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A biblical journey through the epistles

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Avoid irreverent babble to avoid more ungodliness – 2nd Timothy 2:16-19


Avoid irreverent babble to avoid more ungodliness – 2nd Timothy 2:16-19 – August 31st 2016

This is a series in the book of 2nd Timothy, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of 2nd Timothy as the LORD wills.

2nd Timothy 2:16 (ESV) 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.”

Paul encourages Timothy to be focused; perhaps it is because of his youth or perhaps it is a personal observation but we see that Paul lasers in on avoiding irreverent babble. We see so many ministries today lose their effectiveness because the believer does not heed the warning in the book of James chapter 3…

James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

As I read that I start to disqualify myself because I know my own heart and my own failings. I know none of us are perfect but what Paul is stating here (as well as James) is that profane babblings are not to come from the mouth of a teacher because like it or not he has a greater responsibility not to stumble others. If the leadership has dropped standards in this area it will encourage others to do so and will create a culture of ungodliness.

This is confirmed in verse 17 where Paul states that “it will spread like gangrene” and I know that this is a very graphic picture where it will be like a cancer and be like a degenerating illness when we allow the profanity of man, whether that be his opinions, his ideas or his ways although they tickle the fancy of those you wish to reach and be very popular, if it is contrary to the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ then those things are exactly what Paul is speaking of.

Some of the most lampooned heretics started off on the correct path so we have to be on our guard. They did not all start off like Hymenaeus and Philetus. (Do you remember Hymenaeus from 1st Timothy 1) Their message was profane to the correct Word of God and it was popular because we hear that it was spreading quickly and we even know what error they were preaching.

They taught that “the resurrection has already happened” and due to the heresy they were causing others to believe in something that was contrary to the Word of God. Whilst it was terrible that this happened I do love the lesson here that we have to line up what we are being taught with how well it lines up with the Word of God that will not contradict itself. They were trying to remove the hope from Christianity by stating that Christ was not coming back and the fruit of their labors is that they were upsetting the faith of some, should they remained in this error without repentance we have the words of Christ in the gospel of Matthew 18…

Matthew 18:1 (ESV) At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Sounds harsh huh? That is why I quoted that “not many should become teachers” as it is a much greater responsibility. We have to stand on the solid foundation of God as we read in verse 19. Despite Paul being on the defensive he states quite clearly that the defense of the Gospel that he is defending would not be touched by such minuscule attacks. Guys like Hymenaeus and Philetus and even modern day heretics would not be enough to pull down the kingdom of God. They may misrepresent it or cause it scandal but the Lords firm foundation stands.

Paul speaks of two seals and we see these below…

The Lord knows those who are his – Is a direct quotation from the book of Numbers which in context reads as follows…

Numbers 16:1 (ESV) Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. 2 And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. 3 They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” 4 When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, 5 and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him.

And we are reminded that the Lord knows who are his, we don’t always do and although we can see small evidences of spiritual fruit in people’s lives we will be surprised when we get to heaven by who made it and who didn’t. This is a great witnessing strategy too because Jesus died for us all so who are we to judge who deserves or not His saving gospel.

Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity – We are called as Christians to flee from our sin! Who is perfect in that area huh? I am not being facetious when I say that as we all have different hurdles and stumble in different ways but if we still act like we are in the world then how will we effectively witness to those we want to save for Jesus Christ? How salty are you?

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses twenty through twenty six of chapter two where Paul encourages Timothy to “be an honorable vessel” having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.

Timothy’s instruction in ministry


Timothy’s instruction in ministry

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse six of the fourth chapter of First Timothy.

A Good Servant of Christ Jesus

1st Timothy 4:6 (ESV) If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Paul ties up his previous thoughts and gives the exhortation that if he instructs (or put these things before the brothers) then he will be doing what he is called to do and be a good servant of Jesus Christ. He was calling Timothy to instruct in words, deeds and actions. He had already stated the standard of conduct in chapter three.

For me the greatest leaders or best pastors are those who lead from the front, who not only instruct the word but they live the word and let their lives be a testimony, they pray hard, they trust more and they are more likely to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, they will be mentors, they will be trainers, they will be teachers and they will be shepherds.

