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The De-Evolution of Man, Part 3 (2 Timothy 3:4-9)

The De-Evolution of Man, Part 3 (2 Timothy 3:4-9)
By Dr. Andy Woods

Good morning everybody, if we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 3, and verse 4, maybe covering verses 4-9 today. The title of our message is The De-evolution of Man, Part 3; getting a very clear description of what people are like when they reject the knowledge of God, both outside the church and inside the church. Why bring all this up? Well, Paul is trying to communicate to Timothy, in this book called 2 Timothy, of the need to complete his calling, which is his ministry assignment. But completing that task, Timothy, is going to be difficult because there’s something coming in the last days called the apostasy of the church. And as that apostasy gains a foothold it’s going to become hard on the faithful Christian to really become what God has called them to become.

So the whole structure of the book and everything in the book relates to this subject of endurance. Chapter 1 is a call to endurance; chapter 2, which we spent quite a few Sundays in chapter 2, is about ten metaphors, or word pictures, if you will, of what endurance looks like. And then beginning in chapter 3, verse 1 through chapter 4 verse 8 he starts to talk about something called the apostasy. As we have defined it, apostasy is simply a departure from known truth. It’s not something that takes place in the world, it’s something that takes place within God’s church.

We’ve look at the characteristics of apostasy and what we have is a description of the apostasy, verses 1-9, then the antidote for apostasy beginning at verse 10 all the way through chapter 4, verse 8. We can kind of divide up this material on apostasy as follows: Paul describes the evil that is coming, verses 1-7. And then beginning at verses 8-9, if we have time we’ll look at it, he gives examples of apostasy from Old Testament history.

But it’s sort of difficult to endure in the midst of an apostasy if you don’t really understand what things, how things deteriorate morally once the apostasy comes. So that’s why you have so much of this pessimistic teaching here. Yet, if we get down to verses 8-9 there’s a note of optimism which I think we need to hear, that God is still very much in control of a world and of a church that looks out of control.

But we saw verse 1, the warning of not just difficulty that was coming but danger as well. And then he begins to describe what people will be like in the last day; they’ll have misplaced love. Instead of love of God they’ll be focused on loving themselves, loving money and loving pleasure, so narcissism, materialism, and hedonism in other words would eclipse a love of God. And beyond that people would become very prideful, verse 2. We have boastfulness, arrogance and revilers; boastful speech, a boastful attitude, and also abusive speech, a type of speech that tears down people.

And then you remember last week, verses 2-3, we ventured into the alpha privatives. You say what in the world are those? Those are Greek words that begin with the letter alpha as a negation. So people in the last days will become disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, without self-control, brutal and haters of good. And number 6 there is not an alpha privative in Greek, but I think it’s intentionally placed there because it sums up everything on that list, people would become to act just like the devil. Actually the Greek word, diabolos, is used there. And you would think that that would be enough. Right? But Paul says not quite so fast, there’s four more I’ve got to explain to you as well. So that’s where we’re getting into today, really five through seven, actually that’s probably inaccurate, four through seven is better said. So four concluding exhortations or characteristics of the last days of the apostasy.

Notice verse 4, it says, “treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of money rather than lovers of God,” it goes on and talks, in verse 5 about “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid men such as these. [6] For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins and various impulses, [7] always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Let’s look at these characteristics one by one. The first one he mentions there in verse 4 is “treacherous.” You’ll see right at the beginning of verse 4 the word “treacherous,” treacherous is better translated as a traitor, a truce breaker. Putting it in modern vernacular we would call such a person a backstabber, someone that to your face claims loyalty or friendship but behind the scenes is actually working towards your demise and doing destructive things behind your back. We might call such people users. And so it’s a characteristic of people in which they will not be bound any longer by basic loyalty.

It’s sort of interesting, when you think of somebody like this you think of the apostle Judas, don’t you. Judas and Jesus were actually friends. In fact, Psalm 41:9, written about a thousand years in advance, predicting Judas’ betrayal of Christ, says this: “Even my close friend in whom I have trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” It is interesting to me that Jesus referred to Judas as a friend, right down to the very end. And Judas took advantage of that friendship and in the process showed no loyalty whatsoever to Christ, and sold Him out to the highest bidder.

I believe that Paul, when he writes these words, is conjuring up (if I can use that expression) memories of Judas. Back in verse 2 He talked about “lovers of money,” we said when we were in verse 2 that “lovers or money” is better translated as “lovers of silver.” And that also reminds us of Judas who sold out Jesus for just a mere 30 pieces of silver. And this is an ugly characteristic of people when they get away from God; they can’t even be held to their most basic oaths and bargains.

