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Light and Not Heat (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

Light and Not Heat (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
By Dr. Andy Woods

Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of 2 Timothy, taking a look this morning at 2 Timothy 2:24-26, as time permits. The title of our message this morning is Light and Not Heat. Of course, we’re in the midst of a study through the book of 2 Timothy which is basically about competing the race that God has set before us, in terms of different things He’s called us to do. Of course, Timothy had a huge calling; he was basically put in a position of authority over the church at Ephesus by Paul, and was told to be the pastor of that church.

So there were times of encouragement, there were times of discouragement, there were valleys and peaks, most likely the kind that you experience in your life, depending on your calling or where God has you. But Timothy was really one of those valley times. We’ve kind of explained the reasons for that and he was thinking about just quitting. So this book, in essence, is written by Paul from prison, as his last word and testament to Timothy to encourage this young man to fulfill his task in God.

We have been spending our time the last several Sundays in chapter 2 and we’re coming near the end of chapter 2, we may actually finish chapter 2 today, although I can’t promise that. But these are basically a series of metaphors, about ten of them here, showing young Timothy what endurance looks like: the metaphor of a teacher, the metaphor of a soldier, an athlete, a farmer, even the example of Christ and Paul, and then Paul gives Timothy a trustworthy statement, then the metaphor of a workman; last week the metaphor of a vessel sanctified unto God for the Master’s use.

And we come now to our tenth word picture and that’s the metaphor, or word picture, of a servant. So here’s sort of a little outline that we can put together as we look at this metaphor of a servant. We have what is a servant, verse 24. And then verses 25-26 is a description of why become a servant unto God. And as I’ll try to show you this morning, the decision you make as a Christian on becoming a servant the way it’s described in verse 24, puts you into the realm of spiritual warfare. It puts you into the angelic conflict, because what you’ll discover is God wants to use servants to accomplish His work, verse 25, and hinder the devil’s work, verse 26. But God doesn’t just use anybody, He uses those that He calls servants, that fit the description of servants under His power, given in verse 24. So that basically is the direction that these few verses move in.

Let’s go ahead and start off with verse 24, what is a servant? We throw this word around quite a bit but what does the word “servant” actually mean? Notice verse 24 as Paul describes a servant to Timothy. “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wrong.”

Notice how Paul starts off verse 24; he uses this word “bond-servant.” Now actually that may not even be the best translation. The Greek translation, “bond-servant,” comes from the Greek word doulos, a doulos is more than just a servant, a doulos is a slave. Paul, many times in his ministry and in his writings called himself a slave unto Christ.

For example, in Romans 1:1 it says, this is how Paul begins the book without touting his credentials, he instead describes his status as a slave unto Christ. “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus…” So Timothy, the first thing you need to understand is that you are a slave, or translated sometimes “bond-servant” unto Christ. What kind of people does God use in the angelic conflict to advance His own purposes and to hinder Satan’s purposes. He uses those that are slaves unto the Lord Jesus Christ.

To understand this word “slave” it is modified, it says, “the Lord’s bond-servant,” not just a slave but a slave unto Christ. A slave, of course, would be somebody who has really no rights or will of their own, rather their life totally consists of being inscripted for their master’s use. Now a lot of times in our culture we look at this word “slave” and we say I don’t want any part of this; slavery has a negative connotation and in America it does and it should. So we look at this and we say well, all this Christianity stuff is great but I don’t want to be a slave unto Christ, call me something else.

Well, the fact of the matter is biblically every single human being today, alive on planet earth, is a slave to something. We are all slaves, either to the old nature, or to the new nature. Jesus, in John 8:34 says, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (NIV) See, when people get involved in sin they like to promote it as freedom.

Let me tell you something; being addicted to pornography is not freedom, being addicted to drugs is not freedom. Being addicted to materialism is not freedom. It is slavery. And God seeks to set us free of the things that once enslaved us. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son of man sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)

So as a newborn creature in Christ Jesus I have a constant choice to make. Am I going to go back to the sin nature, masquerading itself as freedom, which in reality is nothing more than servitude or bondage, or am I going to submit the members of my body to Christ Jesus. Either option is slavery.

Romans 6:16 say, “Do you not know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves you are slaves of the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin which leads unto death, or obedience which leads to righteousness.” (NIV)

So slavery, apparently is not an option for any of us. I’m either a slave to the sin nature at any moment in time, which yes, brings some temporary pleasure, but ultimately leads to death. Or I am a slave at any moment in time to the Lord Jesus Christ, which brings forth the fruit of righteousness.

