September 5, 1999
I wanted to continue with the Holy Spirit this morning, but
I did not want to ware you out on that topic. As I thought about
a topic, this passage in Timothy came to mind.
The reason this was on my mind is because I have been going through the book of 2 Timothy for some time now. It takes months for me to seriously go through a book, and I gather more material than I will ever use. I just finished chapter two (46 pages), and have been doing an overview of chapter 3 before I get into it seriously. As I was thinking about what to use this morning, I was reminded of 2 Timothy 3:2.
Before we look at an application of this passage, let me give you an outline of what Paul is saying.
First, chapter 2 Paul warns Timothy of false teachers who will come into the church. The clear warning is found in Acts 20.
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Second, chapter 3 warns about the last days when men shall
be lovers of their own selves. The MEN of 3:2 are PROFESSED CHRISTIAN
MEN, particularly those in place of Christian leadership. The
context tells us that these men are the wolves warned about by
Paul in Acts 20. These men are respected pastors and teachers
in the Christian religion.
Paul warns Timothy that men will soon arrive in the history of the church, and will seem to take it over. The motives of these men will not be love for God nor will their motives be to love their neighbors as themselves. Their motives will be selfish -- what they can gain for them selves. Their motives will be for gold, glory and gals.
Third, the lovers of self are not all controlled by all the evils mentioned in this passage. But self love and self esteem lead to these evils. And the evils will be more prevalent in some people more than in others.
In fact, in order to exalt themselves, some may even have an outwardly holy life above reproach, but the motive behind that life is that they love their own selves. They will see a godly life style as a way to exalt self.
Fourth, the reason these men are placed in leadership positions though they love their own selves is found in 2:25 -- Those responsible to properly instruct them did not. In fact, we could say here that self love breeds self love. And just like the proverbial rabbits, the doctrines of self love and self esteem soon take over the Christian community.
The evils of 3:2-5 are common because the instructors of 2:25 did not do their jobs properly.
(Remember, the chapter and verse divisions were not in Paul's letter. So 3:1 is simply a new paragraph in the same letter, following 2:26, and it further develops the same thought.)
So, the proper understanding of this section is Paul warning Timothy that the church will be overrun with Christian leaders controlled with self love and self esteem. Leaders who are in love with their own selves are unable to set the hearers free of the devil's snare, so the church falls victim to the errors of 3:2-5.
Though the context of the passage warns against Christian leaders who are lovers of their own selves, this is not the message this morning.
Rather, I would like to apply Paul's warning to us as Christians living in a wicked world given over to self love.
FIRST, we live in a world controlled by self loving people.
3:2-5, describes some of the attributes of these self loving people. We will not look at the many cross reference passages. It is easy to trace each of these evils to the root cause -- they are lovers of their own selves, and their lives revolve around that love. They are dangerous people.
As I mentioned, those who love their own selves may live morally pure with all the right actions and words, but their common motive is to exalt self. Actually, when carried to its logical conclusion, the self esteem gospel will result in the following (Philip. 2:3):
Covetous -- money loving. People are out for what they can get, regardless of what they must do to others.
Boasters -- they boast of having what they do not have. They pretend to be something they are not.
We see boasters all around us as people go horribly in debt to show themselves to be something they are not with their large houses and expensive cars.
Proud -- they exalt themselves over others. They see themselves better than others. The proud expect others to order their lives for the convenience of the proud. They treat others with contempt.
Blasphemous -- they regard neither God nor man, and speak abusively about both.
Disobedient to parents -- the character of the times can be seen in the attitude of the youth.
Unthankful -- also means ungracious, or unpleasant. They have no regard as to where their blessings come from, and are not thankful to anyone about anything. They are in love with self, so they refuse to be indebted to anyone else, especially to God.
Unholy -- wicked.
Without natural affection -- inhuman or unloving. There is a natural human affection due to all, and everyone should be treated with human dignity. But these people are bound by self love, not by love for anyone else nor love for good. They see no need to follow the GOLDEN RULE.
Trucebreakers -- IF these people can be influenced to enter into an agreement, they will only keep it as it suits their own goal of exalting self, or gaining what they want. They are lovers of their own selves, and everything revolves around that love.
False accusers -- they have no regard for the good name of others, nor to any obligations to anything except to their own self. If they see the opportunity to advance self, they will do it at the expense of those around them.
Incontinent -- without self-control, intemperate. They have no self government. They indulge themselves, for they are in love with self.
Fierce -- their love for self knows no bounds as they move against anything and anyone who might stand in their way.