You know, there used to be a day in this country where two people entered into a business relationship with each other, you trust their word, they trust your word; an oral contract was all that was necessary. And today, because of the basic untrustworthiness of people you have to get into these long drawn out written contracts, what if they do this, what if they do that, what if they’ve breached their agreement here or there. We are far past the day where people’s word was good. Now it’s we can’t trust each other and so we have to get everything ironed out with specific contracts. Truce-breakers, they wouldn’t even be loyal to their most basic oaths.

And look at what is happening with marriage, how people can walk the aisle and they can say in the presence of witnesses, “to death do us part,” and then within the span of a very short time they’re in divorce court. I understand that there are biblical exceptions to divorce; divorce is permissible under some circumstances, I know there are many people here that have been through divorces and I’m not seeking to pile condemnation upon you at all; I’m just trying to get us to understand the signs of the times in which we live, where even the basic oath of marriage, the basic vow one takes is not honored. You’ve seen the statistics as I’ve seen them, that the divorce rate inside the church is just as high, and in some cases higher, than what it is outside the church. We shouldn’t be surprised by that because Paul says in the last days people would essentially become treacherous, traitors, or truce breakers.

You think of people who sell out their country; they sell out patriotism to sell military secrets to somebody, and how they can’t even be loyal to their basic oath to uphold the Constitution. I’ll uphold the Constitution and I’ll protect my country until the price is right and then I’ll sell out. What a tragedy that is.

Paul goes on in verse 4 and he mentions a second characteristic, he talks about people becoming “reckless.” Verse 4, it says, “treacherous,” and then also the next word there is “reckless.” The word translated “reckless” literally is to fall forward. And every time I watch one of the cable television stations, I don’t spend a lot of time watching this particular station, their tagline is “lean forward.” And I always get a chuckle out of that because Paul says in the last days people would “lean forward,” they’re using “lean forward” to describe so-called progress. But Paul says “in the last days” people would not only “lean forward,” they would fall forward, that basically means quick to run ahead rather than to think. It’s talking about a population of people that are impulse driven; rash would be another translation of this.

Now Ed Jones mentioned the election coming up and I can’t help but weaving some of this in; one of the things that disturbs me very much about the American electorate is the fact that so many people are driven by impulses where they will listen to someone speak, we saw this actually back in 2008, and because the person sounds so good we’re driven by emotions rather than actual thought. And the same kind of thing we see happening today, where you listen to someone speak, they hit one of your emotional buttons and suddenly you’re all in for that person without actually doing any research on the individual, without actually trying to figure out what their worldview is. And this is a difficult part of humanity in the last days. It’s an outworking of the last days where people are essentially driven by impulse.

And marketers, of course, understand this, and they know how to push the buttons in people. And they can essentially control spending habits in people because they know if they push certain emotional buttons that results in more dollars for them, and people will actually lean forward, rush forward, fall forward, act rashly or impulsively, with very little research or thought in the process.

So this is quite a description of people in the last days: trucebreakers, rash, he goes on and he gives a third one here, it says verse 4, “treacherous, reckless,” notice this next word, “conceited.” Now you say wait a minute, I thought we covered that a couple of Sunday’s ago, doesn’t verse 2, in that long laundry list of names, doesn’t it talk about arrogance, so why is he mentioning “conceited” in verse 4? Well, “conceited” here is a different Greek word entirely than “arrogant” mentioned back in verse 2.

Here are some of the ways that this word has been translated: wrapped in the smoke, head in the clouds, not connected to the rest of the world or reality, “conceited” to the point of insanity. And that, essentially, is what happens to people when they become engulfed in pride; they become “conceited” to the point where they actually, biblically speaking, become insane. Probably the ultimate example of insanity found in the Bible is none other than Lucifer himself, who became so wrapped up in pride, and you have a description of this in Isaiah 14:12-15, and Ezekiel 28:12-17, Lucifer, a beautiful high ranking angel that God made.

(Isaiah 14:12-15, “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! [13] But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. [14] I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ [15] Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.” Ezekiel 28:12-17, “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. [13] ‘You were in Eden, the garden of God’ every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared. [14] ‘You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. [15] You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. [16] By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. [17] Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you.”)

Lucifer’s name actually means, in Hebrew, bearer of light, or son of the morning, a beautiful angel that God created to reflect or refract the glory of God. He became so enraptured with himself and his beauty and his talents and how God made him that he actually believed he could overthrow God. Is that not the definition of insanity? Somebody explain to me some time how do you overthrow God? How can you overthrow as a finite being another being that is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent, (all powerful), omnipresent, (everywhere at once)? Yet Lucifer, because of pride moved off into conceit to the point of insanity.

And this is the very thing that Paul says happens to people when they become lifted up with themselves. They not only become “treacherous” and “reckless,” they become “conceited” to the point of insanity. I’m reminded very much of Nebuchadnezzar in the Old Testament. Nebuchadnezzar, of course, was the king of the first empire during the times of the Gentiles, an empire called Neo Babylonia and God was very clear that the reason Nebuchadnezzar was in that position of influence is because God put him there.

Daniel 2:37 says this: “You, O king,” that would be Nebuchadnezzar, “are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory.” Translation: Nebuchadnezzar, you are in that position because God put you there. And yet Nebuchadnezzar, back in Daniel 4, a couple of chapters later, became conceited to the point of insanity. And this is what he began to say, in Daniel 4:30-31, “The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty. [31] ‘While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you.’”

You see what happens to Nebuchadnezzar? He became conceited to the point where he lost sight of reality. God had told him very clearly that Babylon would not exist were it not for My hand, and Nebuchadnezzar, you would not be in that position over Babylon were it not for My hand. And yet Nebuchadnezzar rejected this basic understanding and he began to take credit for Babylon, no longer seeing himself in that position of authority as placed there by God and as an agent for God. And he became conceited, enraptured with himself to the point of insanity.

Other words or phrases translated from this word “conceited” here would be: to be crazy, to be demented, to be insanely arrogant, to be so arrogant as to be practically demented. These are all phrases that come right out of the Greek lexicon as I was looking at this word. It’s a much stronger word than the word back in verse 2 simply translated arrogance. This is talking about arrogance to the point where your mind no longer thinks correctly, a person that has all the answers, a person that is smarter than God; that’s the kind of thing that’s being communicated here.

Now I work in higher education and I see this constantly in people. We have in higher education what we call specialists. I was never interested in being a specialist, I was interested in being a generalist. What is a specialist? A specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less. And a generalist, which is what my majors were all in, is someone who knows less and less about more and more. And I thought well, which one do I want to be? And I picked my majors according to that, I don’t want to be a specialist, I want to be a generalist. I’d rather know a lot of things about a lot of different subjects but have less knowledge in each of those subjects than to become so specialized that I’m an expert in my field but I don’t know anything else about any other field. Why is that? Because you see the world works together. If you’re just myopic and focused on one area you lose sanity because God has designed the world to work in harmony with each other. So people know more and more about less and less until they actually begin to know everything about nothing. And you become so isolated with walls built around your mind intellectually that you actually can reach a point in this where you lose sight with reality because the world itself is designed to work together.

Romans 1:22 says, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became” what? “fools.” That’s the kind of thing that Paul says is happening in the last days, conceited to the point where rational thought, logical thought no longer works in the minds of many. So treacherous, reckless, conceited.

And then he goes on in verses 5-7 and he describes people who hold “to a form of godliness” but deny its power. (5, “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…”) Now you would think with this long list of descriptors that the Apostle Paul gives that religion would die off; spirituality would die off. But the opposite is true. The more people go down this road the more spiritual they actually become. Look at the first part there of verse 5; “Holding to a form of godliness,” now this word “form” means the shape of something, but not the substance; it’s just a shape, but it’s not the substance. In fact, it’s the same word that’s used to describe manufacturing the golden calf. The golden calf was pressed into a particular form or shape and the tool that was used to press the golden calf into this shape was that word here, but it’s not the golden calf itself, it’s the shape of the golden calf that it will be pressed into but not the actual golden calf.

So it’s talking about a form of spirituality that really is devoid of substance. Now you take a look there at verse 5 and it says “holding to a form of godliness,” I went and looked up this word “godliness” and it is not the word Theos for God, it’s a different word. What does this communicate? The days are coming, Paul says, when spirituality is in, it’s just not God’s spirituality, just not spirituality of the Scripture. But humanity will become very spiritual in nature.

People laugh when I say this but I still believe it to be true; the greatest spiritual leader on planet earth today is Oprah Winfrey, because when you actually listen to Oprah Winfrey and you look at the books she endorses and almost any book she places her stamp of approval on, like Rhonda Bernie’s The Secret, which is nothing but a New Age book, it becomes a runaway best seller. And yet this woman, the daytime television queen, has an audience that’s inestimable, unfathomable. And she’s doing a lot more in these shows than talking about weight loss tips, and help tips and marriage tips. She’s communicating spirituality.

Now this little exchange you can find very easily on You Tube, but this is what happened. She’s responding to a fundamentalist…by the way, in this climate the worst thing you can call somebody is a fundamentalist; a fundamentalist Christian in her audience, and this is what she says:

“…one of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way…We don’t accept that there are diverse ways of being in the world; that there are millions of ways to be a human being. And many ways…many paths to what you call God. That her path might be something else and when she gets there she might call it the light. But her loving, and her kindness, and her generosity brings her to the…same point that it brings you to. It doesn’t matter whether she called it ‘God’ along the way or not…There couldn’t possibly be just one way!…There couldn’t possibly be only one way with millions of people in the world!…You think…if you are somewhere on the planet and you never hear the name of Jesus but yet you live with a loving heart. You lived as Jesus would have had you to live. You lived for the same purpose as Jesus came to the planet to teach us all, but you are in some remote part of the earth and you never heard the name of Jesus. You cannot get to Heaven…?”

See, this is so typical of what she’s talking about here. Many paths, many routes, it’s the spirit of the age, and think about this for just a minute. If there are many paths to God, as the world system and sadly some within the church tell us, then why did Christ have to die? When you say that you can get to heaven through your own chosen path then essentially what you’re saying is gee, Jesus, I really appreciate the fact that You died on that cross 2,000 years ago, I appreciate the fact that You were beaten within an inch of your life by the Roman centurions, I appreciate the thirty-nine lashes on Your back, I appreciate those nails that were thrust into Your hands and feet; I appreciate all that BUT it’s not necessary. It is the height of blasphemy and it is a direct attack and assault on the Second Member of the Trinity to say that there are many ways to God because you’re making His sacrifices unnecessary and somewhat marginalized. But yet Oprah’s statement here is a spiritual statement. It is high on spirituality but obviously it is devoid of biblical content.

Paul continues on in verse 5 and he says, “holding to a form of godliness,” watch this, “although they have denied its power.” It has the trappings of spirituality but it is devoid of substance; it is devoid of God’s power. Now why is it devoid of God’s power? Here is how you access the power of God: it is through one word we call relationship. You enter into a relationship with the God that made you and redeemed you. That is what is the source of power and authority for the Christian, a personal relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ. That’s why the New Testament keeps reaffirming our need to know God.

“Know” biblically is not a set of mental facts that you rehearse and regurgitate for a test. “Know” in the Bible is much more intimate. It is talking about a deep and abiding fellowship and friendship with God. That’s the power of Christianity. And yet all of these other forms of spirituality dance around that issue.

Someone has said that man has within him a God-shaped vacuum; people are inherently religious. Why is that? Because they are designed to have a relationship with the God that made them, and until that void is filled with God they will try to fill that void with all kinds of other things. Power and pleasure are the two greatest substitutes people try. But like the woman at the well, those substitutes leave you thirsty.

And then people try the religious card, the spiritual card. And you always know you’re dealing with a religious person rather than a Christian when they make these phrases like: “say a good word for me to the Man Upstairs, would you.” Why would I say a good word for you to “the Man Upstairs” when you can receive His Son right now and enter into a relationship with Him and talk to Him yourself? That is the power of Christianity, it is relational, not just spiritual for the sake of being spiritual. And yet in the last days there will be this form of spirituality, it will simply deny its relational content or authority or power.

“Holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power.” So what do you do with people like these? What do you do with people like this in the church? Look at what he says here in verse 5, this is so up-front: “Avoid such men as these.” Have nothing to do with them. The Bible simply teaches a basic concept: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

So the longer that you are around these types of people, essentially what happens is they will contaminate you with their message more than you will contaminate them or help them. And we oftentimes go into these relationships with people thinking we’re going to rescue them. Let me ask you a question: If I’m standing up on a chair and you’re down on the ground and we’re holding hands, is it easier for me to pull you up on the chair or for you to pull me off the chair? It’s far easier for you to pull me off the chair because the law of gravity is on your side.

So we get around these types of spiritual people we think we’re somehow going to change them, alter them, but in reality what happens is they end up changing us rather than us changing them. This is why the Bible talks about “do not be unequally yoked.” What is a yoke? A yoke is a harness, if you will, that went over two animals. And if those animals were unequally yoked, in other words, one is stronger than the other, the stronger one is going to influence the weaker one. So it is a biblical idea, you find it in 2 Corinthians 6, do not be unequally yoked, (2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” KJV)

What does that mean? Does that mean have no contact with pagans? No, it doesn’t mean that, you couldn’t function in society if you did that. Rather, what it’s talking about is avoid intimate relationships with people that do not share your value system. Business partnerships would be an example; marriage would be another example. As a Christian you avoid placing yourself in a situation where you are in an intimate relationship with someone whose values are different than your own, because at the end of the day you will be unequally yoked; they will influence you more than you influence them.

