Thursday, June 27, 2013

Turning away from wickedness, a must

Recently this text again caught my attention, and when I decided to add it to my "Words for all seasons" on this blog-site, I was surprised that I had NOT done any updating on these words since August 2012; and guess what, the last word on it, was the same 2 Tim 2:19!

2 Timothy 2:19 - Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."

I have preferred the KJ version (which I will explain in a while) - Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

The foundation of God
Verse 19 started with “nevertheless”, the foundation of God standeth sure, … What this means is that, despite what was said preceding to this verse, the foundation of God stands firm.  What was said before this? 

Verses 16-18 revealed to us, what was said was “propagation of godless chatter (NIV) or profane and vain babblings (KJV)”. Now, these are NOT idle/empty talks per se, but profanity against God and His teachings, and these are untruths as opposed to truths of God.  Despite the propagation of these, the foundation of God stands firm.  One untruth or profanity named there (in v18) was that the teaching that our resurrections had taken place!

We are destroyed when our faith is destroyed
About this “already resurrected” teaching (of Hymenaeus and Philetus), the Apostle Paul said, “destroys” faith (v18). 

2 Tim 2:17-18 –
17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.

Untruths about the core tenants of the faith or core theology such as the death and resurrection of our Lord, His works of redemption, and our hope of salvation and eventual glorification, they destroy faith.

John 10:10a said that Satan came to steal, kill and destroy; John 10:10b – Jesus came that we might have life and life more abundantly.  You will have noticed that “destroy” was put after “killing” (in John 10:10).  In other words, to have us killed (die, physically), is NOT the worst Satan can do to us, destruction is the worst; and destruction here refers to the 2nd death which means, being thrown eventually in the burning lake of fire of Hell to be tormented there, for eternity.  When a believer’s faith is destroyed, he no longer is on track for eternal life in Heaven, but is once again bound for Hell.  Yes, the passage was referring to believers; for only the believers have a faith to be destroyed (an unbeliever has no faith)!

Does one immediately have his faith destroyed?
The Apostle Paul gave us, here, one scenario of how it could happen.

Verse 16 NIV – Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.

Verse 16 KJV - But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

The KJ version gives us a better representation.  For the NIV, one still needs to define what is “indulge in it”, and some people use this as the “escape clause”, by such thinking as, “I was NOT teaching it-what or propagating it-what; I only believe it”. 

Well, you are what you believe!  In other words, you live out your belief; and when you do that you are teaching it or propagating it by your own living example!  The KJV gives us the understanding that profane and vain babblings (which I already defined above), they (the profane and vain babblings) lead to greater ungodliness. In other words, the more and the longer you take it in, ungodliness in you can grow.  When ungodliness grows and festers, your correct belief system, faith, will suffer; over time, your faith gets destroyed.  This is why we are to reject heretic and apostate teachings; and this was why Apostle Paul warned Timothy, and instructed the latter how to handle such false teachings and teachers.

Still, stick to the truths
So, in verse 19, the Apostle Paul was assuring believers that despite and regardless, the spread of such false teachings, God’s foundation remains firm.

God’s foundation is first of all, truths.  Truths do NOT change; this contributes to God’s foundation remaining firm.  Truth is a big word, it covers a lot of ground, so to speak; did Scripture leave some clue as to what constituted the foundation of God’s rule?

What constitutes the foundation of God’s throne?
Ps 89:14a and Ps 97:2 both gave us the foundation of God’s throne as His righteousness and justice:

Ps 89:14a - Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;

PS 97:2 - Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

The Apostle Paul did NOT quote Ps 89:14a or Ps 97:2, but he was NOT far from it.  Instead of quoting the twin pillars as in Ps 89:14 and Ps 97:2, Paul said there were these 2 inscriptions (on the pillars): “The Lord knoweth them that are his” and “And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity”.  They are referencing the same things as in the 2 psalm verses.

The righteousness pillar
The 1st pillar of the foundation in the psalm verses, is righteousness.  Instead of saying “righteousness” was inscribed as the foundation, Paul said everyone who nameth the name of Christ must depart from iniquity.  Meaning, everyone who confesses or professes the name of the Lord, must turn away from wickedness, which is the very opposite of righteousness. 

I have said at the start, that I have preferred the KJ version of v19, over the NIV, because the NIV used only the word, “confess”, in place of “nameth”.  It should be confess or profess.  Again, some people try to “escape” through this NIV “escape clause” - confess.  Their argument is this: “See, see, it said there, “confess”, meaning, it was only at the moment of conversion or born-again, that the person must turn away from wickedness, and NOT afterwards, for “confess” was generally used in 1st time profession of something.” (proper usage of confess and profess is such: 1st time – we say, “we confess”, subsequently, “we profess”). (Of course, more heretic ones even claim no confession or repentance is even needed at conversion!)

Whereas, the KJV’s use of “nameth” carried with it the meaning of “everyone who rely on the name of Lord, he must depart from wickedness (be embracing righteousness)”.

