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Current study: Spiritual Warfare

20 December 2012

Week 51 - December 20

December 20
     2 Timothy 1-4

When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, he was facing certain death in Rome (2 Timothy 4:6). Even though Paul was going through a very rough time, he was concerned first for the gospel and second for his beloved colleague Timothy. We’ve seen that Timothy wasn’t always able to be assertive in his leadership, and Paul knew that Timothy would soon be the one who would give spiritual leadership to the churches, so he wrote to Timothy and remind him that with God’s help he would be successful. He also gave Timothy counsel to help him step into this larger role. These encouragements and reminders help us today as we strive to live in the center of God’s will.

God wanted Timothy (and us) to be bold in the proclamation of the Gospel.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:6-8 (ESV)

When we try to proclaim the Gospel, it’s easy to fall victim to the spirit of fear. When we proclaim the Gospel with the help of God, we speak through His power and love. Our words are controlled by Him.

What steps can we take to prepare ourselves to unashamedly present the Gospel? Prayer and study, of course.  The Holy Spirit will help and guide us.

Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:13-14 (ESV)

Timothy was going to lead the church soon, and Paul wanted to make certain that Timothy knew exactly what was expected. As minister, Timothy had specific duties and responsibilities – and these are the same duties and responsibilities YOUR pastor has. Keep him in prayer. The burden of a pastor is heavy.

·         Faithfully teach others (2:2)

·         Shares in Christ’s suffering (2:3)

·         Keeps away from worldly entanglements (2:4)

·         Magnifies Jesus and completely trusts Him (2:11)

·         Avoids gossip and irreverent talk, upholds the Word of God (2:16-18)

·         Loving and kind in his words – especially when he needs to correct:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. 2 Timothy 2:24-25 (ESV)

False teachers were already spreading heresies, and we are exhorted to turn away from those who have a “form” of religion.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:2-5 (ESV)

People have listened to Satan since the fall of man. Eve was seduced by Satan’s empty offer:

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV)

We see many “religions” that claim we can be “gods”. It’s a lie from the pit of hell! Because of Eve’s sin,

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Romans 1:24-25 (ESV)

Make sure that your church preaches the Word of God – not the Word of God “plus” something. Check everything that you’re taught against God’s Word.

Satan is an imitator. He wants to be like God, but it will never happen. He will do the next best thing – imitate. This will lead to a counterfeit faith. Does your pastor:

·         Affirm the authority of the Bible, or does he substitute human wisdom and philosophy?
·         Affirm the reality of sin and your need for salvation, or preach that “love wins” in the end, and good people will go to heaven because God is love?
·         Affirm Jesus’ virgin birth, sinless life, brutal murder and miraculous resurrection, or say that any one (or more) of those things is a myth? In 2000, Barna Research found that 33% of pastors admit that Jesus was crucified but not physically resurrected! In 1998, Jeffrey Hadden conducted a poll of Protestant clergy and found that  13% of American Lutherans, 30% of Presbyterians, 33% of American Baptists, 35% of Episcopalians, and 51% of Methodists didn’t believe in Jesus’ physical resurrection. Please be sure your pastor is grounded in the Word of God! (See Preachers who are not Believers, Evolutionary Psychology, Vo. 8, Issue 1, March, 2010, pp. 121-50 [www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP08122150.pdf ] for an eye opening article on this topic).

We defeat Satan by grounding ourselves in God’s Word. We never outgrow the need for the Word – the older we get, the more help we need!

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

What ministry does God have for you? For Paul, the ministry was to the Gentiles and was fraught with persecution. For Timothy, it was willing souls, but in a lightly different way than Paul. Your ministry is different from either of these men because God gives each of us a unique task.

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, …fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:5 (ESV)

Be faithful. Be vigilant. Make sure you are listening to a pastor who is a believer! Complete the ministry that God has for you. You can only do these things by staying in God’s Word and continually praying. I pray that this verse will remain at the top of your mind as you prepare for 2013.

See you tomorrow with the final two books before we begin Revelation. May your day be God blessed.

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