1. What does the word “diligent” mean? (“Having or showing care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties.” Diligent is an adjective referring to conscientious and attentive devotion.)
2. What are some examples of diligence you see in the world? (We see it in the most common places as well as in special places. Diligence is seen in the person who is committed to caring for his/her family as they get up and go to work every day; the soldier, police officer, firefighter, nurse and so on.)
3. What are some ways in which diligence is needed in the Christian life? (The things we remind ourselves of almost weekly: Bible study, prayer, fellowship with God’s people, worship, ministry, and so on.)
4. If you were a teacher, what would you expect from your students to master a subject and excel in the classroom? (Good students don’t just come to class; they read the assigned texts and do their homework diligently. Students who approach a subject with curiosity and actively engage with the material not only master it faster but help other students in the process.)
Individuals who excel by diligence rather than innate brilliance serve as good role models for weaker students. Those who excel, no matter what barriers they must overcome to do so, encourage their teachers too and remind them why they became teachers!
Last week we discussed the value of enduring for Christ and remaining focused; today we’re going to discuss how Paul reminded Timothy of the importance of remaining diligent as a follower of Christ, giving careful attention to remain faithful to the truth of God’s Word.
Two Groups! Read 2 Timothy 2:14-19
The pronoun “them” may refer to the church as a whole but more likely points back to the faithful men Timothy was to train.
As we have learned, one of Paul’s primary motivations for writing these two letters to Timothy was to warn against false teachers and give Timothy some guidance as to how to deal with them. As the Christian stands up against false teachers, one result may be quarreling.
1. Why did Paul warn against such arguing about words? (It was useless, accomplishes nothing good, but can cause harm.)
When people and churches get caught up in majoring on the minors or begin distorting the gospel, the result can be the ruin of the hearers. Churches that forget why they exist often wander, wither, and die. Our purpose is to reach the world for Jesus.
When Paul says “leads to ruin of those who listen” he might be referring to Christians whose effectiveness was lost in the confusion of unprofitable debate.
2. How would you describe the best approach to confront false teachings? (We must use the Word of God with a gentle spirit and speak in love not harsh, condemning words. Our ultimate goal is to share the truth with them and have them accept Jesus. If we alienate them by our harshness they may never come to know, understand, and accept the truth.)
We must remember, we cannot transform anyone—we can’t even change ourselves—only the Holy Spirit can take truth and transform lives.
3. What did Paul say was the prerequisite to being able to offer correct teaching of God’s Word? (Diligent effort in knowing God’s Word.)
4. What do you see as the difference between a worker approved by God and one who isn’t? (The worker approved by God works in the power of the Holy Spirit rather than his own power.)
You may not formally teach biblical truth, but you have opportunities through both word and action to teach such truth daily. We are all teachers in some capacity, and it is important for us to be prepared.
5. If God were evaluating you on your job performance, would you have reason to be ashamed (v. 15)?
Timothy was to avoid anything that detracted from the centrality of Scripture and teach those faithful men to do the same.
6. What analogy did Paul use to emphasize the danger of “irreverent and empty speech” in the church? (“Their teaching will spread like gangrene.” It is deadly to the church.)
7. What false teaching were Hymenaeus and Philetus spreading among the church members? (The resurrection had already taken place. See 2 Thess. 2:1-3)
By saying that this was “ruining the faith of some” Paul was not saying people were losing their salvation by this doctrinal confusion. Rather, the word picture Paul painted suggests the controversy was upsetting their understanding of the truth.
8. I love the word “nevertheless” in verse 19. What does Paul remind us of in this verse? (“God’s solid foundation stands firm…”)
9. What action must “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord” take? (“Turn away from wickedness.” That command is all encompassing; it means all kinds of wickedness!)
10. How does faithfully studying the Bible help a believer avoid useless and false debates? (We cannot know the difference between empty speech and edifying speech without studying God’s Word.)
Two Vessels! Read 2 Timothy 2:20-21
Paul used the illustration of two kinds of vessels in a house to emphasize the importance of godliness. The bowls were gold and silver and designed for special use while other bowls made of wood and earthenware served the purpose for ordinary occasions. Similarly, some believers honored Jesus worthily by their behavior and belief while others dishonored Him by their lifestyle.
1. What is the relationship between purity and service? (The blood of Christ ultimately purifies the believer. But believers participate in purifying by removing sinful matter from their lives. As such we are useful to the Master. Notice, the vessel is not useful in and of itself, but as it is employed by the Master. In His hands, we find purpose and value!)
2. How does a commitment to studying God’s Word lead to practicing God’s Word? (As we approach Scripture with a pure, teachable spirit, the Word speaks to us and leads us in righteousness through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to live out what we’ve learned!)
Read 2 Timothy 2:22
Just because some of us are not young in age doesn’t mean that we are immune from “youthful passions.”
3. What are some “youthful passions” we should flee? (Worldly attitudes, lust, cravings, things that take our focus off the mission of sharing the gospel.)
4. What was Timothy to pursue, run after, and work toward? (Righteousness, faith, love, peace, and purity.)
5. We are challenged to pursue righteousness. How would you describe “righteousness” to someone who wanted to pursue it? (Christlikeness. Obedience to God out of a heart of love for God. Moral uprightness in all areas of life.)
We don’t just flee from evil, we must run toward something. Timothy was to keep his focus on pursuing those things that would lead people, who are ensnared by the world and caught in Satan’s trap, to repentance and faith.
Our close companions should be those who pursue these things Paul listed here. Fellowship with like-minded believers would help Timothy, and us, run away from inappropriate passions and run toward holy virtues. It will also inspire us to be an honorable vessel, suitable for the Lord’s purpose.
Two Approaches! Read 2 Timothy 2:23-26
1. What traits should characterize a servant of the Lord? (Not quarrelsome, gentle, able to teach, and patient.)
These traits are very important when confronting false teachings or trying to share the gospel with a lost person.
2. How does a poor attitude discredit a person’s message? (Avoiding debate for debate’s sake eliminates the opportunity for division and conflict without good reason. While there are certainly times when the integrity of the gospel calls for a spirited defense, many arguments are moiré speculative and not earnest searches for truth.)
3. What is needed for others to respect our witness when we are drawn into a discussion? (Taking a gentle, patient approach when sharing actually assists the learner to become more teachable.)
4. Read Proverbs 15:1-2. What do we learn from this ancient proverb? (When in a disagreement speak with gentleness and avoid harshness. Make knowledge look attractive!)
Knowing the truth from studying the Bible helps protect us from the enemy and helps us share God’s Word with patience and urgency. I read somewhere this week the following: “A man’s soul must be very valuable because God and Satan are both trying to win them.”
Summarize and Challenge!
· Believers must continue to study God’s Word to avoid being led astray.
· Believers must intentionally flee sin and pursue righteousness to be useful in God’s work.
· Believers are to present God’s Word to others with love, respect and kindness.
Who do you regularly encounter who is antagonistic toward the gospel?
What principles discovered in this study can you follow when approaching this person in the future?
Sometimes we are called to do a health assessment. We also need to do regular spiritual health assessments. Based on today’s key points: passing on the faith, staying focused on the mission, teaching the truth, and living with gentleness and patience, how is your spiritual health?
If being strong in the Lord is your goal, what action is required?