So, now banish from your thought, the notion and heretic teaching that a believer needs only to turn away from wickedness at his born-again, and have no need of doing so, perseveringly, subsequently.  As a foundation of God’s throne and rule, righteousness is expected to be embraced by us all, on-goingly.

The justice pillar
Paul’s equivalent was “The Lord knoweth them that (who) are his”.  Why did Paul NOT just say, “Justice was inscribed”?  Indeed, Paul was meaning to say justice!  We have expounded already (see above) about what was said, preceding the 2 Tim 2:19 verse – that there were these false preachers/teachers claiming their teachings or theology or doctrines were correct and propagating them, and had them spread (like gangrene!).  Typically, in such, even as it is today, both sides, the true gospel believers/preachers and the heretic believers/preachers, each would claim they are right; in other words, each said that justice would prevail for them.  In fact, the tendency to quarrel would be so strong, that Paul warned against quarrelling (v14).  Paul, we believe, drew the “The Lord knoweth them that (who) are his”, from the failed revolt of Korah in Numbers 16.

In that Num 16 account, Moses’ handling showed us that we have to abide by God’s justice. 

What is justice?  Simply it is what God considers as just is justice!  As a side, there is no such thing as equality for all; there is only justice with God.  You are born into a rich family; I, a poor family, there is no equality (Please do NOT wrongly tell people there is equality with God; the Bible does NOT record such); yet there is justice with God.  For example, God might have endowed me with intelligence above the one born with a silver spoon, or that I have been endowed with a talent that I can make a living with, or that God would protect and provide for me, as I follow Him.  The point is that God knows about everyone who approaches Him. 

God is the knower of hearts of men (Acts 1:24, KJV).  And those of us who are believers or His children, God knows us by the interaction of the Holy Spirit with our spirit.  So, at any point in time, God knows who is for Him and who is NOT!  Whatever Holy Spirit considers just for you, for the time and season, that is justice of God for you. For example, Scripture recorded for us, that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, He gives to each as He determines (1 Cor 12:11; also 1 Cor 12:4-6); in this too, God is just.

In that failed revolt of Korah and his fellow Levites against the High Priest, Aaron, Moses simply relied on God was just, for He knew who He had given what or He had called to what (similar to 1 Cor 12:4-6).  Korah and his fellow Levites were separated by God to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to people, and here they wanted to challenge the position of Aaron, the High Priest.  We read, in Num 16:5 Moses said this: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him…”  The account ended with the Korah’s camp gotten swallowed up by the ground opening up!  Justice was served.  Aaron was vindicated.

Obviously, “who belongs to him (God)” means more than like in “this wallet belongs to me”! You should know that both Korah and Aaron belonged to God.  Firstly, they were both God’s children or people.  Secondly, both held position of office, but different offices, one was a Levite head (Korah), another, the High Priest, NOT just a Levite.  It is, when you belong (to God), you don’t just belong (as in the wallet belongs to me; that is given), you should also be at the station God deems just. 

Do you know that, in salvation, we are all soldiers of God?  Yes, we belong to God, but if we are NOT at our station God deems just, we could have mutinied! When you have mutinied, do you still belong to God?  Whose justice can you still fall back on?  Whose side are you still on?  Couldn’t the roaring lion devour you?  Think about it, what will happen to you if you mutinied against the USA – punishable by death!  What happened to Korah?  The ground swallowed him (and the others) up!

Don’t handle “God knows who are His, lightly”!  Many believers think that they, without self-examination, can simply claim “God knows who are His”, and expect to be safe.  For a start, everyone who confesses or professes the name of the Lord must turn from wickedness.  Revolt or rebellion, for example, is already wickedness or is iniquity!  Furthermore, as I have said, when it is foundational, it is applying on-going, meaning, both righteousness and justice we are to be embraced on-goingly and perseveringly. 

I don’t know you
Again I remind, just because we are a child of God from our born-again or conversion, it does NOT mean God necessarily know us all the time; just as Korah in the Numbers 16 account was a child of God.  And so, please do NOT embrace heretic teaching that says righteous living is NOT key in our working out of our salvation (Phil 2:12); righteous living and justice must be embraced all the time, failing which, you must come back into it.  It can be, if you don’t embrace justice (His justice), God may say to you, “I don’t know you!”  It can also be, if you don’t embrace righteous living, God may say to you, “I don’t know you!”  Obviously, if you pervert His truths or propagate untruths, you are NOT embracing His justice, for justice is about truths and God’s decisions, which must be right and just (they cannot be otherwise).

Applications included these:
Matt 7:21-23 - 21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Luke 6:46-49 - 46"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? 47I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."

Pro 1:29-33 - 29 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD {fear the Lord here refers to hate evil or wickedness; “fear of the LORD” - KJV}, 30 since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me {in so doing, you are embracing His righteousness and justice} will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm."

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

PS: Whether it pertains to salvation, Christian living or service, turning away from wickedness is a must.

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