So Timothy, the first thing I want you to understand in this metaphor of the bond-servant is the type of person that God is going to use is the slave, the slave unto righteousness, the slave unto Christ. Now what does a slave, a bond- servant, a doulos, unto Christ look like? Notice verse 24, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome.” Now this flows very nicely out of verse 23 because Timothy was to avoid (you remember last week), avoiding superficial conversations that “produce quarrels.” You’ll see “quarrels” there at the end of verse 23, and so this subject of quarrels prompts in Paul’s mind this metaphor of a bond-servant unto the Lord who must not be quarrelsome.

You know, there are so many people, even in the Christian world that are very cantankerous people; it’s almost like they are ready for a rumble on any given subject at any point in time. The name we used to give for some of these people are “fighting fundies,” people not just standing for truth, which is a wonderful thing to do, but people looking for an argument. And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be that way. Well how should he be? Or she? “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome,” but look at this, “but be kind…”

You know, the Bible has a lot to say about not just what we say but how we say it. 1 Corinthians 13:2 says this, “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (NIV) Ephesians 4:15 tells us to “Speak the truth in” what? “love.” And in fact, Ephesians 4, when you understand that context is basically telling us speaking “the truth in love” is a sign of maturity in Christ. I find speaking the truth is the easy part, speaking it in love is more difficult. Very few seem to be able to master that.

It’s totally possible to win an argument with somebody but lose a heart. Sadly I’ve done this many times; I’ve become so aggressive in an argument that I’ve lost the person because of the manner in which I conducted myself. And I remember one time I was just really bent out of shape about something at the school that I work at and it’s not that I didn’t have a valid concern, but I went into one of the senior professors there, Dr. Steve Sullivan who has a great walk with the Lord and has been there for a long time, and I went in to his office and I was just piping mad about something and I remember telling him what I was going to tell the administration. And I aggressively laid out my case before Dr. Sullivan, thinking he would just jump right on board and applaud me because of the righteousness of my cause…right?

And he just kind of sat there, very patiently and listened, and then when I was done with my sermon he said something that was very convicting. He says, well, you know, it’s not really what you say that’s going to be the issue, it’s how you’re going to say it. That’s all he said. And that sort of has stuck with me looking at these verses about being quarrelsome; it’s sometimes not what we say but it’s how we say it, “speaking the truth in love.”

Two of my political heroes and I just use these two for illustrative purposes, one of them is Barry Goldwater and the other one is Ronald Reagan. When you look at those two individuals they essentially spoke the same message, the same kind of themes is what they spoke, and yet Barry Goldwater lost an electoral landslide in 1964. Ronald Reagan, in 1980 and then into 1984, the opposite happened, he won an electoral landslide. And people have looked at those two elections, 1964, 1980, 1984, and said well, how was there such a difference when the message of both men was identical. And there’s lots of different theories on it but one commentator had something interesting to say, which has always stuck with me, he said what Goldwater spoke with a scowl Reagan spoke with a smile. And isn’t it interesting how a cheerful heart, a cheerful word makes a heart glad. And I remember even in college a lot of my professors just hated Reagan because of his policies but so many of them hated his policies but actually liked him as a person because of the manner in which he spoke, the manner in which he conducted himself.

This is the sort of thing that Paul, I believe, is getting at here when he says, “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind.” (2 Timothy 3:24) You know, the gospel is offensive enough, it is not? In fact, Paul, in Galatians 5:11 calls the gospel an offense, a stumbling block. (Galatians 5:11, “Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.”) The message in and of itself is offensive because it’s in assault on human pride. And I fear that many times we add an unneeded offense because of the way we present it to people.

So “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but he must be kind,” now don’t let that last little clause or that middle clause there escape you, “kind” to who? Kind to those who agree with him? No, it doesn’t say that. Kind to those who treat him or her nicely? No, it doesn’t say that. It’s very clear, it says “kind to all.” You know, the mafia is kind to people that are nice to them. Kindness is not tested based on who’s nice to you, who agrees with you, who treats you properly; kindness is tested based on our reaction to people that are mean-spirited toward us…“kind to all.”