Take for example Lot, who in Genesis 13 around verse 12, simply “pitched his tent towards Sodom.” (Genesis 12:13, “…and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” KJV) He looked at Sodom, because looking at something for a long time, it’s just a matter of time before you indulge in that sin. See, that’s why when you go out to dinner, you go out to lunch, they come around and they say would you like to order dessert? You say no thank you. They go well, would you at least like to look at the dessert tray? Would you at least like to look at the dessert menu? Because they are marketers and they understand that if you focus on something for a certain period of time it’s just a matter of time before private thoughts turn into what? Public action.

So Lot “pitched his tent towards Sodom.” He might have gone into Sodom thinking, with the best intentions, that he was going to reform the city, and we know the whole story. Lot got into Sodom and Sodom got into Lot. And God had to almost move heaven and earth to get Lot out of Sodom. But even when Lot was removed from Sodom, Sodom was never removed from Lot. He emulated the value system of Sodom until his dying day, even though 2 Peter 2:7-8 tells us three times that Lot was a righteous man, positionally righteous before God. It says that three times. (2 Peter 2:7-8, “and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men [8] (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds).”)

So this whole story of Lot, and by the way, a good sermon title on this is Are you a lot like Lot? Are we looking at things we shouldn’t be looking at? Are we getting into relationships with people that we really shouldn’t be betting into relationships with those people. And we have to at some point bring ourselves back to the end of verse 5, where Paul says, “Avoid such men as these.” He doesn’t say rescue them, he doesn’t say try to help them at all in this passage, although it’s not wrong to try to help people and rescue people with some degree of discernment. He simply says, “Avoid them.”

Now anybody that’s a lifeguard will tell you that you do not go out and rescue a person who knows they’re drowning immediately because they are in such a frantic emotional condition they will actually pull you down along with them; you will drown as you’re trying to rescue a drowning person. What you do is you wait for them to run out of energy, then you go and you rescue them. And I think we need to be very careful as Christians who we are forming alliances with, who we are getting involved with. Paul, as describing these last days people who have a form of spirituality but deny the power thereof simply makes a statement: have nothing to do with people such as this. Notice verse 6, “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses.” These people are going to come, Paul says, and they are going to use your weaknesses against you. And in fact, they’re going to be coming to you, they’re going to be evangelistic trying to recruit you. And he talks here about “weak women” driven by “impulses.” Actually the way the Greek translates, it’s “little women,” women that are in a state of vulnerability. Why are they in a state of vulnerability? Because they’re already being led around, Paul says, by these impulses and so any charlatan that comes along will take advantage of those impulses and lead them away from Christ and into sin.

Well, maybe it’s time to get a little politically incorrect here; do you mind if I do that? 1 Timothy 2:12, the first book Paul wrote, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. [13] For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. [14] And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

When Paul mentions these weak-willed women I think he’s largely dialing back to this point that he made in the first letter to the same recipients in the same church. You see, there were people in that church, females, that wanted to be in a position of authority, either as elders or what we call exercising the role of pastor-teacher. And today when you turn on so-called Christian television you just see one prominent female Bible teacher after another. And this has become so prominent that’s simply speaking against it on the basis of 1 Timothy 2:12 and following, will make you a target of many, many people. (1 Timothy 2:12, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. [13] For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. [14] And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”)

You start going this direction that I’m going in here you’ll be called almost every name in the book; misogynist, arrogant, female-hater, male chauvinist pig, and so forth. But the fact of the matter is, Paul, in 1 Timothy 2: 12-13 talks about the emotional vulnerability of the female. He doesn’t say that women are not as smart as men. My own wife just corrected me a second ago for goodness sake. He doesn’t say that women are inferior to men. What he is saying is that there is something in the female composition going back to the Garden of Eden itself, which causes women to be more emotionally driven than men. And because they are more emotionally driven than men, they are in a place of spiritual vulnerability. It is easier, Paul is saying, to deceive them. And this is why you are to not put a female into a position of at least (A) pastor-teacher over a church, or number 2, an elder.

You say well, can’t women have ministries? Of course they can, read the book of Titus, older women, teach the younger women. (Titus 2:3-6, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, [4] so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, [5] to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”)

Timothy himself was the recipient of the teaching ministries of two women, going back to 2 Timothy 1:5, Lois and Eunice, grandmother and mother. (2 Timothy 1:5, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am sure that is in you as well.”)

