Today’s selected reading continues in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy who was a spiritual son in the faith. More specifically today’s passages begins with the fifteenth verse of the second chapter and continues through to the eighth verse of the fourth chapter: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babbling: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom Hymenaeus and PHiletus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ departs from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and os silver, but also of wood, and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:15-22).
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strives. And they servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:22-26).
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own salves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, in to invent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Joanne’s and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was” (2 Timothy 3:1-9).
“But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax words and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesu. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:10-17).
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and Corrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make fool proof of thy minister. For I am not ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:1-8).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul seeking to exhort and encourage Timothy beyond what he has already done in the previous epistle and what we find within this epistle thus far. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy—and not only the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy but also the first epistle—is that that they were written in order to provide a tremendous amount of instruction to this faithful minister in the Lord. With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to what Scripture says and speaks concerning Timothy beginning within the New Testament book of Acts. I am convinced there is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in Scripture concerning Timothy for they help set the stage and background—not only for the instruction found in these epistles but also what type of man and minister he was. In all reality there is something we must understand concerning Timothy—and not only Timothy but also anyone who would seek to be a minister of the Lord. The truth of the matter is that while we might be called to be a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ and have been called to be found faithful and wise stewards of what has been entrusted into our care we have first and foremost been called to be faithful as men—even faithful as women. It would be very easy to focus our attention solely on the need to be faithful ministers in the sight and presence of the living God and completely ignore and/or forget that before we were called to be faithful ministers of the gospel we have indeed been called to be faithful men and faithful women.
I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within the first and second epistles written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the need for us to be faithful as men in the sight and presence of the living God. If we seek to pursue faithfulness in ministry, however, we neglect and completely ignore the call to be found faithful as men and women who have been called to righteousness, holiness, purity and truth we have sorely and severely missed the point. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is when you take the time to think about it in relation to our lives. There are countless “ministers” within many of our churches today who have sought to ensure they have been faithful ministers in the sight and presence of the living God and yet they completely neglect and ignore the fact that they have been called to be faithful as men and faithful as women in the sight and presence of the living God. With this being said I would dare say our faithfulness as ministers of the living and eternal God can never and will never rise above our faithfulness as men and women in His sight and presence. Despite our best efforts and well designed intentions and plans to be found as faithful ministers of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ we have indeed been called to be those who seek to be faithful in the sight and presence of the living God. What’s more is that even when you read the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find him giving the qualifications for being found faithful in the sight and presence of the living God. I am convinced that before we delve into what Scripture reveals about young Timothy we need to first examine that which the apostle Paul revealed concerning the character and person of those who would be deacons and elders within the church. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the third chapter of the first epistle beginning with the first verse:
“This is a faithful saying: if a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)’ not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:1-7).
“Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 3:8-13).
Please pay close attention to the words which are found in these two portions of Scripture for within them we find the apostle Paul writing and speaking of those who would seek to be a bishop as well as those who would desire to be deacons in the midst of the house of the living God. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that before we are a minister we are first and foremost a man. Before we are a father and/or a husband we are first and foremost a man. Before we are a wife and/or a mother we are a woman. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the importance of faithfulness within our daily lives as men and women who name the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a great need for us as the saints of God to be those who truly recognize and understand that we have indeed been called to be those who walk in sincerity, those who walk in truth, those who walk in obedience, those who walk in righteousness and those who walk in faithfulness in the sight and presence of the living God. I am convinced there are a number of “ministers” within our churches today who seem to have forgotten the fact that they have indeed been called to be those who are first and foremost pleasing in the sight of the living God. Remember the Jordan River when the Lord Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and how the heavens were opened unto Him, how the Holy Spirit descended and lighted upon Him in the form of a dove and how the voice of the Father broke through the silence and holiness of that moment and made a powerful and profound declaration concerning the Son. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the four New Testament gospel accounts of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ beginning with the third chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew:
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me? But Jesus answered and said to him, Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).
“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9-11).
“When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptized with the Holy Sprit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).
