“To The Ruin of the Hearers.” – 2 Timothy 2:14c

It is a tremendous privilege to share the Gospel of Christ; to share and explain Bible verses to those who may not have studied the Word of God diligently.  It is also an extreme responsibility for the Christian teacher to “get it right.”  How does a Christian achieve this?  I think that 2 Timothy 2 gives us much insight, and I will also share some applicable commentary from David Guzik at Blue Letter Bible.

2Ti 2:10
Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

2Ti 2:11
This is a faithful saying:

For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.

2Ti 2:12
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.

2Ti 2:13
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.

2Ti 2:14
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.

David Guzik:

c. To the ruin of the hearers: This shows that it is a serious matter and there is much to lose. If we take the focus off the message of God, and put the focus on human opinions and endless debates, it will result in the ruin of the hearers.

i. The Bible says, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Yet if people do not hear the word of God, then ruin comes by hearing the opinions and speculations and entertainment of man.

Guzik stresses that we NOT focus on human opinions and endless debates.  Why?  Because it will result in the ruin of the hearers!  Why?  Because if all that people are subjected to is “the opinions and speculations and entertainment of man,” then they won’t hear the Word of God.

The crux of the matter is this:  we must be diligent, approved unto God so we are not ashamed; and in order to do this we must be “rightly dividing the word of truth.”

2Ti 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

In the very next verse, we are told to:

2Ti 2:16
But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

This, my dear readers, is why there are those who claim to be Christian, but they are far removed from Christ because they reject the teachings of the Bible and lead others to “more ungodliness” because they do not “shun profane and idle babblings.”

David Guzik:

2. (2Ti 2:15) Keep focused; pay attention to your own life and ministry.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

a. Be diligent: Paul often had to exhort Timothy to courage and action. Earlier in the chapter (2 Timothy 2:3-5), Paul encouraged him to hard work and endurance for the service of the Lord.

b. To present yourself approved to God: Timothy’s goal was not to present himself approved to people, but to God. He wasn’t to regard the job of being a pastor as a popularity contest but instead as a call to faithfulness to God.

c. To present yourself approved to God: Timothy wasn’t to worry so much about presenting other people approved to God (though there was a place for this in his pastoral ministry). His first concern had to be to present himself approved to God.

d. A worker who does not need to be ashamed: It is embarrassing to do a job poorly and then to have your work examined. The Bible warns us that the work of each Christian will be examined at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Therefore we have another motivation to work diligently for the Lord, so we will not be ashamed when our work is examined.

i. “It is better explained as a workman who has no cause for shame when his work is being inspected.” (White)

e. Rightly dividing the word of truth: This was to be a focus of Timothy’s hard work. He was to work hard so he could rightly divide the word of God.

i. Timothy, as a faithful pastor, was to be rightly dividing God’s Word. That is, he had to know what it said and didn’t say, and how it was to be understood and how it was not to be understood. It wasn’t enough for Timothy to know some Bible stories and verses and sprinkle them through his sermons as illustrations. His teaching was to be a “right dividing” of the Word of God, correctly teaching his congregation.

ii. “Swords are meant to cut and hack, and wound, and kill with, and the word of truth is for pricking men in the heart and killing their sins. The word of God is not committed to God’s ministers to amuse men with its glitter, nor to charm them with the jewels in its hilt, but to conquer their souls for Jesus.” (Spurgeon)

iii. Rightly dividing has several ideas associated with the ancient term.

· Rightly handle the Word of God, as one would rightly handle a sword.
· Plow straight with the Word of God, properly presenting the essential doctrines.
· Properly dissect and arrange the Word of God, as a priest would dissect and arrange and animal for sacrifice.
· Allot to each their portion, as someone distributing food at a table.

f. Rightly dividing: This also means there is such a thing as wrongly dividing; not everyone cuts it straight. We must understand that Biblical truth is not just an issue left up to everyone’s interpretation. There is a right way and a wrong way to understand the Bible, and a pastor especially must work hard to master the right interpretation.

i. For example, many people love to say when the Bible is quoted, “Well, that’s just your interpretation.” Their idea is, “You interpret the Bible your way, I interpret it my way, and another person interprets it their way. We can never really know what it means, so don’t judge me with your Bible verse.”

