WHY WE NEED GOD’S WORD
2 Timothy 3:1–5, 13–17
As Christians, we no longer have a privileged position in the 21st century, if we ever had such a position of influence. Evil appears to dominate. Christ called us to live as counterrevolutionaries in an ungodly culture. God revealed to us in Scripture a plan for living victoriously in an unbelieving culture.
Sin abounds in our culture. (1–5)
The chapter begins with a command: “Know this.” Know hard times will come in the last days. Yet Paul did not describe the last days. He listed various characteristics of people in the last days as well as sinful attitudes and sinful behaviors. The beginning, the center and the end of Paul’s list focus on the objects of love — people are either lovers of self or lovers of God. Within the list, Paul described people as lovers of money, unloving, failing to love what is good and loving pleasure.
Thus the inability to love is the foundation of all the other sinful attitudes and actions Paul mentioned. The absence of love for others produces pride, demeaning others, disobeying parents, refusing to be reconciled, slander, brutality and the actions of a traitor. While Christians are to witness to the people Paul described, he also commanded Christians to “avoid these people.” Paul warned these people may have “the appearance of godliness.”
Avoiding sin requires the wisdom of God’s word. (13–15)
While Paul condemned the direction of society moving away from the things of God, he commended believers who followed His teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love and endurance. Paul described evil people as becoming worse. Sin in a person progresses from bad to worse. Because of the downward spiral of sin, Paul admonished Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed.”
Paul explained the importance of Scripture in the battle against sin. First, believers must be taught Scripture, and parents must teach Scripture from the time of their children’s infancy. Satan and evil people have a plan for deceiving people; God has a plan to “give you wisdom for salvation.”
God’s word comes straight from God to mature and equip us. (16–17)
First, Paul described the nature of Scripture. In the original language, Scripture means writing. Since Scripture is writing inspired by God, Scripture is profitable. We often make time to become profitable monetarily, yet we should devote time to Scripture reading so we receive profit from reading the Bible. Perhaps the greatest profit we can gain from Scripture is discerned in the message of wisdom the Bible proclaims about salvation.
Then Paul set forth the benefits of the Bible. The Bible profits us in four ways. First, the Bible is profitable for teaching doctrinal truth. Second, the Bible is profitable for rebuking believers. The Bible will reveal when our beliefs and lifestyles are not in line with God’s character and will. Third, the Bible is profitable for correcting, pointing us to the way to get back on the right track. Fourth, the Bible is profitable for training in righteousness — doing what God requires.
By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida