Expository preaching from 2 Timothy 3:2, delivered June 4th, 2017
2 Timothy 3
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
Last week we began looking at this paragraph, and today we continue in it, looking at this list of sinful behavior that will be prevalent in the last days. This list is one that we need to look at, need to consider as we regularly evaluate our lives.
This letter is written by Paul, a pastor and apostle, to Timothy, a pastor of the church at Ephesus. The context of this writing is the church. Paul is concerned about how some people are conducting themselves in the church, specifically how false teachers are behaving in the church.
I mentioned last week that people do not usually become wholly connected to any of these behaviors just overnight, but that most begin delving into some of these behaviors and attitudes and they then slowly adopt them as a way of life. And since this is true, we as Christians should keep our thoughts, attitudes, and actions in check and evaluate regularly where we are in our walk with Christ – seeking Him, seeking change through Him. We are in constant need of course correction.
It, life, is like driving a car. If you are on a straight road, a highway, have you noticed that you can’t just get that car going straight and then hold the wheel in a fixed position? You can’t. Even on a straight road, slight adjustments need to be made along the way. A slight correction to the left and then another to the right. We need these corrections in our Christian walk. Now I realize that these needed course corrections are not always slight ones, sometimes we have major need of correction, I get that, but at a minimum for everyone, slight corrections are in order.
Do we recognize needed change? And upon recognizing needed change are we willing and ready to trust God through it? We have this list, where do we need to change?
Now, as I have looked through this list, I realize that we can view it from just a viewpoint as individuals. But remember, this was given to Timothy for the church. So let’s not just look at these only for ourselves, but also with a corporate church-wide view too.
All of the attitudes and actions listed are those that can rip a church apart. All of them are anti-biblical church. If all these things are prevalent in us as a part of a local church, and these define our ways, then we are a terribly poor and dysfunctional church. You see, these are not just sins that are about you if you are a part of this church, because as a part of the body of Christ you affect the church, and we have an effect on you. We are a congregation, and if we are all simply loving ourselves, then how can we ever function as a body for the glory of God and the good of others? If we are all lovers of money, then who will give to the church? If we are all proud, then who will serve? If we are all arrogant, then who will care for others? Maybe we are not all one of these, but if we are all defined by some of these, then how will we do as a body, as a church? We, you, do have an effect on others here just like in your family. We are not independent of each other. We can have great effect on the church, either good or bad. And so I want you to think about that, think about the importance of the church and its functions. Where do you fit in and how are you doing where God has placed you? This letter was written for the church, and so let’s be sure we view it in that way as well.
Now, last week we looked at the dangers of self-love. Any of us can get caught up in self-love instead of loving God and loving others first. In fact, all of us fall into this at some time on some level, so this is pertinent for us to look at and I hope you have this last week. After loving self, the next thing Paul mentions is lovers of money.
Loving money or the things money can buy flows from loving self. This is a statement regarding materialism. It is craving earthly things, wanting stuff that money can buy – stuff that will entertain, stuff that will comfort, stuff that will make life easy, stuff that will make us look important, stuff that will give us pleasure, stuff that will make us forget about our troubles. Loving money is loving things that money will buy. The Greek word for lovers of money here is the word for covetous.
Now, we all know that money is necessary in a society. In fact, the Bible is full of instruction to us about the importance of work, and we work in order to earn money. In fact, we read that, “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat.” We are to work, and by working we earn money. But earning money and loving money are two very different things. I want you to see the contrast in loving money vs. simply having money for what we need.
1 Timothy 6
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
A desire for riches, riches beyond needs, this passage says will lead to temptation, snares, other senseless and harmful desires, and can plunge people into ruin. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some will even wander from the faith.
In the modern day American church, this is a problem. We have so much, we have been given so much. We have access to so many things that money can buy, and we are inundated with people and companies that keep telling us we need more, we need better. Too often our state of contentment we think is tied to how much we are able to gain with the money we have.
Is your happiness tied to the things you have? If so, let me tell you, you will never be satisfied. There is always more to have and we can never have it all.
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
When Paul wrote those words saying he was not in need, he was in prison living on next to nothing. He had learned not to be controlled by things or find his happiness in things. He is saying that his happiness, his contentment is not circumstantial. Things can come and go. There was a chasm between his state of being, his position and joy in Christ, and what he possessed or did not possess.
Look, I know this is hard and a real struggle for most of us. We may be lovers of money, sad to say. It may take great prayer and effort to shake this off. We may need to give this over to Christ. But here is the truth: as children of God and heirs with Christ, we have so much more that has nothing to do with money. But do we focus on what we have in Christ or don’t we?
Here is the truth of where we should be, here is where our focus is to be, here is where we live contented lives. Think on this…
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Here is what Jesus said:
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We are children of the King, we are heirs with Christ, we are reborn in Christ and our lives are in His hands. He will raise us up and we will live in peace and joy without an unfulfilled need ever. We have His promises in this life and in the life to come. He is watching over us, providing for us. He is near, He loves, He cares, we are His. Forever, we are His!
