The Word: Devotional Commentary for October 20-26
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,
11persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!
12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Keeping in mind everything he said about wicked men who are driven by a godless self-love, Paul reminded Timothy that there was nothing in them or in him that should undermine his faith in Christ and his labor for the Gospel. As for you, said Paul to Timothy, you have a better example in me to follow. That is, Timothy personally witnessed as Paul openly lived his life in the same corrupt world, without capitulating under the intense pressure of a permissive society. Paul lived what he taught and Timothy witnessed it. What Paul conveyed to Timothy was revealed to him directly by God.
Timothy had witnessed God's mighty work in Paul. He had observed Paul's conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and perseverance as he continued to reach souls for Christ and strengthen believers, undeterred by the enemies of the Gospel and their evil deeds. He had seen how Paul was repeatedly rescued by God from persecutions and sufferings in different towns and cities as he delivered the Good News of salvation both to Jews and Gentiles in spite of the hostile opposition and hatred he had faced. Being from Lystra himself, Timothy was a personal witness to the persecution unleashed upon Paul by the people in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra in the regions of Syria and Galatia.
Paul's exhortation to Timothy was simple and direct. Stand firm in faith and persist in believing and obeying the truth as you have learned it. The Christian must separate himself or herself from the corrupt ways of the world. One must be aware of the corruption around oneself without being crushed by the world into its godless mold. But such conditions should never bully anyone into yielding to the pressures of false teachings and condescending intimidations. Two vital truths always to remember about one's life as a child of God and a commissioned servant of the Lord. The godly is always harassed by the world, and the wicked always slides down a worsening spiral, deceiving others and being deceived themselves. But the Lord Himself is His children's strength.
14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Timothy is now duly informed about the corrupt world around him and its infiltration into the church. But does he yet know the Power that is in him? Not his own power, but the Power in him. Paul made sure that Timothy knew and understood his vocation, the Master he was called to serve, and the Power by which he was commissioned to proclaim the Gospel and prevail over corruption and false teachers.
Paul urged Timothy to stand firm in faith and continue to mature in what he already knew from his childhood. He heard the Gospel early on in his childhood and believed the truth which brought him to God's saving Grace. God's living Word is the wisdom which brought Timothy to faith in Jesus Christ. The same Truth and Wisdom which brought him to faith is also the means by which his understanding is aided to capture the true nature of the world in which he lived and served the Lord.
It was necessary for Timothy to realize that he was living and serving in a permissive society that was morally, religiously, and intellectually corrupt. But it was absolutely more essential that he understood that God's living Word in his heart is God's Power at work in him, bringing down the strongholds of falsehood and evil. So Paul urged Timothy to persevere in faith and courageously stand out against the prevailing godless trend even if he had to stand alone, not really alone, but alone with God.
As a child of God commissioned to spread the gospel, Timothy did not have any other option but to lean on the Word of God and continue closely following the example that was set before him and what he had been taught, in spite of the flowing tide of falsehood. The Scriptures are God-breathed and given by His Inspiration so that the believer is properly and correctly instructed in everything pertaining to righteousness, holiness, sin, and conformity with God in purpose, thought, will, and action, to the end that the child of God is adequately equipped to do every good work as ordained by God, without fear or shame.
Paul's admonition to Timothy was emphatic. He charged him to continue preaching the Gospel. As he took it upon himself, so he demanded it from Timothy. Paul accepted his own ministry as a lifelong duty and privilege to serve God. He passed on the same sacred sentiments to Timothy with these words. There is nothing more serious than God's call on one's life. Paul wanted Timothy to be balanced in his response to God. He did not want him overly enthusiastic and forget God or overly discouraged and give up on God.
Having clearly shown him the spiritual dangers lurking about him, Paul enlightened Timothy that the corrupt conditions of the world are nothing more than a stark representation of the real environment of his mission field. The world where he lived and served is also the home of a permissive society which accommodates and promotes every form of deviation from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul wanted to make sure that Timothy understood a vital truth about his position as a commissioned servant of God. Even though the world stands as a formidable obstacle fueled by the devil, Timothy's guarantee to prevail comes only from the One Who had already overcome the enemy on every front. Evil and wickedness cannot be brought down by some embedded weakness which might undermine their stronghold. Nor can they be wished away. They are already defeated by Timothy's Master, Jesus Christ the Overcomer.
Paul exhorted Timothy to stay the course and continue to preach the gospel in the wisdom of God's Word and in the strength of Jesus Christ as he had been doing, regardless of the appearance and insidious behavior of the world around him. As the redeemed children of God who are not of this world, we must separate ourselves from the secular ways of this world even though the pressure and the intimidation projected by the enemy seem immensely colossal.
There is something self-evident about the inherent lack of conformity to truth in false teaching, and the intrinsic reliability and authenticity in truth. Those who rely on falsehood will certainly slip from bad to worse while those who embrace truth and submit to its enduring precepts shall prevail. The world projects its intimidating presence as an invincible reality, albeit temporal. But viewed through the lens of the Word of God, it is a vast field of lost souls headed for eternal damnation. The Word of God is our wisdom. It is the Power of God in us. With wisdom and power we persevere in spreading the Good News to the world that appears strong and formidable, but indeed weak and lost.