Pay close attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for before Jesus had ever performed a single miracle, before Jesus healed anyone, before Jesus delivered anyone by casting out unclean spirits, before Jesus overcame the temptations of the devil in the wilderness, before Jesus said or did anything to demonstrate and manifest the kingdom of heaven He heard the voice of the Father speaking to and concerning Him. What’s more is this voice of the Father would make a wonderful and profound declaration concerning Jesus—something that had absolutely nothing to do with any type of ministry He engaged Himself in over the next three and a half years. There is something truly captivating and astonishing when you think about the baptism of the Lord Jesus for up until this moment in time the Lord Jesus spent the first thirty years of His life living in the Galilean town of Nazareth. For thirty years Jesus lived and dwelt among those in Nazareth simply doing life with them not trying nor seeking to manifest Himself as the Son of the living God. In fact when those in Galilee began seeing the miracles Jesus performed and when they heard some of the words He spoke they would look back upon His life and remember that He was [as it was supposed] Joseph’s son. Moreover they would see and observe His brethren who were present and among them—something that would only come as a direct result of having grown up among and with them and their getting to know Him during those first thirty years of His life. Even when Jesus began to demonstrate and manifest Himself as the Son of the living God many in Galilee would and could not comprehend that for they could not get past who He was as a man and as the son of Joseph the carpenter in Nazareth. Oh this is something we must needs understand for I am convinced there was absolutely nothing Jesus said or did during those first thirty years that gave any indication that He was the Son of the living God, that He was the Savior of the world and that He would be anointed by the Holy Spirit with power.
I find the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River by John the Baptist so incredibly impactful and powerful for when you take the time to think about it you will not only find the Father declaring His affection toward the Son but you will also find the Father expressing His pleasure and delight in the Son. By declaring that Jesus was His “beloved” Son the Father was expressing His love and affection toward Him while declaring He was pleased in the Son expressed His delight. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that not only did the Father delight in the Son before He would even engage Himself in minister but the Father also loved the Son and was kindly affectioned toward Him beforehand. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the affection, the love, the delight and the pleasure of the living God in us as His sons and daughters before we ever even do anything for Him.
I sit here today thinking about and considering this and I can’t help but think about how many men and women think and feel as though they have to do for the living and eternal God before He will be pleased with and delight in them. There are countless men and women among us within many of our churches who think and feel as though they have to somehow do something for the living and eternal God before He can ever delight and be pleased with them. There are countless men and women who think and feel as though they have to put on a show and put on a performance in order for the living and eternal God to be pleased with them. Like Jacob who dressed himself up as his brother Esau that he might get the blessing of his father so there are countless men and women who feel as though they have to dress up as someone and something they’re not in order to get the pleasure and delight in the presence of the living God. I can’t help but think about the fact there are countless men and women among us who enter into the house of the living God on Sunday morning after Sunday morning and seek to put on a show and performance in the sight and presence of the living God to somehow try and gain the approval of the Father. What we must needs recognize and understand is that this is a stark contrast from others who like the scribes and Pharisees seek to gain and obtain approval from men. Oh I am convinced there are those among us who seek to put on a show and pretend to be someone they’re not that they might somehow obtain the pleasure and delight of the Father while there are others among us who seek to put on a show and be someone they’re not that they might gain the approval and pleasure of men. It is with this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found—first in the Old Testament book of Genesis as well as within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke:
“Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, My son. And he answered, Here I am. Then he said, Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death. Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me. And make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my would may bless you before I die. Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt game and to bring it. So Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son, saying, Indeed I heard your father speak to Esau your brother, saying, Bring me game and make savory food for me, that I may eat it and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to what I command you. Go now to the flock and bring me from there two choice kids of the goats, and I will make savory food from them for your father, such as he loves. Then you shall take it to your father, that he may eat it, and that he may bless you before his death. And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Look, Esau’s my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth skinned man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing. But his mother said to him, Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me. And he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother made savory food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the choice clothes of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them oN Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. So he went to his father and said, My father. And he said, Here I am. Who are you, my son. Jacob said to his father, I am Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me. But Isaac said to his son, How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the LORD your God brought it to me. Isaac said to Jacob, Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not. So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he did not recognize him because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. Then he said, Are you really my son Esau? He said, I am. He said, Bring it near me, and I will eat of my son’s game, so that my soul may bless you. So he brought I near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, Come near now and kiss me, my son. And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed. Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earthy, and plenty of grain and vine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Curse be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you” (Genesis 27:1-30).
