payment of Sin
Receive His righteousness
Seek the things of God
Flee false teaching
Song, “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place.”
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