They are soft on themselves while being hard on others.
Despisers of those that are good -- opposed to good and good people. Though they may profess to love good, their love is for self and for their own way. They define good as those things which promote their goal. And even a good life can promote self.
Traitors -- they will betray anything necessary in order to obtain their goal.
CLINTON, is a traitor as he sold secrets to China for his own profit. But Christians do the same as they sell out their testimony for Christ to obtain their goal.
I am continually surprised at how lightly Christians give and take their WORD. They commit them selves to something, and then dismiss that commitment as though it were nothing.
The commitment made to the Lord in baptism is ignored, then the same people get upset when others will not keep commitments.
Heady -- rash and reckless, their PASSIONS rule their lives.
High minded -- puffed up with pride, haughty. This also includes being blinded by pride or conceit, and so making foolish and stupid decisions.
I have made this observation many times. I seem to be unable to keep from noticing the extremely expensive houses being built around here, Lafayette and Indianapolis. The thought that crosses my mind is that these people are high minded. They are determined to present themselves as someone they are not, so they go deeply in debt. They are blind by pride, so they cannot see that they are condemning themselves to 30-50 years of servitude.
People are in love with their own selves, and covetousness rules. Their love for self blinds them to the reality of the bad decisions they are making.
They are puffed up. It is like a fog that blinds them. This last summer had a lot of early morning fog. It has been so thick that at times I could only drive 25-30 mph. But the high minded charge ahead in that blinding fog as though there were no fog at all. They do not realize that they are headed for sure destruction.
Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God -- this phrase is self explanatory. Their god is their belly, their natural lusts and pleasure. Their love is for self, and everything revolves in pleasing self, not around pleasing God.
Really, the only god they know is the one who damns everything.
Though we are using this passage in the sense of the pagans around us, I will mention the next couple points:
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof -- this identifies the lovers of self as professed Christians. V. 6 also supports the understanding that these men are "Christian" teachers. V. 7, they also increase in academic knowledge of God's word, but they do not increase in godliness.
But we will not pursue this point.
Paul warned Timothy that those who loved God would be surrounded by people who are lovers of their own selves. We can fully expect these self loving people to act toward us according to these attributes.
They will use us to further their own goals. They will use their words for their own advantages. And Paul implies the situation will not improve any time soon.
SECOND, how must we respond to those controlled by self love and self esteem?
1) 2 Timothy 2:22, we must flee from the youthful lusts to strike back.
2) v. 23, we must avoid the things we know set people off--things that lead to strife. There are things we must strive for, but neither is that the subject this morning
THIRD, is there hope to salvaging those controlled by self love and self esteem?
The only hope of "salvaging" those who are full of self esteem and self love is by doing v. 25, meekness and proper instruction in the truth. The Lord alone can change their hearts from self love to godly love.
The world is full of self esteem -- people who are in love with their own selves and esteem their own selves above others. They are proud, boasters, false accusers, truce breakers, unthankful, despisers of those that are good, high-minded, and they are more interested in the pleasures of this world than they are in God or in doing right.
We can count on encountering people like this.
Illustration: I used this illustration before. When I worked for HONEYWELL, there was a man nick named, Boom Boom Bouser. His name was Bouser, and Boom Boom described his makeup. HONEYWELL sent me to a job to replace him and send him to another location. Because I was not a journeyman, he went "Boom Boom." Rather than going to the new job site, he exploded that a non journeyman would tell him what to do, and could replace him on a job.
He went to the Union Hall, and that was it. The next night, the union passed a resolution that a permit man could not work on a job by himself. That was the end of my good job with HONEYWELL.
There are many "Boom Booms" in the world. These men are in love with their own selves, and they are proud and lifted up. It seems that every one has a certain number of "Boom Booms" to encounter in life. So it is just a matter of time before you will encounter your appointed share. And it seems the number of self esteemed, self loved individuals is increasing.
How must they be addressed?
I) They will be there. Maybe your appointed number of the self lovers is higher than mine. "Boom Boom" is the one who stands out in my mind, because he cost me the best job I ever had. And I would still be there if it had not been for him.
II) We become comfortable with where we are and what we are, so the Lord has a way of sending Boom Boom along our paths. The Lord uses him to disrupt us, and to call our attention to who and what we are. If we do not learn from the first one, there will be another and another.
IV) We must respond with v. 25, meekness and a soft answer.
V) Thank God for Boom Boom, because God sends him our way for a reason.
III) Is there hope for Boom Boom? Yes, 25, avoid strife as much as possible, and meet his attacks with a meek spirit.
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