“Now it happened, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. He also had made savory food, and brought it to his father, and said to his father, Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that your soul may bless me. And his father Isaac said to him, Who are you? So he said, I am your son, your firstborn, Esau. Then Isaac trembled exceedingly, and said, Who? Where is the one who hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it before you came, and I have blessed him—and indeed he shall be blessed. When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, Bless me—me also, O my father! But he said, y our brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing. And Esau said, Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing! And he said, Have you not reserved a blessing for me? Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him.What shall I do now for you, my son? And Esau said to his father, Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me—me also, O my father! And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; and it shall come to pass, when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck” (Genesis 27:31-40).
AND HE DID NOT RECOGNIZE HIM! I can’t help but be incredibly challenged by those words which Moses recorded in the Old Testament book of Genesis. It’s absolutely astonishing when you take the time to consider that Jacob and his mother Rebekah worked together to deceive Isaac his father. What makes this all the more interesting when you take the time to consider it is that it wasn’t even Jacob’s idea to deceive his father in the first place. It was his mother Rebekah’s idea to not only dress his son Jacob in his brother Esau’s clothes, and not only to take of the skin of the animal that had been killed and place it on her son but also to bring that which his father delighted in that he might somehow attain the blessing which was reserved for the firstborn. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous reality that when Jacob was in the presence of his father Isaac he was asked more than once who he was and whether or not he was Esau. Each time Jacob was asked whether or not he was his brother Esau he would affirm that he was that he might deceive his father. It’s quite significant that when you read the words found in these passages of Scripture Isaac did not recognize that the one before him in his presence was indeed Jacob. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that there are countless men and women among us within our churches today who are pretending to be someone and something they’re not and were never created or intended to be. Such individuals are and have been seeking to somehow gain the approval and blessing of the Father through performance and through pretending—two of the most dangerous things one can do in the house of the living God.
PERFORMANCE AND PRETENDING! Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves when thinking about what we are trying to accomplish—either in our prayer closets or even in the house of the Lord—is whether or not we are indeed seeking to put on a performance. One of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are attempting to put on a performance either for man or whether we are putting on a performance for God Himself. What’s more is that when you think about and consider the narrative of the scribes and the Pharisees during the days of the Lord Jesus Christ it’s that they were attempting to both. The scribes and the Pharisees were not only seeking to put on a performance for man but they were also seeking to put on a performance in the sight and presence of the living God. If you read the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the fifteenth and twenty-third chapters of the same book you will find tremendous language concerning the scribes and the Pharisees and how they desired to be seen and heard of men. The scribes and the Pharisees thought and believing they were pleasing the living God and continually gave themselves to performances thinking and believing they would somehow gain the approval and pleasure of the living God of heaven and earth. What’s more is the scribes and Pharisees—despite the fact they sat in the seat of Moses—were doing nothing more than pretending to be someone and something they were not. You cannot read the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and not encounter and come face to face with the incredible truth that these religious individuals deliberately and intentionally put on a performance and pretended to be someone they weren’t thinking and believing they could somehow gain the approval of both men and the living God. It is with this mind and having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospels narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the sixth chapter:
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen of them. Otero wise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret: and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1-4).
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secretly will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:5-15).
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:16-18).
“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread. He answered and said to them, Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and your mother; and, He who cruses father or mother, let him be put to death. But you say, Whosever says to his father or mother, Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God—then he need not honor his father or mother. Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:1-9).
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying: The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But you, do not be called Rabbi; for one is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:1-12).
“But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is wine, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, who say, Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it. Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, Whoever swears by the alter, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it. Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to thee blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:13-36).