Being trained in the words of the faith

This is just the foundation though; the important part comes next…

V6b …being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed…

Timothy will do well if he follows those principles, but he has to remember the main thing that he has to do all these things but he has to use the good doctrine, the doctrine that he got straight from Paul and minister to where he has been planted. He must remain grounded in God’s word, much like a ship with an anchor; he has to use this as his sure foundation. The next part shows what Paul means…

Nothing to do with silly myths

V7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;

As stated prior; we (Timothy also) have to have our priority on God’s word and not the daily rumor mill that will change from day to day. If we have our foundation on something that is so changeable as the words of man, whether it be what we call news, whether it be entertainment, whether it be philosophies that have no eternal value. That is really the crux of what he is saying to Timothy that he has to stay on point. This point that he has to remain focused on God’s infallible word. God is truth and God never changes and man’s word is so unreliable.

Train yourself for godliness

You have to ask yourself, would you base your life’s philosophy on what is said on Fox News? Or what is on the NFL channel? Or is it based on your favorite sports team’s results? Or what movies are playing? Or what your favorite celebrities are saying?  These things will all change tomorrow; it is easy to get caught up in it. (My hot buttons are politics and sports)

What I am asking is “Are you passing time or are you fighting the LORDs fight?” Is your focus on the eternal things or the earthly temporary things? Paul covers this when he states to “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths” and Paul states what should replace that. Paul states that you should “train yourself for godliness” and then explains what he means by this using a culture that was prevalent at that time and one that we can recognize today.

Godliness is of value in every way

V8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Paul is speaking to a culture that placed a lot of credence in body sculpting and personal fitness. The Roman army chose the finest specimens in the empire to serve in the Imperial army! So much so that in that culture having a fit body and becoming fitter and fitter was an overriding passion and an idol in so many people’s lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I would like to drop a few pounds (or 50/60) and I am covetous of (or certainly admire) those who have kept better shape than I have and I do have it as an ambition of mine to become in better shape, but I want to do it for my service to the LORD and in order to better serve my wife and daughter rather than wishing to compete in any competition. This is not the only time Paul talks about training like an athlete, Let’s look at Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth…

Perishable prize

1st Corinthians 9:24 (ESV) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Explains what I explained although much better!

Finding Godly contentment

We have to be careful that we don’t find our contentment in things that are not Godly! Paul talks about an idol of the day and whilst that gives a temporary accomplishment, it will eventually not be as fulfilling as before.

Paul has a great attitude about this; he equates the training that one does for a competition as how we should train ourselves for godliness. We should have that same desire, same drive for success and same discipline that an athlete has when they are trying to better themselves, not for a crown or a piece of gold, but for eternal reward!

Paul promises that godliness is the only life that holds promise both in this life and the life to come, to those who believe. Our life has meaning and has eternal value once we believe and have faith that Jesus did in fact paid it all. God does not desire that any should perish but have everlasting life. We won’t all be in heaven because some men have hard hearts and will not believe in the lifesaving power of the cross. Which is how Paul finishes this passage…

Set your hope on the living God

V9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

It reminds me of a story that my father told me about a man who was evangelizing in a big city and wished to find out the effectiveness of handing out flyers for his Christian event, so he and a friend handed out flyers promising that if people met them in a certain place in about 6 hours from when they received that flyer they would receive a free gift of 5 pounds (UK money) all they had to do was turn up at the appointed time with the invite (the flyer) and accept the free gift.

Now he had money to pay if everyone turned up, and he estimated that he handed out about 500 flyers and he stood there and waited at the appointed time and very few people came to claim their prize. It cost them nothing and the price was bared by the man who offered the free gift!

Jesus offered us a free gift too, eternal life! It cost us nothing but cost him everything! The Christian life isn’t easy, when we accept Jesus we are not no longer affected by toil and strife, we will still have earthly issues distracting and getting us down. So Paul is correct, we do toil and strive in this life, being a Christian doesn’t mean an easy life it means that we are forgiven in our sins and will still have issues.

But this life is no longer the end of the road for us; we have our hope set on a heavenly existence eternally with our creator God, for me it sounds awesome and a much better alternative to an existence in the lake of fire!

From my point of view, I have tried a life of sin and it left me really unfulfilled, when I was in alcohol I had a temporary high (that felt good, I am not going to lie) and then came a huge low (when the after effects kicked in) it profited me little as I was destroying myself and it also had no heavenly value.

Which is the question I leave you with, do you live your life in a way that has eternal worth? All that the earth offers, wealth, fame, fortune, notoriety none of that will matter when you pass from this earth, as Greg Laurie says “you don’t ever see a U-Haul following a funeral car!” Which is the truth, you can’t take it with you! What will your legacy be? Will it be a life lived for you or a life lived for Christ?

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.