As you all know we are doing an expository preaching through the epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. Last Sunday Jinson preached from the text 2 Timothy 2:15-21 titled “The Job description of a Gospel worker”
Before we get into our next passage today I wanted to re-emphasize on certain points we looked at last Sunday which I believe has a strong connection with what I’m going to share today.
As Jinson rightly said … Even though this letter may seem to have written to Timothy – a servant of Christ, but the principles apply to every believer. Here are couple of more reasons why that is true.
1. In Luke 4:8 Jesus reminds us an old commandment which says “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only” – Remember this commandment is not just for the church leaders but for every Christian – Which implies that we all are called to serve him in some measure or the other. When a person is in a real relationship with God, he/she will serve God.
2. The second reason is found in Romans 8:29 which implies that we are all images bearers of Christ and God’s intention for us is to make all of us like his son Jesus “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers”. Therefore, if Jesus’s entire life was centered on serving God – by teaching, healing, and proclaiming the Kingdom of God then I believe that is exactly what God intends for us as well.
3. These letters are instructions that are foundational to our Christian faith, and therefore ignoring them saying these are only for church leaders and not for us will be inaccurate.
The reason I wanted to re-emphasize on this point is because if we get this wrong then none of what Paul says here will seem like a practical application for our life and we will tend to ignore them as if its only for pastors and leaders.
The truth is even though the letter is addressed to church leaders, every single verse is life giving and applicable to every person who believes in Christ and desires to grow in their faith and service to God.
And therefore we are all Gospel workers, called to diligently serve Christ by rightly handling the word of truth with a genuine heart, distancing ourselves from unproductive teachings, serving one another in whichever measure God leads you.
Now the hard hitting reality of life is this.
As easy as it sounds it is often the biggest challenge we face daily – To love and live for Christ, serve him and to serve his people – Isn’t that Right?
I believe our next passage i.e 2 Timothy 2:22-26 will help us address some of these challenges and help focus on our true purpose in Life and that is to love and live for Jesus.
Let’s open our bible to 2 Timothy 2:22-26 and read.
The first thing that strikes out for me when I read these instructions is that Paul is not writing to someone who is new in faith. He is writing this to Timothy about whom Paul himself mentions in chapter 1 verse 5 as a man of sincere faith – A man who loves Jesus – A man who was on a missionary journey with Paul and was sent out to look out for the church in Ephesus. – By this we know that Timothy was a strong and mature believer.
Which implies to me that as a believer we should never underestimate the seductive power of sin even if think we are sincere, bible believing, spirit led Christian. If Timothy needed to hear theses instructions and guard his heart against them then even we need to consider them as serious instructions for our lives.
The first instruction Paul gives Timothy and to us today as we seek to serve Jesus and live a God glorifying life is to
1. Flee from youthful passions
Timothy was a young pastor (the bible doesn’t tell us his age but looking at his journey we can say he wasn’t too old either), and as a young leader he was prone to fall into youthful passions that could distract him for serving Jesus. Nowhere in the bible does it mention that Timothy was married; which means he had dedicated his whole life to serve in the Kingdom of God.
Historians say Timothy remained in Ephesus until AD 97. During a pagan celebration of a feast called “Catagogian,” Timothy severely reproved the people in the procession for their ridiculous idolatry. Because of which he was beaten with clubs “in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later.”
For Timothy to serve Christ faithfully in that manner he had to keep a watch over his life by fleeing from any youthful passions. Isn’t that true from us even today and if I may put it this way saying “If anyone one of us present here today wants to serve Jesus have to watch over their lives by feeling from all and any kind of youthful passions that distract us from serving Christ faithfully”
In today’s generation sexual passions leading to sexual sins have destroyed many lives, especially with the easy accessibility of sexual content through internet. Even small kids can find and watch anything they want. As parents one of our hardest struggle is to protect our children from getting exposed to unhealthy sexual content and no matter how hard we try these things find their way to creep into their lives from somewhere or else. Sometimes through simple advertisement imagery on the roadside draws their attention.
The largest increase in moral acceptability from 2001 to 2015 was for homosexual relations, which increased 23 percentage points, from 40 to 63 percent. That was followed by having a baby outside of marriage (45 to 61 percent), heterosexual sex outside of marriage (53 to 68 percent), divorce (59 to 71 percent) and polygamy (7 to 16 percent). I believe if we have to take a count in the last two years the numbers must have grown even more.