Pay close attention to the words which are found in these particular passages of Scripture for within them we find powerful descriptions of those who were given to performance and pretending to be someone and something they weren’t and were never intended on being. If there is one thing we must needs understand about this it’s that the scribes and Pharisees were giving themselves over to performance and pretending in the house of the Lord and in the sight and presence of men. The sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel speaks of charitable deeds, fasting and prayer and how the hypocrites—the scribes and the Pharisees who were chief—desired to do these acts in the sight and presence of men. The scribes and the Pharisees were those who continually put on a performance thinking and believing they needed to do so in order to please and gain the approval of the living God. What we must needs recognize and understand is that while they thought and believing they were pleasing God they were also seeking the approval and accolades of man. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face with something which must be recognized and understood within our hearts and souls—namely that we cannot please both God and man. It is absolutely impossible to please the living God while at the same time seeking to please man. Even the apostle Paul—when writing unto the churches which were in Galatia—declared that if he sought to please man he would and could not please the living God. Oh that we who are the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ might be those who recognize and understand that we cannot please God while at the same time seeking the approval of man. It is absolutely impossible to be a man or a woman who truly seeks to please, glorify and honor the living and eternal God and at the same time thinking and believing we can seek the approval and accolades of man. With this being said it is important to note that we can and will have one or the other but we cannot have both. There is absolutely no man or woman who can have both the pleasure and delight of the living God and the approval and accolades of men.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for we must needs recognize the pleasure and delight of the living God is something that cannot be obtained by and through anything we can say or do. There is not a single man or woman among us within the house of the living God who can indeed obtain the pleasure, the delight and the approval of God through works. Perhaps the single greatest way to understand this is through the idea of justification for there is not a single man or woman alive who can be and indeed is justified by and through works. There is no amount of works which you or I could do that can make us justified in the sight and presence of the living God. There is not a single man or woman among us within the house of the living God who can indeed be justified in the sight and presence of the living God by and through any amount of works—regardless of how many or how wonderful those works are. This is indeed what the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Ephesus as well as the saints which were among the churches in Galatia. This is something we must needs acknowledge within our hearts and lives for anyone who names the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and seeks to walk with and follow Him must needs recognize that they are indeed justified by and through faith alone. What’s more is that we justified by faith according to the free gift of God that is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh I am convinced that before we return to the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy we must turn and direct our attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome as well as the words which were written in the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia:
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is botanist then? It is excluded. B y what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans 3:21-31).
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that w hill we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:1-11).
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom he Foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:28-39).
“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I though the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:17-21).
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Just as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, In you all the nations shall be blessed. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham” (Galatians 3:1-9).
The words which the apostle Paul wrote unto both the saints which were at Rome as well as unto the churches which were in Galatia must needs be strongly considered if we are to understand that there is no amount of [good] works we can do to somehow obtain the approval and pleasure of the living God. If it is true that there is no amount of works we can do to be justified in the sight and presence of the living God then it also holds true there is no amount of works we can do to somehow obtain His divine pleasure and delight. When Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan River the heavens were opened before and unto Him, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the bodily form as a dove and the voice of the Father broke through the silence and holiness of that encounter and spoke directly unto and concerning the Son. The voice of the Father broke through the silence on this particular day and not only declared that Jesus was His beloved Son but also that He was well pleased in Him. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention and focus to the fact that the Father was pleased with the Son before he had overcome the temptation of the devil in the wilderness. The Father was pleased with and delighted in the Son before He had healed a single person of their disease and/or infirmity, before He had cleansed a single leper, before He raised a single person from the dead and before He caused the blind to see and the deaf to hear. There was absolutely nothing Jesus could do to obtain the pleasure and delight of the eternal Father for the Father’s pleasure and delight was based solely on the reality of His being Son. It was the relationship as Son that was the foundation of pleasure and delight and it is those we must acknowledge and understand within our own hearts and lives. We as the saints of God and as those who walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ must needs pay attention to the fact that we are first and foremost above everything else sons and daughters of the living God. It was to those who believed upon the name of the Lord Jesus who were given power and the rite to become sons and daughters of the Father.