And then he goes on describing this servant, “kind to all” and he says here, verse 24, “able to teach,” so the Lord’s bond-servant must present himself or herself in a truthful manner, but in a kind manner, but they must be accurate in how they biblically present material. This is a difficult calling, to be biblical and loving. I think it’s easy to be biblical if you don’t care about being loving. I think it’s easy to be loving if you don’t care about being biblical. But to be both, that’s the type of person that God uses in the great angelic conflict that’s going to be described for us in these verses: the ministry of teaching the Word of God.

In fact, this word, “teaching” here, didaktikos, basically that means skillful teaching. And there are different derivations of that root many times in Paul’s letters but this specific word is only found one other time in Paul’s writings, it’s something that he has already referenced in 1 Timothy, and in 1 Timothy 3, as Paul is laying out the qualifications for elders in a church this is what Paul says. 1 Timothy 3:2, “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled,” and then it says, “able to teach.” (NIV) Same word.

One of the things that God desires to happen in His church is the ministry of teaching the Word of God. For a very long time I have felt this, that the church of Jesus Christ, in general, has been preached to death. We have all heard all sorts of preaching but what is lacking in many circles is the teaching of the Word of God, the showing of people who are blood-bought saints how to live in Christ, how to think, how to behave. And that is something that we will never grow out of because we always will have room for further growth and edification. And so consequently the teaching ministry of the church is to be foremost in any assembly.

And if there are two ministries the devil hates there are these two: number 1, intercessory prayer; the devil, as the saying goes, trembles when we’re on our knees. And the second ministry I believe that Satan hates, more than any other ministry is the ministry of teaching the Word of God. The Sadducees, the opponents of the early church, hated the teaching of the Word of God. Who were the Sadducees, well, the Sadducees were always sad you see, because they are enemies of God. And this is what it says in Acts 4:18 when they began to persecute the early church, it says: “Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” (NIV)

We can put up with a lot these Sadducees said, but I don’t want you guys, you apostles, Peter and John in this case, speaking, and we certainly don’t want you teaching about Jesus. And you begin to discover this the moment God puts you into the position of a teacher, how the devil tries to derail you constantly from your task. And yet the teaching of the Word of God is something that is pivotal to the development of the Christians in that particular church. In fact, it’s so critical that he includes here, in verse 24, “kind to all, able to teach,” and then notice this last clause in verse 24, “patient when wronged.” Not when wrong but when “wronged,” in other words, when someone wrongs you, the Lord’s bond-servant must in those circumstances be patient.

I looked up this word patience and I looked it up impatiently, “Lord give me patience and give it to me right now”, as the saying goes. What does patience mean? It means enduring difficulties without becoming angry or upset. So frequently we endure difficulties but we do it with a grudging spirit, we do it with a bitter spirit, we do it in a way where we’re internally upset at this, that or the other. And that’s really not what patience is; it is enduring difficulties without allowing your emotions to become negative.

Patience is one thing, but notice it says there, at least in the New American Standard Bible, “patient when wronged.” What are we like when people mistreat us, abuse us? That’s how you test patience. You don’t test patience when people treat you properly and respectfully; you test patience when people abuse you, say all kinds of evil manner against you, spread rumors against you, criticize you for things that may not even be within your control. That’s how you test patience and whether we respond, by God’s grace, in those circumstances determines whether we qualify to be the type of bond-servant that God wants to use in spiritual warfare.

After all, isn’t patience, when wronged, isn’t that what Jesus was all about? What did Jesus say as one of His final words on the cross? As a human being was being mistreated, perhaps more than any other human being in the history of the world, what was His final words on the cross. He said a number of things but one of His statements was, you know the verses very well, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Patient when wronged, He didn’t say I’m going to get every one of you when I come back the second time; you just wait till the book of Revelation is written, then you’re going to see Me coming back with vengeance and a sharp sword is going to come out of My mouth and all that apocalyptic stuff which is all true also. But it’s very interesting, He said, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.”

You know, this idea of patient when wrong as a reflection of God’s nature, it’s all over the Scripture when you start looking for it. You think of the days of Noah, where the people in the days of Noah, prior to the flood, were involved in corruption, violence, blood was being shed, and God, the Apostle Peter tells us, waited patiently in the days of Noah. Patient when wrong. (1 Peter 3:20, “to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water”)

In fact, God’s patience was so expansive that Genesis 6:3 tells us that God waited patiently for one hundred and twenty years, (NASB “Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’” “Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’”) That’s a long time, that’s about half the duration of the United States of America. While people were involved in despiteful behavior and offenses against God. When we are patient when wronged we are exhibiting Christlikeness in its highest degree, and that’s what God desires to see in His servants.

