Moving on to chapter 3 in 2 Timothy. It’s a continuation of everything else that moves Timothy into an understanding that it’s not going to be easy to convince people to pursue the things of God rather than the things of the world, youthful lusts.
Paul begins prefaces the list of things men will do with an interesting statement: “in the last days difficult times will come.” It makes me wonder about what kind of “last days” he’s talking about. End times? Our last days? Are we in the last days?
I think the last question carries the most merit. For when I read the list of things men will do, I see a description of myself, a description of today. It’s kind of scary to read. It cuts to the heart of what I’ve made faith to be in my life instead of allowing God to develop my faith toward Him. See if a description of yourself comes out of the passage.
For men will be B)”>lovers of self, C)”>lovers of money, D)”>boastful, E)”>arrogant, F)”>revilers, G)”>disobedient to parents, H)”>ungrateful, I)”>unholy, J)”>unloving, irreconcilable, K)”>malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, M)”>treacherous, N)”>reckless, O)”>conceited, P)”>lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have R)”>denied its power; S)”>Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by V)”>various impulses, always learning and never able to W)”>come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:2-7 (NASB)
Really, we don’t have to look very far to see prime examples of this. But the stuff that sticks out me are those things that I constantly struggle with. Every day it’s important to ask for God’s grace to be upon us that He would give us the strength to overcome, especially since He already has.
In our culture, we’ve become lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. I know I have. There are moments I sacrifice what God desires of me for a moment for myself. Not all pleasure is bad. God made all things to be enjoyed, but not at the expense of Him. This cuts me to the heart. I can hear Him calling my name, asking me quietly, “How about a moment of just you and Me? I have something I want to share with you.” But it’s so much easier to say, “When I go to bed or in the morning. It can wait. Right now I want to watch my show.” And that’s when I see that I love pleasure over God. I’m beginning to feel like throwing up.
There’s another section right next to it that haunts me: “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” Ugh! What does the power of godliness look like? Do I not know? I fear that I don’t! But it’s not that I might not know, it’s that I deny it’s power of having any influence in my life! There’s no credit given to godliness and the power it holds to destroy a worldly life! And maybe that’s why Paul put things in that order. With God being second-rate to my pleasure, what kind of power is godliness even given? None.
With these things in mind and beginning with myself, that’s when I turn faith into an area of manipulation. Maybe I don’t go into people’s homes and captivate them, but maybe I do with this blog. If I’m not coming to a knowledge of the truth by actively allowing God to cut away the things this world has tied me down with, then my motives don’t ever become pure, my heart isn’t genuine, and my love is a face that I put on to cover up what’s burning deep within. I think I’ve got that feeling coming back again in my stomach.
Is it possible to live a life of complete godliness? Does the knowledge of the truth have a chance in my life to bring me to maturity in Christ?
There’s a way.
It’s never easy to be persecuted for following Jesus. But if we expect it and know that it will come, it’s a way to know we are really following Him. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (verse 12)
There’s something else that sticks out to me a little later on toward the end of the chapter. Godliness comes with training. And for the training, there’s a manual directly from the mouth of God. And those things that I once was don’t define who Christ has made me to be today if I continue in what I’ve learned.
This post sounds so depressing. But following Christ isn’t always easy. It’s difficult when He starts cutting away at you to get more of Him living in you. I don’t think He’ll stop until there’s nothing of us left and it’s all Him. But God has given us something to equip us for this life. He is the One who makes us adequate for the work He’s prepared for us to do.
It’s all in His Word. It’s all done through Scripture. The power that works within us to produce godly lives is found in His Word. Take a look and see. Learn to love it and use it. This is what God has given us to see what He desires of us. This is what points out the areas that need to be trimmed from our life to allow more of God in. And, yes, it’s difficult. But now we can expect it.
Paul is also talking about Timothy’s evangelism. He’s encouraging him to hang in there, to remember what he’s learned, how it’s been passed on to him, that the conviction is something that runs deep, and that the conviction should lead him to continue on. Sure it’s difficult to have God chip away at what’s left of the “us” in our hearts. But training people to see God for who He is what He longs for us is also difficult when most believe the lies of the world. However, the power of the Word of God brings godliness even to those in whom we least expect.
It’s time to stop denying. It’s time to remember and know. Continue.