Money and possessions are temporary and not meant to satisfy us, we are to be satisfied in Christ and in Him alone. Our thinking needs to be right on this, we need to recalibrate our minds to be sure they are in line with what is true. It is difficult when we or those around us are lovers of money.
Paul next mentions that in the last days many will be proud. Proud here is one who thinks highly of himself and is given to brag about it. Each of these, as we see, is so much about self. This is the problem of false teachers of whom Paul is specifically addressing and is much of our problem as well. We get consumed with self and we become lovers of self, lovers of money because we want to have things for ourselves and we become proud thinking highly of self and bragging about self.
Our society promotes this. “Take what you want, be all you can be, look out for your own interests, you deserve it, you have a right to self-satisfaction.” All these things ring in our ears and thoughts, and as they do, they all lead to misery, they really do. To be consumed with self leads to frustration and misery. We weren’t made for this. We were made for so much more. We were made to glorify the one who is transcendentally above all and who is all-glorious, we were made to make Him known, not our lowly selves. When we make much of self we are trying to elevate what was not meant to be elevated, to prop up as great something that is not great. It is like trying to whitewash a tomb, as Jesus has said.
Anything good in us is due to Christ, and so He is the one to be lifted up. Proud people have a wrong view of themselves. Let’s be careful here. Daily, try this, daily in what ways do you try and make yourself look good? Try this, go through a day and pay attention to how you speak to yourself and to others. Are you constantly trying to make yourself out as better than others. I mean just in your own mind, and then does it come out as you speak to others? I know we can be creative here. We can be subtle in how we brag. Just a small comment here or there. Do you look in yourself and see Christ who is awesome and great, or do you simply see yourself and think you deserve people’s attention and commendation?
The test may be, how do we want others to see us? Do we demand that others think rightly of us? Your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your parents? We may even demand it. “You must think highly of me or I will punish you with my words and actions. If you don’t think highly of me I will ignore you, I will speak unkindly to you, I will put you down.” This is an epidemic, I’m afraid. The solution is, again, to recognize ourselves as lowly, as wholly dependent on another, that is Christ, and live to lift Him up, to make Him known and to let go of desires to be raised up in others’ minds.
Let’s look at one more, and it is related to pride, let’s look at arrogance. A person who is proud is also arrogant. Arrogance is about placing self above others. It is an attitude of, “Yes, I am better than you. I am a better person than you are, I am of more value than are you.” We can think that of others. “I am more educated, more gifted, I was born to a better line of people, I am better looking, faster, smarter, I have more friends, a better sense of humor, am more refined.” We can take any of these things and conclude, “I am better than you.” Once we do this, once we have elevated ourselves, we are dealing with arrogance. The classic illustration of this is found in Luke 18.
10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Pharisee was arrogant, he had a high view of himself and a low view of others. We can become really good at classifying people and people types. We can scan a room and categorize people in it, and sometimes we then approach people or not depending on how we classify and categorize them. “He is good enough for me, and he is not. She can be my friend because she meets my standards, and she cannot.” This is arrogance. “I am too good for you, you do not rise to my level” – that is arrogance.
Each of us are from the dust, each made by God in His image, each of us were born in depravity in sin. If we belong to Christ, it is because He reached down to us in our lowly state, we are not better than anyone else, and we need to not just know that, but live in that truth.
Meekness and humility stand in contrast to the proud and arrogant. We are called to the former, and we can be there in the strength of Jesus Christ.
If we are lovers of self, lovers of money, proud and arrogant, we are much more like the world of lost sinners than Jesus Christ. Our calling is to love the Lord and to be like Him. And we can be as we submit to His perfect will and put off these high thoughts of ourselves.
Our focus must be on Christ first, never on self first. We can go to Him and ask for His help with this, and He stands ready to help us. Cry out to Him, look to Him, put off these selfish ways. Confess and repent of each of these selfish tendencies and habits and believe Him when He says, “I will never leave you.” Believe as did Paul that we can obey, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Believe that you are here to glorify God, to make Him known, and trust Christ to help you live in such a way! His plan is so much bigger for any of us; don’t settle for trying to exalt yourself, for He is worthy of exaltation.
2 Timothy 3
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant,
We will stop there for this morning. Now, we get to take of the Lord’s Table this morning. As we do I want you to think about this. Taking of the Lord’s Table helps us to put off the attitudes that we have discussed today and last week. It does because taking of the Lord’s Table reminds us of the truth of who we are and who Jesus Christ is. We are reminded that we were hopeless apart from Him and His work in us. We are as nothing without Him. We lack strength without Him, we were lost and would still be lost without Him. The Lord’s Table reminds us that Jesus is our all, our Savior, our Lord and our King forever.
God has given us the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper as a gracious act in which we can commune with Him and be reminded of our great redemption, be reminded of our initial salvation as well as anticipate our final redemption when we shall worship Him in glory for all eternity.
As Christians, followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is our desire to commune with Him. To commune with Christ, the very one who purchased us with His own blood and brought us from death to life, into His glorious kingdom. The one who enables us to obey. What a honor it is that we can come to His Table and observe the Lord’s Supper that Christ Himself has instituted.