Of course women can have ministries. Of course they can teach children. Of course they can teach younger women. And we need a lot more of that in the body of Christ. But you do not put them in a position of doctrinal headship over a church. You say well, that’s just the culture of the day that Paul was dealing with. No it wasn’t, because Paul, going back to 1 Timothy 2:12-13, links his case back to Eden, before the fall of man happened. And he’s saying as you study the creation story I want you to see something: number 1, Adam was created first, then Eve. God did that on purpose, to reveal male headship prior to the fall. Number 2, Eve sinned first and then Adam followed.

And what Paul is talking about is the emotional vulnerability of the woman because men and women are different. Do we all agree that men and women are different…praise God for that! But the difference is also emotional, and because of that emotional characteristic women are at a greater place of spiritual vulnerability than a man. I’m not saying a woman is not as intelligent as a man but when it comes to this issue of spiritual deception the female is at a greater place of vulnerability than the man. Now please don’t get mad at me and write me angry e-mails, I didn’t write the book, I’m just the mailman, I’m delivering the mail.

But it is so interesting to me to look at the amount of false doctrine constantly being promulgated across the airwaves and to note how many of these ministries are headed up by women. Can a man promote false teaching? Absolutely! But it seems to me that the female is in that greater place of deception.

Paul is talking about, going back to our passage in 2 Timothy 3, these last days, devolved people as I like to call them, entering into the household and captivating weak-willed women weighed down by various impulses. I don’t think you can understand that passage until you fully understand what Paul has said in his first book. Satan is targeting the woman; Satan, of course, targeted the woman going back to early Genesis, didn’t he? Why? Because she is in that place of spiritual vulnerability because of her emotional makeup and emotional composition. This is why the whole doctrine of male headship was created by God. It has to do with the different design between the genders. This is why there are gender limitations in the body of Christ upon some women.

And then when I bring this stuff up in the class, oh my goodness, up go the hands—what about this ministry, I’ve been blessed by this ministry, and they name some prominent woman. What about that ministry, I’ve been blessed by that ministry, and they name some prominent woman. And my answer to that is you’re moving into a mindset called pragmatism. What is pragmatism? Pragmatism is you figure out what is right by what works; if it works and someone is popular and someone has a big budget and someone has received Christ through their ministry then God’s hand must be in it, right! That’s called pragmatism.

Beloved, that is never our epistemology, which is the doctrine of knowledge. We do not evaluate things by what works — we evaluate things by what God says! After all, the Bible does say “there is a way that seems right to man, but ends thereof in death.” There are an awful lot of things I look at in the world that seem right to me, they seem okay, they seem to be working, until I look at the Bible and I see what the Creator Himself has said about these things.

Well, another hand goes up — what about, I was driving down the freeway and I was driving by a big church that looks like an athletic stadium, I’ll try not to give too much information here, and I saw on the marquee, Mr. So and So and Mrs. So and So co-pastors. So what’s wrong with that? It’s not saying that the woman is become the pastor, she’s just the co-pastor. What’s wrong with that? Well, when I get that kind of question I feel like I’m counseling Jr. High School students that say this: how far can we go on the first date without sinning. I mean, is holding hands okay? Is kissing okay? And they start giving you these questions, can I do this, can I do that. And I usually interrupt them at that point and I say you’re asking the wrong question; the question is never how close can we get before we sin, it’s how far away can we get from sin. Female pastors, co-pastors, or where the wife comes up into the pulpit and we’re told she’s not preaching, she’s just exhorting, what in the world does that mean? It depends on the meaning of what is is. Right? These word games people are playing, she’s not preaching, she’s just exhorting. Or it’s okay for a female to get up into the pulpit and give a testimony. Now we’ve had female missionaries get up and basically give testimonies, but I have to tell you, some of those testimonies start sounding an awful lot like sermons after a while.

And people are constantly asking, how close can we get? That is never the question with God; it’s how far can you get from sin? It’s how far you can stay away from falling over the cliff? It’s doing what Joseph did in Genesis 37 and following, when he was tempted into sexual immorality he didn’t sit there and rationalize, he didn’t sit there and play word games. He left so fast that he left his cloak behind, which became grounds for accusation against him by Potiphar’s wife. What I’m not seeing today in the body of Christ, I’m not seeing a Joseph mentality. What I’m seeing is a mindset that says how far can we go, how close can we get without falling over the edge. God help us to understand what is happening.

So these last days apostates are going to come and they are going to enter households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins led on by various impulses and women are already vulnerable to those impulses to begin with because of how God has designed the woman. But as the woman moves further and further into sin she has a greater and greater target on her back by Satan himself.

