One of my favorite chapters in the New Testament is 2 Timothy 3, and as our pastor was reading it, I read again for the first time a verse that somehow has escaped my notice. I think it may be that I so often concentrate on the first nine verses that warns of perilous times and perilous men that I miss the rest of the chapter.
However, verse 12 raised up off the page of my Bible yesterday and smacked me in the face. It is a verse that can be easily overlooked either purposefully or unwittingly. Nevertheless, we must dissect it:
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
I thought to myself, now that would make a good refrigerator magnet. Yeah Bro Dave, one that would never sell. What I’m about to share with you may make many of you angry. Just remember that you are eavesdropping on God’s conversations with me, so you’ll be pointing your anger at the wrong person if you direct it towards me. Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts as we are heading into extreme turbulence.
The Greek word for desire in verse 12 is thelo, and it means “to will, decide, want to; wish, desire.” It connotes a deliberate decision and willingness to do something.
Here comes the bumpy part: if you are unwilling to suffer persecution as a Christian, you cannot, as in you can’t, live a godly Christian life. First thing we must determine is what is meant by living “godly in Christ Jesus.” The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy on this in his first letter. First, we are to pray for those in authority so we can live godly lives:
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Next, we must be careful of a coming great apostasy, which I believe is already upon us. We must embrace sound Biblical doctrine and reject the feelgood gospel the Joy Boys are preaching from the NTFV (New Touchy-Feely Version) Bible:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:1-10)
I know that was a lot of verses to read, but you needed to get the full context. To live godly lives we can never forsake the truth of sound Biblical doctrine, and by doing so we will suffer reproach for taking such a rigid stand. So be it!
Finally, if you find yourself in a church that is teaching anything but sound Biblical doctrine in the promotion of godliness, you only really have one choice:
“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
Bro Dave I can’t leave my church, my family has been going there for generations. They would disown me if I did that. You wouldn’t be the first to suffer as such. And yet you have no choice, that is if you want to live “godly in Christ Jesus.”
Do not think your persecution will go unnoticed by our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact Christ made a stunning announcement to the church in Smyrna when it came to persecution:
“These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: ‘I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.’” (Revelation 2:8-11)
In light of what Scripture reveals, if we want to live godly lives you can count on it being counter-culture and politically incorrect. We reject the postmodern wisdom of man and embrace the eternal truths of Christ Jesus.
One could make the argument that we indeed have a choice of how we live our lives. That argument could be made through human reasoning, but really, when you look at it through a Biblical lens, really…
…you have no choice.
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Copyright © 2013 David Jeffers