Virtual Reality | Day 20
Christian leaders love people enough to supplement telling the truth with showing them the truth and the way (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
The first WORD of chapter 3 sets the tone for the section: UNDERSTAND. A virtue of Christian leaders is that we know – content--and are known – contact. Godly lifestyles and Christ-like habits begin with knowledge that is understood, appropriated in the heart, and moved out towards the hands.
The second part of verse 1 says,
“…in the last days there will come times of difficulty.”
Even though honorable servants can be vessels in the Lord"s hands to lead dishonorable vessels to repentance, Timothy is served due notice that in the “last days” things will be “difficult.”
“Last Days” (Acts 2:16-17; Heb. 1:2; I Pet. 1:20; 4:7; I John 2:18)
The “Last Days” refers here to the time in which both we and Timothy live. It’s a time ushered in through the completed Christ-events: His incarnation, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. The Last Days refers to the period between the ascension and His return.
These days will be “difficult.” The word can also mean "violent", "dangerous", "fierce" and even "hard to deal with." Opposition to the Gospel is not a temporary obstacle; it is a permanent feature of the age because people will not submit to the truth.
Remember, as Paul wrote these words, he was in prison awaiting execution (1:11-12; 2:9). He had been repudiated in Asia (1:15). False teachers were battling to lead people astray, attacking Paul. Verse 1 presents not just difficult times BUT violent times ahead. Sadly, this is still the picture in the world. These are the last days. These are truly difficult days for many followers of Christ across the world. Spend time praying for them today.
In verses 2–5b Paul unpacks what makes this life so difficult: people with an appearance of godliness who nonetheless live dishonorable lives. Timothy however must live a faithful life ensuring that his actions are consistent with his confession. Even though this will be difficult, Timothy can do so if he will: “Avoid such people” (verses 5b). Timothy is to willfully and continually avoid this kind of person. Avoidance refers to false teachers, people like Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses (verse 8) not to people who, because they have not surrendered their lives to Christ, can do little to withstand the power of sin or the words of dishonorable teachers.
The false teachers who are to be avoided are those who according to verse 6:
“Creep into households and capture weak women weighed down with sins.”
Why women? The issue is culture not nature. It is not that women were more susceptible to heresy than men. In that culture, women were not schooled. Jesus elevated the status of women in that day and gave them access to teaching typically reserved for men. Mary is observed sitting at Jesus’ feet. Sitting was a picture of a teaching/learning environment. Learning was a more blessed pursuit for Mary than Martha’s frantic and culturally expected pose of waiting on men. In 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul says, “Let a woman learn.” That was a command. The reason women continued to be susceptible to heresy is because men did not grant them access to teaching. The woman’s desire to learn therefore exposed them to dishonorable teachers who did not believe the truth. Among these women were younger widows whose sensual, but unchallenged desires, were not only left unchecked but were also fueled.
This picture is supported when we look at the words Paul uses in this verse:
“Creep”--to sink, by implication, wrap on. The word pictures a sinking, creeping, clinging action. These false teachers were taking advantage of un-watchful and uninformed housewives.
“Capture”-- Literally “to capture by means of a spear” (cf. Eph. 4:8; Rev. 13:10). The false teachers continue to use this strategy of seducing families through the wife who stayed home during the daytime work hours.
“Weak women weighed down with sins”: This seems to relate to a problem with younger widows seduced by evil.
The point again is that unlearned sensual people won’t live Christ-like lives, no matter how godly the appearance may be. So how do we allow the Spirit to work in us so that we live true to our confession rather than becoming people weighed down with sin? Here are four simple practices that I’d encourage you all to make time for:
PRACTICE #1: Reflect
Make time for reflection. Reflection slows us down to the point where the Word can help us with practice #2 …
PRACTICE #2: Reassess
Take time to see our life as a whole. When we’ve reflected on our recent past, we are in a position to allow the Word to challenge or encourage us in our steps.
PRACTICE #3: Reconcile
When you reassess, there is going to be a need for some form of reconciliation, beginning with yourself. Reconciliation with your imperfections and those of others can help you find the peace of mind necessary to act wisely later.
PRACTICE #4: Reunite
Try to be at peace with those you love.
Food for Thought:
1. Spend time praying for Christians being persecuted for their faith.
2. Which of these four practices is the most difficult for you to put into practice and why?