Verse 7, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” What are they learning about? Why are they always learning? Why are they always acquiring information? Because they’re acquiring information about the form, not the substance. They’re acquiring information about spirituality, rather than God. They are absorbing sermon after sermon (called daytime television, by the way) where they are learning spiritual truths. And Satan is using that as a substitute for the God-shaped vacuum inside of them which only God can fulfill, but He is using this as sort of a cheap substitute to keep their eyes off of the true power of Christianity, which is a relationship with God. Once you have that relationship with God no substitute satisfies. But how Satan wants to keep people’s mind and eyes away from the ultimate power which could fill the thirst inside of a human being and he wants them focused on these cheap substitutes constantly.

So they are always learning about spirituality, but they never really arrive at the substance, just the form. They never really arrive at the relational aspect and consequently they live their lives never fully understanding the purpose for their existence. What a tremendous description of the last days; “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid men such as these. [6] For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, [7] always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” [Verse 4] “treacherous, reckless, conceited,…[5] holding to a form of godliness” but denying “its power.”

Well, gee, Paul, do you have any examples? Paul says I’m so glad you asked that question. Notice, if you will, verses 8 and 9, “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the truth.” Now you look at these two names, Jannes and Jambres, and you say wait a minute, I’ve read the Old Testament several times, I don’t remember anybody having that name in the Old Testament, and you’re correct on that because the names, Jannes and Jambres are not found in the Scripture, they are preserved for us by Jewish tradition. According to Jewish tradition, the magicians that imitated the miracles that God brought forth through Moses, those magicians, their names were Jannes and Jambres.

Exodus 7:11 says this: “Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers and also the magicians of Egypt, and did the same with their secret arts.” They were able to imitate, under satanic powers, Moses plagues up until the production of the flies, they couldn’t produce life. But up until that point in time they were able to imitate what Moses, what God through Moses, was doing. Exodus 9:11 says, “The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians as well as on all the Egyptians.” Those were Jannes and Jambres.

It’s interesting here in verse 8 it goes on and it mentions their names, “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth.” Just as these magicians worked against Moses, Timothy, you’re going to have the same kind of thing in your life; the more you grow in God people are going to work against you. There are people in your life that will oppose truth. It has mystified me for most of my life how something could be absolutely right and there’s large voice, chorus of voices, saying it’s not right. Some things biblical, another group could say it’s not biblical. Some things American, another group can say it’s not American. Something could be patriotic, and another group could say it’s not patriotic. Any time you take a stand for truth anywhere there’s always some chorus of voices opposing it. You notice that? And this is the exact kind of thing that Paul says would happen, these men would oppose the truth.

He goes on here and he says of these men, “men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the truth.” I began to look at this word here, “depraved mind.” What is a “depraved mind”? A depraved mind is a mind that no longer thinks correctly. It is a mind that does not function the way God has designed it to function. It is dealing with people that constantly spit out of their mouths the wrong things and the wrong conclusions where the things that they are against seem to be so common sense to the rest of us, why don’t they get it? They have been given over to a depraved, reprobate mind, a mind that is not functioning the way God designed it.

Why is that? How do people get smart? Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of” not wisdom, it doesn’t say that, another verse says that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Knowledge is information, it’s data, it’s the ability to look at the world and interpret it correctly. How do you get that? The Bible tells us, it is “The fear of the LORD,” which essentially means respect for God and His ways, enhances knowledge. You see, the world is trying to tell us that we as Christians are members of the flat earth society, but the fact of the matter is, it’s the exact opposite. The more a person deposits themselves in the presence of the Lord and His Word and says “not my will be done” God, “but Thy will be done,” over my life is the moment their capacity to understand exponentially increases. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”

In my reading this week I ran across Isaac Newton, most people know Isaac Newton as a brilliant scientist, he discovered the law of gravity, an apple fell on his head, dah dah dah dah. Did you know that Isaac Newton was a devout Christian? Did you know that Isaac Newton spent more time studying the Bible than he did the laws of science, and the secular humanists are mad at it; how could this man with such intellect be devoting himself to the Word of God? My answer is it’s his devotion to the Word of God which enlightened his mind which gave him such an exponential understanding of the laws of science.

