Jump Start # 3205
2 Timothy 2:17-18 “and their talk will spread like gangrene, among whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some.”
Dangerous times is not something new to these days. In our verse today, the apostle warns of dangerous talk. Three immediate things we notice. First, their talk spreads. Paul likens it to gangrene, which is the deadening of the body. We might use the illustration of mold on a wall. It spreads. Second, what was spreading was error. They claimed the resurrection was over. Obviously, they were not talking about Jesus’ resurrection, because it was over by the time this was written. The future resurrection, our resurrection, is what they had in mind. For them, it had already taken place. We missed it. We were left out. How they would prove that is difficult to understand. Thirdly, what they were doing was harmful. They are described as “men who have gone astray from the truth,” and, they were upsetting the faith of some. They were not making brethren stronger. They were not encouraging. They were not helpful. They were making things worse.
Some lessons for us:
First, some things have never changed. Yet, today, there are some who are upsetting the faith of others by saying things that cannot be proven Biblically. Some have an interest in being important. They want a following. And, that is nothing new. The elders at Ephesus were warned that among them some would try to draw the disciples after them. Pride feeds the need to be recognized, valued and important. Some things have never changed.
Second, our faith can be turned upside down if it is not firmly established in the word of God. We need to recognize what God’s word says. We need to be able to notice what isn’t true to the Scriptures. It’s when we don’t know that error gains a foothold among us. Our greatest tool is truth. Truth has nothing to fear. Ask the hard questions, truth can handle it. Examine it. Study it. Know it. Live by it. And, when one is richly embracing truth, he will recognize things that just aren’t right.
Error doesn’t wear a name tag. Error doesn’t announce that what is said is not true. The Lord told us that error looks like one of us. It’s a wolf in sheep clothing, is how Jesus defined it in His sermon. From a distance, that wolf can sure look like a sheep. But look at it closely, you’ll see differences. That wolf won’t eat grass like the sheep. That wolf stands taller than the rest of the sheep. From a distance, he may look like a lamb, but he isn’t. The keen eye will notice. And, when error is placed next to truth, the differences are clearly seen. Don’t be fooled. Not be misled.
Third, an upset faith, shipwrecked faith, or a faith that has crashed, is of little good. If indeed the resurrection was over, what would that mean? Would that mean we missed Heaven? What’s the purpose then if we are no longer going to be raised. Why walk with the Lord, if this is it? Why worship if this is it? Why be holy if this is it? One might as well toss in the towel and live as an animal.
But what about the words of Jesus in John 5 which promises that all who are in the tombs will come forth? What about Paul’s words to the Corinthians that tell us that all will be changed and put on the imperishable? Those “all” words, do they mean “all” or just “some?” Someone should have said that to Philetus. Smooth talking and a charismatic spirit can get around plain simple Bible verses.
Fourth, some of the greatest threats that brethren face are not from the outside but rather from the inside. The danger from within is that we give each other so much benefit of the doubt and we tend to put our guard down because it’s one of us. And, that’s just what Satan does. He sneaks in unnoticed. He picks and chips away at faith until he has wrecked the hearts of many. This is why wise shepherds must truly be overseers. They are not overseeing budgets and supplies, but the hearts of the brethren. What’s being listened to and read? What’s influencing folks? Is there a spirit like Hymenaeus who is spreading things and irritating the faith of some?
We must love the Lord and the truth more than we love each other. If not, we will look the other way, when we should not. We will give someone a pass, who should not be given a pass. We will tolerate things that ought not to be tolerated. The wellbeing of a congregation is wrapped around their love of the Lord and His word.
Dangerous times…keep your eyes open and keep God’s word open.