These, I don’t believe, are attributes that we conjure up through human power and will power and white-knuckling it and self-discipline, these are things that the Lord will reproduce in us as we walk moment by moment according to the Spirit of God who is within us, and we say no to the perpetual yearnings of the old nature. So that’s what a servant is, I mean, there’s so many descriptors here.

Now the next question is why become a servant? The answer is usability. First of all, God wants to use servants to further His purposes; that’s in verse 25; secondly, God wants to use servants to hinder Satan’s work. So let’s notice the first of these incentives, take a look, if you will, at verse 25, continuing on with servant imagery, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.”

Timothy, you have been fortified with all sorts of apostolic arguments; you are my son in the faith, Paul says, but the goal of your knowledge is not to pound people so far into the ground that they’ll never see the light of day again. (“To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” 1 Timothy 1:2, NIV)

Peter talks about this, he says, “But in your hearts revere” or sanctify “Christ as Lord. Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that lies within you” and people usually cut the verse off right there, because that’s the famous apologetic verse, apologia in Greek means defense of the faith. I can’t tell you how many people I know quote that verse but they leave off that little clause at the end there, what does the rest of it say: “But do this this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”)

Peter, like Paul, is saying it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that is significant as well. If you start studying this word, “gentleness” it’s interesting how it’s used constantly in tasks that God expects of His leaders. For example, how do you restore the erring brother or sister. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one” now most people stop reading the verse right there, but what does the rest of it say, “in a spirit of gentleness…” Restoration, when it comes to that is to be conducted with “a spirit of gentleness.”

Matthew 7:5 is the famous verse where Jesus tells people to take the log out of their own eye before they take the speck out of their brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5 says, “…first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (NASB) How do you take the speck out of somebody’s eye in the world of ophthalmology, optometry, medicine? It’s not something you rush into, it’s something you must do with great delicacy and surgical precision. In other words, it’s something that must be done with a spirit of gentleness.

What does the Lord require of His servants? That they’re patient when wronged, “with gentleness”…with gentleness. Proverbs 15:1 says this: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (NASB) You don’t believe Solomon there when he wrote that? Test it out this week. Let’s say you’re having a disagreement with your spouse or somebody in your business, you say to the person who disagrees with you, you’re a liar; or you say to the same person, you know, I respect your viewpoint but I see things a little differently and here’s why. If you do that latter rather than just coming out and calling someone a liar, we all know that those are going to invoke two totally separate reactions from people. And this is the kind of thing that Paul is dealing with here. “A gentle word turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

And in this electronic world that we’re living in, with e-mails and posts and messages, it’s so easy hiding behind a screen, without seeing eye contact with someone, to speak a very harsh word. You know, we say things in our little electronic cocoons that we probably would never ever say face to face. Everybody is brave behind a computer, you’ll notice. And you’ll notice that this would apply to us, therefore in this time period that we’re living in, probably more than anybody else that’s ever lived, because we have the ability through harsh rhetoric to stir people’s emotions. If you want to make a fool of yourself electronically you have unlimited options to do that today. And we, I put myself in this category as well, we should be very careful about the words that we are choosing. I’m not saying don’t stand for truth, I’m saying it’s how we say things is just as significant as what we say.

Now who do you show patience towards, verse 25, “with gentleness” correcting those who are in opposition? Why would Timothy have to understand these interpersonal skills? Because there were people in the church opposing Timothy. Paul never says these people have a point, Timothy, you ought to think about what they’re saying. You get the idea that Timothy is being challenged by people unfairly. In fact, that goes with the territory. The greater you go in your walk with God, the greater you go in your usability before God is the more and more people you will discover are opposed to you.

Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:12 is going to highlight this, he says, “In fact, everyone who seeks to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” So Timothy, there are going to be opponents, there are going to be detractors and I want you to exercise this attitude of gentleness, even in the midst of detractors, because the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome. And something else that is very helpful is when you get critics, or detractors, and if I’m reading my Bible right you should have them if you’re doing things correctly, it’s important to look at them, not as so much opposing you but opposing God. The world hates God and if you are accurately reflecting the light of God in your life, the very people that hate God suddenly start to hate you.