Psalm 14:1 says the opposite, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no” what? “God.’” You want to get foolish, you want the intellect to be darkened, you deny God, you deny His place and pre-eminence over you. You know, 1963 was a bad year. What you see, this is a record of SAT scores in America, they’re hovering right at the same level, then you big bold mark, 1963, and every year since then there’s been a precipitous decline. And people say my goodness, what happened in 1963? I shared this in one sermon and someone felt I was attacking them because they were born in 1963. That wasn’t my intent at all. 1963 is the year the United States Supreme Court said all of this Bible reading and prayer and Christian education that built our country, gone, vanished. No more prayer in the school unless it’s Oprah type prayer, no more Bible study in school, no more Bible reading in school, those things will become illegal.

And look at what happened to the knowledge level of people because “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” The mind works right when it’s in a relationship with God. If it’s outside of a relationship with God it does not function properly. This is why when the politicians say we need to throw more money at the problem to fix it, that’s a lie. We’ve been throwing money at federal and state bureaucracies for the last five decades and where has it gotten us? Nowhere. In fact, the more money we invest in these things the worse the performance is of many of these students. We have fundamentally rejected the most basic relationship, which is a relationship with God; that’s what allows the mind to function properly. And you can throw millions and billions and trillions of dollars at this broken system and it won’t fix anything.

Are you smarter than a fourth grader? Are you ready? How many degrees of longitude are there? How many degrees wide are the temperate zones? What is water-shed? Name the principal animals of the frigid zones. Name the different races into which humanity is divided. Number 6, what is a monarchy? I can answer that one, one out of six. What portion of the people are Pagans? What portion of the world are Christians?

How’d you do on that test? I’d give you the answers, I even don’t think I know the answers. If you read the fine print this was a Chicago test given to 4th graders in 1862. My goodness, this test was given before we even had a Department of Education, and before we spent all of this money. Why is it that the intellectual capacities of people in 1862 were far higher than they are today? Most adults could not pass this test, Yours Truly included, because our intellectual capacities have dissipated, because we have removed ourselves from a knowledge of God.

Janis and Jambres, evil rulers influencing Pharaoh; religious leaders influencing Pharaoh. That’s the kind of thing that would occur in the last days. What do we see today? Religious leaders, not biblical leaders, religious leaders influencing people in places of civil authority. The President’s spiritual adviser is a man named Jim Wallace. Who is that? Jim Wallace is a liberation theologian. What does that mean? He’s a Marxist, he believes that you can somehow combine the principles of the Bible with the principles of Marxism which is like trying to make oil and water fit together…liberation theology. That is who the President of the United States goes to for spiritual advice.

Another one of our Presidents, Bill Clinton, who was his spiritual adviser? A guy named Tony Campolo. Who’s that? Tony Campolo is the guy that came out and said look, I know the Bible is against homosexuality, but I feel the Bible is wrong here and I’m going to take a position contrary to what the Bible says. That is the spiritual adviser of one of our former Presidents. I could go on and on of people that come from a spiritual worldview that have access to political leaders and they exercise their deleterious influence on those political leaders. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, very spiritual man, he just happens to hate Jews and white people, spiritually.

See, this is the kind of thing that Paul says would happen in the last days. Jannes and Jambres had Pharaoh’s ear and they could put tidbits into his mind as to why he should oppose the work of God. Paul says it’s all coming back. You say well, I’m depressed. And I am too, until you get to verse 9, and we’ll close with verse 9.

Look at this, “But they will not make further progress, for their folly will be obvious to all just as Jannes and Jambres folly was also” obvious. You know, in our day, where there is such a flood of false teaching, if I could just say this, in our day where we’re about to have the primary, which I am scared to death of what I’m going to wake up to on Wednesday, in our day where apostasy is on the rise it is so easy to become depressed; it is so easy to become despondent, and yet verse 9 sort of stands out like a light in the midst of the darkness by reminding us that God is still in control. Do you all believe that? A world that looks out of control from the human point of view, God has the whole thing under control. What a reminder that’s so needed of the sovereignty of God. How do I know God has everything under control? Because He told us 2,000 years ago what would happen and exactly the chapter that we’re in is leaping off the pages of Scripture and it’s happening before us, there must be a God who knows the end from the beginning.

And then He tells us look, evil is going to have its heyday, but its days are numbered. They will not get far. He reminds us here, Jannes and Jambres had their heyday, but they didn’t get far, and their folly was obvious, the apostasy that’s coming, the evil and the examples. Well, how do we protect ourselves from the apostasy? You’ll have to come back next time we’re together to learn of it.

Shall we pray. Father, we are grateful for Your Word and Your truth and how it speaks into our lives into the 21st century. We ask, Father, that You’ll make us people of The Book and people of the Word as we stay close to you, as we live in a culture and a society that seems to be deteriorating. Make us people of Your will in these last days so that we may finish our assignments. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…Amen.

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