In my recent conversations about racial injustice, I have encountered some Christians who fit into one of two categories: either they don’t know some truth of God’s Word and need to be educated, or they know the Bible well but find it difficult to connect and apply it to their...
“Do your best,” the apostle Paul writes to protégé Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God has one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Paul is promoting a kind of eager, committed persistence for the truth that the flawless Word of God inspires in us who believe.
According to 2 Timothy 2:15-19, we can learn to stand in truth and against false teaching for at least seven reasons:
- God is to be pleased.
- False teaching leads to ungodliness.
- False teaching quickly spreads.
- The faith of some believers might be upset by false teaching.
- A firm foundation already exists.
- God differentiates between those who spread truth versus falsehood.
- False teaching is sin.
Paul unfolds his reasons about fervency for the truth on the basis of who God is and the kind of regard we are to have for Him and those around us.
Because God is Worthy
1.) God is to be pleased.
According to Paul’s teaching, one reason to be firm in the faith is for God to be pleased. Timothy was to view his work as a preacher/ leader as being directly for the Lord. In our contexts, we can consider our handling of God’s Word also as labor we present to Him in love.
We stand against false teaching because God is highly worthy to be pleased with our deeds.
2.) False teaching leads to ungodliness.
Paul progresses to instruct Timothy that any talk irreverent toward Scriptural truth will only produce more and more ungodliness. If believers present the Word of God as trivial, as means for personal gain or influence, or as mere material for displays of intelligence, wit, or debate skill, these self-serving attitudes can be readily replicated by others—far more readily than the devotion that comes from following God with one’s whole heart.
We stand against false—irreverent—teaching because we follow a God who deserves our fear and devotion so that our human words might reflect well upon the worth of divine ones.
Because People Stand to Be Deluded
3.) False teaching quickly spreads.
In 2 Timothy 2:17, Paul reiterates that irreverence can spread like a deadly condition. If we are dismissive about the importance of studying, discerning, and conveying the truth of God, others around us stand to be swayed.
Those who might have been receptive to the authority of the Scriptures can find their interest in a complete commitment to Christ and His Word diminished if a less demanding alternative is made to seem viable.
4.) The faith of some believers might be upset by false teaching.
False teaching can also bear an impression upon committed believers. 2 Timothy 2:18 teaches: “[Those who have swerved from the truth] are upsetting the faith of some.” People who have been born again may entertain doubts about orthodox truths because falsehood can often sound profound and persuasive, what was once clear becoming clouded.
We stand against false teaching so that the seeker is not deterred from having ears that hear and the believer is not deluded into believing he or she has an unstable foundation.
Because God Has Spoken
At least three more reasons for determined persistence in truth are conveyed in Timothy 2:19: “But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.’”
5.) A firm foundation already exists.
As Paul’s ultimate impetus for presenting oneself as a right handler of God’s Word, he indicates that God’s truth cannot be broken—that its authority stands regardless of the actions or attitudes of men. So, we stand against false teaching because God’s Word is exactly that.
6.) God differentiates between those who spread truth and falsehood.
By way of support, Paul outlines two primary inscriptions on God’s unbreakable foundation. First, God is able to differentiate between those who speak truth versus those who speak falsehood.
While people might be deluded by false teaching, God’s perception is piercing. He knows.
We stand against false teaching because we are not judged by others’ reception to God’s message. Should world, friends, or family reject us for truth—that God sees us and knows us can be our strength and comfort.
7.) False teaching is sin.
Paul then refers to an activity that ought to characterize believers—while not being sinless, we are to be those departing from our sins. We stand against false teaching because teaching God’s truth falsely is iniquity.
Two Ways I Stand Against False Teaching
As a church member
In my daily life, one way I stand against false teaching is through my ongoing commitment to the kind of home church I have selected.
I have confidence that those entering the place our church worships will receive words from the pulpit that arise from the Scriptures and that have been presented to and weighed before God prior to being delivered to the congregation.
And, I have confidence in the eagerness of my church to attend to the truth of all that is being taught throughout its leadership, from pastor and elder to small group leader.
As a parent
Another way I stand against false teaching is through mothering my four-year-old daughter. I engage with her in apologetic and polemical work as we discuss the world in which we live—its reception to Christ and its favorite messages to her age group.
As a family, we also seek to find new ways to discuss and describe the gospel message, teaching nuances and applications. This guards against misconceptions that further teaching can dispel and against the fallenness of human memory that can find itself withered where once stoutly built. All of this I do as a follower of Christ who is ever needful of Him and His cross.
So, as often as I sin against my daughter, I seek to make swift apology—to uphold what is right through failure to do it. After apologizing, I often reaffirm to her the truth of the perfection of God, who never does her wrong—and we rejoice in Him, and His truthfulness and graciousness, together.
Being firm in the faith can be considered a habitual occupation—a layer of good work for the Lord that rests atop the rest of the labor of our days. We can hear Paul’s instructions to Timothy like a refreshing call of reminder to be fervent about what is true, about the faith that has been delivered once for all to us, the saints (Jude 3).