I’m reminded of 1 Samuel 8:7, this is a setback for Samuel because the people did not want to wait on God, they wanted a king of their own choosing and they wanted it right now. And Samuel, the prophet, I think got his feelings hurt, to some extent, I think he took it personally. And I’m reminded of what God says to Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:7, “The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.” (NASB)

See, you can step out at your place of employment or in your family and do something that you feel the Holy Spirit is calling you to do, you can do it in the right way and the right manner and still be criticized for it. And in those circumstances it’s so easy to take it personally, but it’s not personal against you, it’s personal against God. If the world hates God it stands to reason that the life that is reflecting the light of God would also be hated. This is why Jesus says, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you.” If the world is applauding everything you do you might want to rethink, are you in the will of God or not.

But you’ll notice also here that the servant of God is not a pushover. He’s not one of these types of people that is to say well, everybody can just say whatever they want, think whatever they want, do whatever they want because as these people are opposed to Timothy, he is to, you’ll see it in verse 25, correct them. Notice what it says, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition.” Timothy, stand for the truth, but do so with a gentle, non-quarrelsome spirit.

Some people are just pushed over, over everything, and that’s not what God calls His servants to do. Other people are so aggressive in standing ground that they react in a volatile manner; that’s not the call of the servant either. It’s “speaking the truth in love.” Now why do this? Because you become in scripted into the angelic conflict. The moment the Spirit begins to replicate in you the characteristics of a servant you become part of the great spiritual war that is taking place over the hearts and minds of people.

Verse 25, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” Look at this expression here, “repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” What is the goal as you interact with those in opposition? It is “repentance” in them, “leading to the knowledge of the truth.” That’s what the end game is; it’s not to defeat them in an argument, it is for a heartfelt change of repentance to occur.

Now this word “repentance” is the Greek word metanoeō, meta means change, meta means change, as in metamorphosis, a change or your cancer has metastasized, which is never a good thing, by the way, from a health point of view it’s changed from one part of your body to another. And then you have this word noeō, where we get the word notion, or idea which comes out of the mind. What is repentance? It is change of mind. It’s a change of outlook. It’s a change of heart. It’s a change of conviction. That’s what God wants to do through you as a servant.

And if you are dealing with unbelievers God wants to use you as a servant in such a way that they change their minds about Jesus. In other words, they quit trusting in themselves and they trust exclusively in Christ. That’s a conversion; it’s a synonym for faith or believe. You can read on your own these quotes from Lewis Sperry Chafer, who tells us that.

When you evangelize the lost we don’t tell them to repent and believe, two things, we tell them to believe which properly defined is also to repent, because when you stop trusting in religiosity and trust in Christ you are believing, but also simultaneously you’ve just changed your mind, metanoeō.

Synonyms, different words, same meaning; it’s very confusing today because people say you’ve got to repent and believe, or you’ve got to believe and repent and they don’t unpack what repentance is. So your average person out there thinks that they have to do some sort of work because they don’t know anything about Greek and they’re defining repentance by how it’s used in the 21st century and so we’re teaching a very confused garbled gospel; that’s my plug for Wednesdays, where we’re trying to iron out some of these things, 7:00 to 8:00. 6:00 to 7:00 physical food; 7:00 to 8:00 spiritual food, or online. All right, enough commercials.

So the goal with these unbelievers is to get them to repent so that they can come to a knowledge of the faith. But what I want you to see is I don’t think Paul here is primarily talking about Timothy’s interaction with unbelievers because Timothy is a pastor of a church. This is the third pastoral letter written to Timothy, teaching him how to pastor a church. So Timothy is, no doubt, dealing with believers. Even believers whose minds have not been reprogrammed because they have not submitted (in many cases) to the authority of the Word of God, they have not read through the Word of God, you’ll discover that many Christians still think like pagans.

This is why Romans 12:2 as a command to the brethren, believers, tells us to perpetually renew our minds. (Romans 12:2 , “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”)

So Timothy, you’re going to be interacting, not just with unbelievers but believers; you’re going to have the opportunity as a servant of God to get these Christians who don’t think the right way to start thinking properly. What is God’s goal for you? It is so you “repent” which is a synonym for saying believe on Jesus Christ to be saved. Then what is God’s goal for you? God’s goals continue because He wants your mind renewed, which will not happen automatically. If it happened automatically then there would be no sense in Paul giving a command in Romans 12:2 to the brethren to renew their minds.