The recent study examined pornography’s effect on pastors, churches, the general population, and young people says
“Most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) admit they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past,” “Overall, 21 percent of youth pastors and 14 percent of pastors admit they currently struggle with using porn.”
47 percent of Christian men and 12 percent of Christian women in general seek out porn at least once or twice a month.
Recent statistics suggest that women are being drawn into life-controlling sexual addiction lifestyles in greater and greater numbers.
Brothers and Sisters, as your pastor and as your elder brother & friend in Christ I want to urge and encourage you just as Paul encourages Timothy to flee from youthful passions. Going after youthful passions will never give you the pleasure and joy your soul is seeking for. If that was true that then we would never feel guilty and shameful about ourselves once we’ve indulged in such activities.
Only Jesus can satisfy the deepest longings and fill our hearts with true pleasures of life.
I remember a picture my youth pastor shared with us when we were young about fleeing from sexual sins. He asked us to consider ‘fleeing’ as running from a mad dog on a street chasing to bite you.
Joseph in the old testament when tempted by Potipher’s wife who caught hold of his garment ran like a mad guy leaving his garment behind.
Youthful passions steal our love and devotion to Christ and make us ineffective for the Kingdom work. Sexual pleasures are only meant to be enjoyed within the boundaries of marriage, and any sexual endeavours outside marriage can destroy our married lives, it can destroy the lives of our children.
It is Devil’s weapon meant to steal, kill and destroy us.
Jesus on the other hand said in John 10:10 “I have come to give life and life in abundance”
What do you chose this morning? Do you want to choose your momentary pleasure that causes lifetime pain? Or do you want to choose a lifetime devotion that promises life in abundance?
I hope and pray that you chose what is right in God.
How do we then deal with youthful passions that confront us every day?
The answer is found in the remaining versus – Just fleeing away from youthful passions is not enough but we need to now flee towards something better, something sustainable … something that will now satisfy our deepest longings.
Verse 22 Pauls says “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on to the Lord from a pure heart”.
Let look at each of these elements one by one.
Number 1 … Pursuing RIGHTEOUSNESS
The meaning of the word righteousness is “justice, justness, or divine holiness”. In the broadest sense, righteousness can be defined as “the condition of being acceptable to God as made possible by God”. God’s standard is what defines true righteousness; His power is what enables it. Unless God is its author, we will never possess righteousness. No amount of man-made effort will result in righteousness. To be righteous is to be right with God.
To pursue righteousness means we must recognize that we cannot please God in our sinful state (Romans 8:8). We turn from trying to justify ourselves by our good deeds and instead seek the mercy of God. We desire that He transform our minds (Romans 12:2) and conform us “to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
We pursue righteousness when we pursue the character of Christ and desire holiness more than fleshly indulgence. Remember the cross chart we saw in the Gospel centred lessons… As we grow and march ahead in our Christian faith there are two things that happen. Number one we will grow in awareness of God’s holiness (when we start reading the bible, when we encounter his presence) and number two we will grow in awareness of our sinfulness (when we see our failures in keeping up with Gods standards). The only way the gap between our awareness of God’s holiness and the awareness of our sinfulness can we bridged is when we daily treasure & appreciate The CROSS – The Life, Death, & Resurrection of Jesus in our lives. “He must increase & I must decrese”
What does it mean practically? It means every day when we get up from our bed instead of worrying about life, instead of feeling guilty of our sins we simply look to God in pray and thank him for his wonderful gift of salvation which makes us righteous before him … one that he gave us through the sacrificial death of his son Jesus Christ.
Number 2 … Pursuing Faith
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Perhaps no other component of the Christian life is more important than faith. We cannot purchase it, sell it or give it to our friends. So what is faith and what role does faith play in the Christian life?
The dictionary defines faith as “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.” It also defines faith as “belief in and devotion to God.” The Bible has much more to say about faith and how important it is. In fact, it is so important that, without faith, we have no place with God, and it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). According to the Bible, faith is belief in the one, true God without actually seeing Him.
Pursuing faith simply means to believe in this one true God … to arrive at a place where we are no more wavering in our beliefs and completely trusting in his ability to save us, to protect us, to provide for us.
