Good morning my friends. I know it's a Monday morning but I have a bit of a shocker for you. I hope you have started in on your coffee and that you are sitting down. It may come as a complete reversal of everything you have been taught by some of the more "modern" teachers in the Church. Here goes:
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted... (2 Timothy 3:12)
Not the easiest thing to hear as we get ready to go off to work. Notice it is not a "maybe" but a "will be". Paul is only repeating what Jesus had warned his disciples, that they would be hated by the world in the same way Jesus was hated by the world. We can't live as a holy people in a fallen world without encountering resistance from time to time. At the same time then we can understand the second part:
while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (v. 13)
Such people are at home here; it is a natural environment for them. It is in this environment that we have been instructed to love our neighbour, to pray for those who persecute us, to turn our cheek, to twice what is demanded of us. Regardless what we face the important thing is to remember that we are not alone:
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. (vv. 10-11)
This is when we lean heavily upon Jesus' promise to always be with us. We can't make it here on our own. Paul's instruction to Timothy was not to be distracted by the evil that seems to succeed in this place:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (vv. 14-15)
We have an instrument of comfort and defense at our finger tips and hopefully buried in out heart. It should be our source for all things. Perhaps too often we are reading other people's opinions on the Bible instead of studying and leaning on the Spirit for understanding and application. Paul tells Timothy:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (vv. 16-17)
The Word of God is precious and the most valuable of all the things we possess. To own it is one thing; to study and apply it is another. We have to learn it and learn how to handle it. Over the centuries it has been attacked, criticized, burned, banned, torn apart, and even today there are those who try to undermine its authority in our lives. It is easy to understand why. In a fallen world that is controlled and directed by evil, such a holy thing is despised and hated. The minds controlled by the enemy cannot see the truth and attack what is God's, both the written form and the living. We are the living Word. If we are who we are suppose to be and are doing what we are suppose to do then we are the only Bible some people will read.
At some point we need to wake up and understand that the enemy hates God and everything that is connected to God. The enemy hates us and wants to destroy us to get back at our Father. He hates the Holy Scriptures and will do everything he can to undermine them. We cannot be surprised by these things if we do not want to be destroyed by these things. Open your eyes and see the truth so you know what to do when the enemy starts pounding on the door of your heart and mind. Stand with Jesus, on his Word and Jesus will stand with you and will defend you. Turn away from Jesus, let go of the Word and the enemy will make short work of you. Stick with the Word "so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."