And the degree to which your mind is renewed is your familiarity with this book, the Bible, and your willingness to apply it moment by moment. If that’s not happening in your life then your mind is not being renewed. A lot of people have one verse of Scripture that they know, John 3:16, (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”) Okay, if that’s all your know your mind is only renewed by that verse. It’s not until you become familiar with all 66 books and begin to diligently study the full counsel of the Word of God that the mind will start changing as the Mapsco tells you when you’re lost. What does it say? Recalibrating. I mean, I’m driving way off point. And it keeps saying “recalibrating, recalibrating,” and it gets so irritating you want to shut the whole thing off.

What is God’s goal for your mind? It is recalibrating. Just because you’re saved doesn’t mean your mind doesn’t still think like a pagan. You think all of the baggage that the world system has put into you and your sin nature has consumed over all of the years prior to your conversion,, do you think that baggage just disappears instantaneously? Of course not! The mind has to be renewed. And there are many people in the body of Christ whose minds have not been renewed. They still think the old way on a great number of subjects. Those are the people, Timothy, that will be in opposition to you and you just need to be patient with them with the end goal that God will lead them unto repentance, a change of mind toward a knowledge of the truth.

Now who causes the repentance? See, we think that’s our job, but that’s not what the passage says. Verse 25, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition,” watch this, “if perhaps God may grant them repentance…” “…if perhaps God might grant them repentance.” Who causes repentance? It’s God and not us. But He uses us, doesn’t He. He uses us as His instruments to cause repentance in people if we emulate, through His Spirit, the characteristics of a servant. But ultimately at the end of the day it’s God that causes a change of mind.

Now when you repent unto God, let me ask you a question: what attribute of God most causes us to repent? Is it His wrath? Is it His anger? Perhaps that does cause repentance in a great many people, but what does Romans 2:4 say? It is “His kindness” which leads us “to repentance.” (Romans2:4, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”)

What really causes a repentant heart is seeing the goodness of God, the grace of God, not the anger and wrath of God, although many people do get saved, praise the Lord, by understanding His wrath. But Romans 2:4 says it is “His kindness” that leads us “to repentance.” I was just fixated on that verse yesterday and I kept playing that song by…I forgot the name of the performer, I think her last name is Phillips, where she’s singing “it is His kindness that leads us unto repentance.” And if the Lord wants to use you to change the mind, either of an unbeliever or a believer, what part of your character will God use to produce that change. If it is His kindness that leads us to repentance then what is God going to use to change the mind of either a very carnal Christian or an unbeliever? It is seeing in you the same attribute of kindness.

That’s why it says here over and over again, he must be “patient when wronged,” he must be “patient,” correcting those in opposition, he must not be quarrelsome. If it’s his kindness that leads us to repentance who does God use to change the minds of people? He uses the servant who is committed, not just to speaking the truth, but “speaking the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15, “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.”)

Now you’re in the role of a servant and does that guarantee that everybody around you is going to repent and change their mind? That’s not what the verse says. It’s not a promise, it says “if perhaps God may grant them repentance.” “…if perhaps” maybe God will use it, maybe He won’t. But you just make yourself available. In fact, this word “grant” in the Greek language is in the subjunctive mood, which is the mood of possibility; maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t. But don’t worry about it because it’s not your job any way to create it; it’s God’s job. You focus on these characteristics of servanthood, letting the Spirit of God reproduce those in your life.

See, whether we become servants the way God calls us to depends on whether God’s purposes are going to be advanced in our lives either over unbelievers or wayward Christians. And as we become servants do you know who we deal a setback to as God allows it? “the devil.” And that’s what’s described in verse 26, “and they may come to their senses” talking about these unrepentant people, “that they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

Notice this expression regarding Timothy’s opponents, “that they may come to their senses.” These people, Timothy, that are opposing you are not in their right mind. Their mental faculties are not thinking biblically, logically nor rationally. There is something greater than themselves influencing them and he tells us what that force is in verse 26 when he says that they may “escape from the snare of the devil.” “…the devil.” I think Keith Green has a song where Satan is boasting in this song as Keith Green narrates, and Satan is boasting because there’s a line in the song which says, “no one believes in me anymore.”

A lot of people don’t even think the devil exists. Sadly, many systems of theology teach that the devil is bound now; it’s called amillennialism. I like the title of Hal Lindsay’s book myself; here’s the title, great title, great book too, but the title is really good: Satan, Alive and Well on Planet Earth. The devil is alive and well, not only outside the church but he is wreaking a tremendous havoc in the church, many times in the mind of the blood-bought saint.

