OPPOSE FALSE TEACHINGS (2 Timothy – 8)
READ: 2 Timothy 2:14, 16-19
Sometimes pastors get so busy doing all that needs to be done to lead a church that they stop doing the most important things. It can be easy to major on minors and neglect that which God sees as top priorities. To make sure that doesn’t happen to Timothy, Paul wrote to him just before he died reminding him of his duty to God and others. One of Timothy’s more important duties was to remind people to avoid quarreling about fine points of doctrine (2 Timothy 2:14, 16-19). That’s an important duty for us today as well because too many Christians get in big arguments over little things.
Timothy’s duty is to “keep reminding” them to keep from unbiblical teachings (verses 14, 16). We do that in our preaching, teaching and in personal conversations. He, and we, need to keep going over the basic truths of the faith and apply them to life. False teachers and Satan promote lies so we need to keep the truth first and foremost. “Quarreling about words” is wrong because 1) we aren’t to quarrel, just have mature discussions and 2) there are many more important things to do with our time and energy than focus on minor, hair-splitting controversies. Doing that often brings division among believers and harms the testimony of Jesus. Pride enters when people want to be right and will do anything to ‘win.’
Similarly, Paul tells Timothy to “avoid godless chatter” (verse 16). “Godless” is talk which doesn’t glorify Him with the truth but instead is false and in error. “Chatter” describes empty, foolish talk which doesn’t edify or build others up. It is fruitless discussion of things which aren’t supported by Scripture. These false teachings distract people from important issues and cause divisions and arguments. They are not just senseless, like “How many angels can sit on the point of a needle?” They are poisonous and destructive, like gangrene (verse 17). They bring sickness and decay into the Body of Christ.
The example Paul used was the false teaching that the resurrection had already come (verse 18). Some today still say there is no real physical resurrection, it is just ‘spiritual,’ something that happens at salvation. You can imagine the confusion and loss of hope that would bring! It must have caused problems throughout the church in Ephesus. It was up to Timothy then, and us today, to correct false teachings as soon as they appear.
Still, God is in sovereign control. Paul reminded them of this by quoting the Old Testament: “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19; Numbers 16:5, 26). Those who are His people must turn from these false teachings and teachers (2 Timothy 2:19; Isaiah 52:11; Joel 3:5).
It’s one thing when someone comes to your church and denies the truth of the Bible and the deity of Jesus. It is clear and obvious that they are wrong and must be opposed. It is more difficult if it is someone who claims to be a Christian following the Bible. Then the people respect and trust them and they gain a foothold in the church and start talking to people about things that aren’t supported by the Bible. People can be deceived, like Adam and Eve. Some people look for something new to believe, perhaps an easier way to live the Christian life. They may fear they are missing something and the false teacher knows something they don’t. It can be very difficult to challenge and correct people like these. I have faced this several times in my years as a pastor. It ended with people hurt and confused, and some leaving the church and even the faith. It almost always brought conflict and hard feelings. It is sad when it happens, but it is our duty to oppose false teachings no matter how hard or painful. They are like gangrene. The poison will spread and cause more destruction if we let it go on. Keep teaching your people the truth of God’s Word. Make sure your sermons teach and explain Bible passages, and not just the same ones over and over. Cover the whole Bible and all its teachings. Pray for wisdom and courage, then stand for the truth.
PAUL’S ADVICE: Stand against any teaching that is not clearly supported by Scripture.
1 Timothy 6:3-5 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Have you had to stand against anyone who brought false teachings into your church? What happened?
Are you tempted to compromise and avoid conflict when someone starts leading people astray? Ask for courage to stand for the truth.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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