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Monday, May 8, 2017

Disciples of Impostors (Firewall cont.)

In the past couple of days we have said that those whom Paul is calling out are not content with being evil men and impostors, they are committed to lead others in the way of their “godliness”.
Disciples of Impostors (Firewall cont.)
They do this by going after the women in the community.  As an aside and as a suggestion for further study, note how much of this last letter of Paul to his closest co-laborer focuses on ministry to women.

2 Timothy 3:7, has always been a passage that scared me.  In the past I have wrongly attributed Paul’s description to the teachers.  But he is not describing them.  He is describing the women who are following them.

Regardless, the description, “always learning but never able to come the knowledge of the truth”, should still cause us a great deal of discomfort if not abject terror.  The word that is translated “knowledge” here is ἐπίγνωσις (epignōsis).  This word plays a prominent role in 2 Peter 1:3 – 10.  In that passage it is translated “true knowledge” in verses 3 and 8 and seems to have a similar force in verse 2.  The sense is that this is a clear understanding of truth.  A recognition of what God is revealing in the text.  Those who are the disciples of the impostors are not able to recognize the truth.

This is not the first time we have seen this reality in the Scripture.  Jesus rebukes the Jews in John 5:39 – 47, because they have completely missed the point of the Word.  They did not recognize the truth.  James tells us in James 1:22 – 25, that if we are not applying the Word, doing, obeying, applying it to our lives, it has no effect on our lives.  Essentially, we are not recognizing the truth.

I have encountered people enmeshed in the teachings of impostors.  They were committed and could recite nearly by rote convoluted and complicated systems of “thought” that was the teaching of the impostors they followed.  They were so deeply engaged in the false teaching that they were unable to state what the text of the Bible said.  They read and interacted through the lens of the system they had learned.  In many cases completely distorting the plain meaning of the text or else significantly redefining words in the text from any supportable historical or contextual meaning.

Some of these impostors are with us today.

The deeply troubling truth is that none of us are immune from slipping into error of this kind.  Which is really Paul’s point is it not?

He has laid out the danger.  He has described the evil men and impostors.  He next gives us an example to follow and tells us how to build the firewall against the conflagration of error that he warned the elders from Ephesus would come from among their own number in Acts 20:30; which warning he is repeating to his beloved son here.

We will dive into those remedies for error in the next posts.

1 comment:

  1. Our society (and our churches) is full of deception. Listen to the news, even, with a discerning ear.

    But I sadly admit that I am my own most lethal "deceiver." I find my own heart seems to have no bottom to my ability to live permanently in a state of denial.

    I see new relevance as the Hebrews writer in Ch.12 reveals how God deals us when He needs to as "sons/daughters," with discipline. And that discipline comes to us in the form of hardships (v.7).

    Why does God send (I select that word carefully) us hardships? Sometimes to exercise our faith in various ways to make us stronger for more challenges to come.

    But sometimes it is to get my attention, to help show me sin(s) in my life I have either not recognized, or even more tragic, that I refuse to acknowledge. I decided several years ago that my capacity to deceive myself is practically unlimited. There is no end to that capacity.

    The last two years I have endured the most difficult stage of my journey probably, of my whole lifetime. I know that if could I would take a way of escape; but there is none. I have had to face things in my life to an extent I never have before - emptiness, hopelessness - and despair lives right next door. I know of course a multitude of promises - and believe them. But getting them operable in my life remains elusive to the extent I deeply long for. I can say with Job, (Job 23:8-10) "Behold, I go forward but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; He turns on the right, I cannot see Him." All seems really dark out there ahead.

    But Job had more to say: "But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

    What am I learning? I have denied for years two particular issues in my life that are displeasing to the Lord. The gracious, measured blow I have taken has cleared my spiritual eyesight; I see them painfully clearly. And I see that the Lord was speaking to me through the gentle reproofs of others, most notably my godly wife. I would not listen.

    I wonder where else I am so deceived...? Somehow I feel there is more to come.