In other words, Satan is so active that some people are actually in a snare or a trap. Think of a bear caught in one of those bear traps where that steel comes upon the bear’s foot and the bear is in pain and he tries to get loose but he can’t because he’s in this snare, he’s in the trap. That is how people are; that’s where the whole subject of spiritual warfare comes in. There are men and women outside the church, there are Christians inside the church with a pagan mindset that literally have that steel trap over their leg where they cannot escape. In fact, in most cases they don’t even realized they’re trapped, that’s how deceptive the devil is, because after all, no one believes in him anymore.

It’s a different way of looking at opponents, isn’t it? There is something greater than themselves holding them back. That’s why you need to be patient with them, and not be quarrelsome with them, and to speak the truth in love to them because they are not in their right minds. These opponents, Timothy, that you are facing are actually victims. You know, when someone opposes me I don’t look at them as a victim; I look at them as the enemy. Biblically they’re not the enemy; biblically they’re victims. And that’s why our prayer life becomes so significant.

See, you can’t yell at them, you can’t scream at them, you can’t out logic them, you can’t send them Facebook posts that go fifteen paragraphs expecting to convince them because they don’t even have the rational faculties to understand what it is you’re saying. What you need to do is be loving towards them, “speaking the truth in love,” because it is His kindness that leads us unto repentance. Should God grant them repentance it will be that attribute of kindness that God sees in you that they see in you, because it’s His kindness that leads us unto repentance. (Romans 2:4, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”)

This is one of the great problems of so-called evidential apologetics. Apologetics means defense of the faith; I’m pro apologetics, let’s get the arguments down, let’s defend the faith, let’s offer them a reason for the hope that lies within us. (“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” 1 Peter 3:15, KJV) But you see, the problem is we think that if we just align the arguments the right way and appeal to the mind we can get them saved.

The fact of the matter is, evidential apologetics doesn’t comprehend this issue of spiritual warfare that even if you presented the best possible case, ironclad, tight logic, right from the Bible, they will take that argument and they will distort it because they’re in a trap and they’re not in their right senses. And I’m not bashing evidential apologetics; I think apologetics has its place and has its time. My problem is people who place such an emphasis on it that they are not understanding the spiritual warfare component of the whole thing.

And they are being, verse 26, at the end of the verse, after he talks about this snare, “having been held captive by him to do his will.” “Captive,” what does that mean? It means they’re in bondage. Now we understand this with unbelievers fairly well; unbelievers are in bondage, 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they cannot see the light of the gospel.” It’s not that they will not see it, “they cannot see” it; spiritual things to them are veiled because Satan has worked so aggressively in their minds that he’s actually blinded them. The capacity of the devil for deception is almost, from the human point of view unlimited.

In fact, the devil is so good at deception that Revelation 12:9 says the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. (Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”) He is so good at it that he’s got the whole world confused. The capacity of Satan to deceive!

Do you know Satan deceived a third of the angels, that stand in the very presence of God, into rebelling with him against an all-powerful God? Do you know Satan deceived himself in that process? Did you know that Satan deceived Adam and Eve before sin had ever entered the picture? When they were still in a perfect relationship with God the devil came and deceived them. If the devil has this capacity for deception what could he do with the unbelievers that are “dead in their trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” NIV)

What could he do in the church, filled with people whose minds have not been recalibrated? We, because we don’t believe in Satan anymore, underestimate his deceptive power and his ability. And my goodness, if he can do this to unbelievers could he do it to a believer? You bet! You know, Peter made a statement one day, “who do men say that I am?” (Mark 8:27, “Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, ‘Who do people say that I am?’”) Peter, the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth raised his hand like Horshack in Welcome Back Kotter. I know the answer — and Jesus said “Get behind me Satan,” you just spoke a devil’s deception. Matthew 16:21-23.

(Matthew 16:21-23, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. [22] Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” [23] But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’”)

You know right at the beginning of the age of the church, in early Acts, Satan immediately starts deceiving God’s people. We run into a couple of people named Ananias and Sapphira who got slain in the Holy Spirit, which is not a good thing, I hope you know,

(Acts 5:1, “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, [2] and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet [3] But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? [4] ‘While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.’ [5] And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.”)