It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to return back to the epistles which were written unto Timothy. When writing unto Timothy the apostle Paul referred to him as a true son in the faith as well as a beloved son—something which warrants strong consideration when reading these epistles. Although the apostle Paul was instructing Timothy to be a faithful minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ he was writing to him as a son—and not only as a son but as a true son and as a beloved son. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something to be said about the relationship as son that strikes at the very heart of absolutely everything. This is perhaps seen most clearly and perfectly in the Old Testament book of Proverbs when Solomon was writing to his son that he might encourage him in the ways of righteousness. I am convinced that if we want to truly understand the words which are found in the first and second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy we must needs understand just how important this concept of son truly is. The apostle Paul would instruct Timothy in matters of ministry, however, with this being said we must recognize and understand that he wrote to him as a son and would instruct him in matters of how to be a faithful man of character and integrity in the sight and presence of the living God. Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which Solomon wrote in the Old Testament book of Proverbs unto his own son when seeking to instruct him as a man—and not only as a man but also as a man who walked in the paths of righteousness in the sight and presence of the living God:
“My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. If they say, Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit; we shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your l to among us, let us all have one purse—My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; but they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners” (Proverbs 1:8-18).
“My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk uprightly; he guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path” (Proverbs 2:1-9).
“My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, not detest his correction; for whom the LORD loves he corrects, just a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:1-12).
“My son, let them not depart from your eyes—keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught. Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it, when you have it with you. Do not devise evil against your neighbor, for he dwells by you for safety’s sake. Do not strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm. Do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways; for the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD. But his secrete counsel is with the upright. The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the just. Surely he scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble. The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools” (Proverbs 3:21-35).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the instruction the apostle Paul gave unto Timothy. When beginning the first epistle written unto Timothy the apostle Paul addressed and referred to him as “a true son in the faith” while when writing the second epistle unto Timothy the apostle Paul addressed and referred to him as “a beloved son.” This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for this would come after a tremendous amount of time spent investing in and partnering together with him. The apostle Paul viewed Timothy as a true son in the faith and as a beloved son and when writing these epistles would indeed address him as such. Oh there is something about being addressed as son—and not only as son but ultimately as a beloved son. This is what I am convinced is so incredibly powerful about the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River for before anyone made a single proclamation concerning who they thought or believed Jesus to be the Father spoke unto and concerning Him. Before John the Baptist would emphatically proclaim that He was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world and was indeed the Son of God the Father broke through that holy moment and declared that Jesus was His beloved Son. Oh that we would truly recognize and understand this and how absolutely necessary it is to hear that we are a true son or daughter—and not only a true son or daughter but also a beloved son or daughter. There is a need within our hearts and souls to be men and women who truly recognize and understand that we have indeed been given power and the rite to become sons of the living God. It is truly something special when the voice of the Father breaks through the silence of our lives—and perhaps not only the silence of our lives but even the noise that is present all around us each and every day—and emphatically declares and proclaims that we are indeed His beloved son(s) and daughter(s) in whom he is well pleased.
Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to leave you with the instruction the apostle Paul gave to Timothy—first and foremost as a son and secondarily as a minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is the instruction the apostle Paul gave unto Timothy would first instruct and encourage him to be the man he had been called to be that he might be the minister he was called and ordained to be. Only to the degree and measure he became and walked in the reality of being the man he was called and created to be would he in turn be able to be the faithful minister he had been appointed and ordained to be. Only to the degree and measure that we are the man we were called and created to be or the woman we were called and created to be will we be able to be the minister(s) the living and eternal God has called us to be. This is something which we need to acknowledge and understand for we have indeed been called to be those who are first and foremost faithful as men and women who walk in obedience in the sight and presence of the living God and then walk as faithful stewards and ministers of what He has entrusted into our hands and unto our care. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are indeed becoming and being the man and the woman we have been called and were indeed created to be. Having said this I leave you with the instruction given unto Timothy as a means of instruction unto us—particularly and especially in this generation in which we are living:
“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:18-20).
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the elders hip. Mediate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” i(1 Timothy 4:12-16).
“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone had immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:11-16).
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us e richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babbling and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given u s a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).