Be Diligent

2 Timothy 2:14-19

Talking with workmen out front last week; another workman passed by, did so in a way that showed great lack of consideration for others. Big truck, lots of wind and racket, only to come to screeching halt a hundred yards down the road. “Why did he have to do that? Didn’t he see us working here?” “Well, people seem to do a lot without thinking these days. At least they don’t think much about others.” “You sure got that right.”

Truth is, that’s only one example of how to act in unthinking way. Shows up in attitudes – jumping to conclusions about people or situations, reacting instead of reasoning to a solution. And then there’s speech – words that come out and the way they come out that tear down rather than build up. Really sad thing is it isn’t just those people who act like that; these people, you and me, those who claim to be followers of Lord Jesus do and think and say what is displeasing to God.

Our tendency is to do what comes naturally; should be doing what comes super-naturally, what shows active work and ministry of Holy Spirit in our lives. That doesn’t just happen, can’t just go with the flow and get it right. Must follow instructions in our text – some things we ought to avoid, some other things we ought to cultivate. To succeed at that, must exercise due diligence; must act in careful and thinking way with particular goal in mind: please God, edify one another.

A. be diligent to avoid the wrong use of God’s Word v.14, 16

strong warning given here: make sure they remember, DON’T behave this way!

first reader of this: Timothy; warning meant for him and those in his pastoral care

Timothy, put your very life on the line to make sure they understand: this is a big deal

what is it that’s such a big deal? – wrangling and arguing and fighting and quarreling about God’s Word

arguing over interpretation and application of words and principles in the Bible

particular kind of “discussion” in view here – one that tears down rather than builds up the listeners

argumentation that makes one leading argument look smart, shifting focus away from God

takes participants down rabbit hole, farther away from light and into unprofitable gloom

puts up walls and fences that divide – not from error but from brothers and sisters

when this sort comes out of rabbit hole into light of day, use God’s Word to criticize, attack, mock those who believe differently

the result: brothers don’t treat each other as brothers; Christians fail to carry out the 44 occurrences of “one another”

the church of Christ is weakened, fractured, dishonored in the community, hindered from carrying out work Christ has given her to do

In 1805, as the naval Battle of Trafalgar was about to begin off the coast of Spain, Admiral Nelson came across two officers of his own flagship who were arguing hotly and about to take sword to each other. Nelson stepped between them and said, “Stop.” Then, pointing to the French fleet, he said, “There is the enemy.”

Jesus (the living Word of God) pronounced curses on “scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites”; wasn’t afraid to use words in a hard way

but how was Jesus known?

Isaiah 61.1-2The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.”

Acts 10.38 “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

you say “I can’t heal those oppressed by the devil.” You have in your hand and heart the resources to do just that: God’s Word applied by God’s Spirit to the heart and mind of one oppressed by the devil will heal them – you are his ambassador, don’t use his word wrongly.

wrongly using the Bible leads people away from Christ, from the truth (16)

it’s not harmless talk – “godless chatter” NIV – kind of discussion that causes great harm, is contrary to God’s purpose for his Word

it’s all about human wisdom: “this is what I understand that to mean”; take this verse and that verse and another word over there and don’t forget what it says about that and see what I mean

before you know it the focus of attention: a particular doctrinal system, a set of rules crafted by men, Lord Jesus is nowhere in sight

things lead to things – that kind of speculative chatter leads to more of the same, never results in Christ-likeness

B. be diligent to cultivate the right use of God’s Word v.15

so how do we guard against all this negative stuff, things that are painfully displeasing to God?

Word Paul uses 3x: σπουδάζω (2 Tim. 2:15; 4:9; 4:21) – take it seriously, be earnest about it; contemporary: do your best, make every effort ==> study: “old” meaning = endeavor diligently

do your best, make every effort to do what? to cultivate right use of God’s Word and avoid those who use it wrongly

why was Bible given? see 2 Tim. 3:15-17read

in a word – so we can/will grow in godliness, Christ-likeness – that’s our destiny after all

Rom. 8:29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

God’s Word read by his people, taught by his servants, applied by his Spirit is primary means of sanctification

requires right approach – eager, earnest, serious effort

casual surface reading once in a while not sufficient to carry out God’s purpose

should diligently work at understanding God’s Word, using all resources he has provided us

then take it to next step: application must follow understanding; know what Bible says and means, should be followed by life-change

change in thinking, acting, speaking to be more in line with God’s standard: like Christ

should not be like James 1:23-24For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”

right relationship – seeking approval of God (first)

rightly using God’s Word means first using it on ourselves so we will be acceptable to God; requires constant diligent effort

should not be means by which individual acquires a fan club

right skills – able to handle God’s Word accurately, responsibly

skills do not come quickly or without diligent effort – just like any skill in other areas of life

must learn and practice and study and learn and practice; also true of God’s Word

especially some places: 2 Peter 3:15-16 “…our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.”

if proper interpreter of Scripture is Scripture, must have more than introductory understanding to effectively teach others

C. be diligent to avoid those who use God’s Word wrongly v.17-18

cancer, gangrene, rottenness needs no encouragement to spread, only contact

only effective remedy against any of those ills: removal – prevent ongoing contact between what is harmful and what is healthy

not the truth that’s the problem, it’s the 10%+ poison mixed with it – the wrong use of the truth that eventually leads to serious error

Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort” – an unteachable sort

“This is the guy who seems to have a lot of biblical knowledge. He can drop the 30 lb. words and effectively argue his point. Very often, he is quite involved and appears to have things together. However, he is dangerous because of the reason you would not think; he is unteachable. The most dangerous person at your church is the apparently smart guy who is unteachable.” Erik Raymond

D. be diligent to stand on the right foundation v.19

the seal, guarantee of authenticity: Salvation is of the Lord. Jonah 2:9

God sovereignly knows who are his, and, those who are his live like they are his

when is that obvious in the world?

when God’s people diligently proclaim the truth of the Gospel

when God’s people diligently live as those changed by the power of the Gospel

Bible makes something clear: salvation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Romans 10:13For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” True in OT by the way, that’s a quote from Joel 2:32. Text in Romans continues:

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom. 10:14-17

There you have God’s way of doing things: salvation is evidence of faith/belief in the One revealed in the Word of God. No Word of God, no revelation of the Savior, no basis for knowledge and accompanying faith resulting in salvation. It is “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

According to the Qu’ran, Christians are called “People of the Book”. It isn’t meant entirely as a compliment, but I’ll take it. The people of God ought to be people of the Book, his Word. It has the words of life for us, for our family members, our neighbors, the UPG’s we pray for. May God in his grace and love increase our love for his Word, our understanding and right use of it.

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