Ananias, how is it, Peter says, that Satan has “filled your heart.” The Greek word for heart is plēroō, it’s the same verb used in Ephesians 5:18 to describe the command that the believer should be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit”) Just as the Holy Spirit wants to fill a believer Satan came into this church and he filled a heart full of deception, to such a degree that these two were struck dead by God. People say well, they weren’t Christians. Well, number 1, what were they doing in church? Number 2, Acts 5:11 says great fear seized the whole church. Why was the church afraid? Because they figured out, wow, God is serious about sin amongst us. That’s why they are afraid. (Acts 5:10, ”And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. [11] And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.”)

An unbeliever gets killed by God, so what? But if God disciplines His own people sometimes that severely, to the point of death, takes them home early, these two (Ananias and Sapphira) were Christians.

Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” that’s why I’ve always wanted to move to Alaska, [laughter] “…do not let the sun go down on your anger, [27] do…” This is very clear, you look at this in context, it’s talking to believers, “do not give the devil a foothold.” The Christian can cater to the sin nature and give the devil a foothold; that’s why Romans 12:2 says we need our minds renewed. (Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”)

Are you dressed for success? That’s why there’s the command regarding the various pieces of armor in Ephesians 6, including the helmet which protects the what? The mind. If I was invincible to Satan’s devices there would be no need for this command, would there, to “put on the full armor of God.”

“…having been held captive by him to do his will.” You know, I think too much of our theology comes from Star Wars; there’s the light side, The Force, and there’s the dark side, use The Force Luke, don’t yield to the dark side. Many people look at Satan as the dark side, just some kind of impersonal source of energy. And may I just say to you, number 1, the devil exists, the Old Testament describes him many places; every writer of the New Testament speaks of the devil, and Christ, 25 times talks about the devil.

And then number 2, Satan has the elements of personhood, for example, when the Bible refers to Satan it calls him “he” or “him,” a personal pronoun. Satan, when you look at those Scriptures, has intellect, emotions, and what’s the third one there, “will.” It’s right here in this passage, “having been held captive by him to do his will.” (Satan has intellect, 2 Corinthians 2:11, “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” Emotions, Revelation 12:12, “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” Revelation 12:17, “So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Will, 2 Timothy 2:26, “and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”) Satan is not an impersonal source of energy, his personality is just as real as yours or mine is and he actually has a will.

Well, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life…fantastic! Do you know the other side of that? Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life. What’s Satan’s plan for your life? Jesus tells us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;” why is it that these people are in bondage and need prayer? Because they are held captive by Satan to do Satan’s will. What is Satan’s will? “To steal, kill and destroy.” That’s why they need prayer.

But what’s the other side of this: I came that they may have life and have it to the full. (“…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10) What’s God’s plan for your life? Life abundantly! What is Satan’s plan for your life? To steal, kill and destroy. That’s why, Timothy, as you are interacting with people outside the church and inside the church you are in the midst of an angelic conflict. God wants to use you through an attribute of kindness, to liberate from bondage men and women. The job of repentance and liberation is not your job, God says, it’s My job, but I’ll use you as My vessel if you cooperate with Me in this realm of being a servant.

WOW! A lot to think about, huh! Are you a servant? Look at verse 24. Why become a servant? Verses 25-26, God wants to use you to assist His work, verse 25 and He wants to use you to hinder the devil’s work.

(2 Timothy 2:4, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, [25] with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, [26] and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”)

May God help us this week at Sugar Land Bible Church as God’s people to press into this calling to servanthood, and become enlisted in the great conflict that is happening over the hearts and minds of people. You know it’s possible you could be here today and never have repented ever in Christ. You’ve never really changed your mind about Christ, you’ve never, in other words, believed in Christ, never trusted in Him. And if that describes you, you can change your eternal destiny right now as I’m speaking. Through a simple act of the will you can transfer your allegiance from self, religion, self-righteousness, exclusively to the promises of Jesus Christ. It’s not something you have to raise a hand to do, walk an aisle to do, join a church to do, pray a prayer to do, if you want to pray, wonderful, but that’s not a condition. The condition is faith, “for without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”)

Even as the Spirit of God places you under conviction our exhortation to you, if you’re an unbeliever, is to respond to that convicting ministry of the Spirit and trust in Christ and Christ alone for salvation. And then grow in servanthood and watch how God will use you to advance His purposes and to defeat the agenda of Satan over the minds of people. Shall we pray.

Father, we’re grateful for this truth and the things that it reminds us of. Help us to take seriously this issue of servanthood. We’ll ask that You’ll use us this week as servants to advance Your purposes upon the earth. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name. God’s people said…Amen.

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