How is it connected to fleeing from youthful pleasure? Often times we get carried away to give in to sin (even sexual sins) because of our wavering faith. When things don’t happen the way we expect it to happen? When our day at work is so hard that we fail to see God in control? When we fall sick and feel weak in our bodies? When we fail to get the job we desire? When there is delay in finding our life partner? When we compare ourselves with others and wonder why isn’t my life as colorful as his?
If you have to discuss your frustrations with your earthly friends their suggestion will be to go have a drink and get drunk and forget all your pain, which I believe leads to many more complications.
Pursing faith means to stand strong even in your darkest moments and trust that God knows best and he is working in your life. You can’t see it but its there.
I remember my times of frustration at work especially when I used to travel all the way to Vashi and then attend business management lectures in the evenings. All of this while I was married and had our first son. It was tough and I had to believe that God was at work and is working out something beautiful for me. All I need was to have faith in him.
Number 3 … Pursuing Love
Now that we know that we stand righteous before God because of his son Jesus Christ.
In John 15:16 Jesus said “You did not choose me, but I chose you”.
In Ephesians 1:4 Paul reminds – “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
These verse shows how much God himself is pursuing a relationship with us. He desires to be with us. Think about that. Our response to that reality tells a lot about our relationship with God.
Do you look to Jesus as the Lover of your soul .. And just as we fall in love or get infatuated with the opposite sex where we go any length to spend time with them, talk to them, stay faithful to them. Do we think of and love our True lover Jesus in that manner.
I remember when I fell in love with Jane and started talking to her on the phone. I would go to any length to speak to her and hear her voice. Instead of taking a bus or a rickshaw to travel to college or work I would walk so I can save money to speak to her from the public phone booth. I’ve spend hours trying to write a poem on her birthday and even spend days to express my love through paintings and sketches. Nothing else seemed important in life except for the fact that I needed to get a good job to be able to get married to her.
If we can go to such lengths to express our feelings and pursue our earthly companions – Imagine how much more do we need to pursue the eternal lover of our soul. The one who continues to love us even though we keep betraying him through our words and actions every single day.
King David looked at God in that manner when he wrote in Psalms 139:17
How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!
No wonder God calls David a man of his own heart.
Pursuing Love is to get into a deeper relationship with Jesus like never before. When compared to our temporary lust for sexuality can we see true love in the eyes of our beloved.
Number 4 … Pursuing Peace
Peace is something everyone wants, yet few seem to find. What is peace? It can be defined as “tranquility, harmony, or security.”
In the Old Testament, the primary Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom, and it refers to relationships between people (Genesis 34:21), nations (1 Kings 5:12), and God with men (Psalm 85:8). Peace is a desired status in each of these arenas, and shalom is often tied to a covenant or a promise kept.
Peace is directly related to the actions and attitudes of individuals; but it is ultimately a gift from God (Isaiah 45:7; Leviticus 26:6; John 14:27). The presence of peace indicates God’s blessing on man’s obedience (Isaiah 32:17; Malachi 2:5) and faith (Isaiah 26:3). There is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22).
Everyone desires to have peace in their life. (Shanti chahiye)
Thousands of men even go to lengths of disconnecting themselves and live isolated lives on the mountains in search of peace.
But true peace is only found in Jesus. John 14:27 Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
The moment we fall into a sexual sin the first thing we lose is our peace.
Pursuing peace means to pursue a right standing with God by being obedient to his words.
As Paul describes in 1 Timothy 2:22 by pursuing the right things “we join with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart”, with a clear conscience.
Jinson would agree with me if I say that for us to stand here and preach on a Sunday morning, we can never do it if our hearts are not at peace with God. The struggle is not to prepare our sermons text but more often it is to come to peace with God in our hearts.
Apart for these instructions on fleeing away from youthful passions Paul also tells them to stay away from foolish, ignorant controversies – I believe we’ve already heard a bit of what that means in our previous sermons.
Verse 24 onwards Paul give specific instruction to Timothy on how to conduct himself – “And the Lord’s servant[e] must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
I don’t think I’m going spend time explaining the rest of the passage as I believe they are self-explanatory. But here’s what I want to say as I conclude.
We can go back this morning with a renewed mind and understanding of what the scriptures have to say about youthful passions, but unless we truly repent and turn away from our sinful habits and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace we will never see and experience the true joy of being a Christian.
I would encourage you to connect with someone during this week and share your life, confess your sins, pray with each other and make a U-turn towards a fruitful, joyous and fulfilling Christian life.