ii. When someone tells me, “That’s just your interpretation,” I think in response: “It’s true that it is my interpretation, but it isn’t just my interpretation, it is the correct interpretation, and we need to pay attention to what the Bible says correctly interpreted.”

iii. This is an important point: The Bible does not mean just what anyone wants it to mean. There may be many people trying to twist the Scriptures to their own ends, but they are wrongly dividing the word of truth. We can’t just pick the interpretation that seems most comfortable to us, and claim it as true – it must be rightly dividing the word of truth, and it must be consistent with what the Bible says in the specific passage and with the entire message of the Scriptures.

iv. For example, a correct interpretation of Matthew 7:1 (Judge not, that you be not judged) is not the idea of “You have no right to judge my behavior or any one else’s behavior.” If this were the case, then Jesus repeatedly broke His own commandment, because He often told people their behavior was wrong in the sight of God. The correct understanding of Matthew 7:1 is easily seen by reading Matthew 7:2: For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Jesus was saying “Don’t judge anyone by a standard you are not willing to be judged by. God will hold you to the same standard you hold others to.” This clearly does not forbid judging someone else’s life, but it does prohibit doing it unfairly or hypocritically, or living with a judgmental attitude.

v. The point is clear: There is a right way and a wrong way to divide the Matthew 7:1, which is one verse in the word of truth. Every Christian, but pastors especially, must work hard to be rightly dividing the word of truth. Though perfection in understanding God’s word is impossible, and should never be assumed, we should still work hard at it.

3. (2Ti 2:16-18) The price of not keeping focus: The faith of some is overthrown.

But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.

a. But shun profane and vain babblings: This refers to anything that takes the focus off of the gospel and God’s Word. These babblings are profane because they are unholy in contrast to the holiness of God’s Word. They are vain, because even though people like to hear them, they don’t have lasting value.

i. Man’s opinions, man’s teachings, man’s opinion polls, man’s stories, man’s programs, are all profane and vain babblings compared to the simple Word of God. When these things become the focus of the message from the pulpit, it will increase to more ungodliness.

b. Their message will spread like cancer: The message of profane and vain babblings may spread quickly and be popular. They are like a cancer that spreads fast and captures an audience.

i. Who in 2 Timothy 2:18 “Implies that Hymenaeus and Philetus were only the more conspicuous members of a class of false teachers.” (White)

c. Hymenaeus and Philetus: Hymenaeus is mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20 as a man whom Paul delivered to Satan that [he] may learn not to blaspheme. This is the only place where we hear of Philetus, and here Paul tells us of their error.

i. They were of this sort – that is, they had a message full of profane and vain babblings, and apparently the message was somewhat popular, because it spread quickly.

ii. They had strayed concerning the truth: Apparently, they started out correctly, and then strayed from that correct position.

iii. They were saying that the resurrection is already past: It seems they were teaching that we were already in God’s millennial kingdom, or that there was no resurrection to come – it had already occurred.

iv. They did overthrow the faith of some: Though the only false doctrine Paul mentioned regarding these two is that they taught that the resurrection is already past, the effect was to overthrow the faith of some. Undoubtedly, this was not their only error; and a fundamental error in such an area often leads to many more strange beliefs, until one has abandoned Jesus and His truth all together.

v. Many today accept and honor teachers who are way off in one area or another; and they justify it by saying, “I eat the meat and spit out the bones.” This kind of thinking will certainly overthrow the faith of some, because some will certainly choke to spiritual death on the bones you say you spit out.

vi. Notice Paul said, they overthrow the faith of some. We shouldn’t require that everyone be led astray by a teacher before we avoid them; even if some are having their faith overthrown, it is bad enough.

So, we can see clearly in this portion of Scripture how VERY IMPORTANT it is to “rightly divide God’s Word!”  Why?  Because:

[a]nd a fundamental error in such an area often leads to many more strange beliefs, until one has abandoned Jesus and His truth all together.

Hat tip:  David Guzik commentary at Blue Letter Bible.

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5 Responses to ““To The Ruin of the Hearers.” – 2 Timothy 2:14c”

  1. christinewjc Says:

    I highly recommend the writings of Tim Challies. He has several posts on his website that continue to teach how to recognize false doctrine from true doctrine.

    Excerpts:

    False doctrine prevents godliness, while sound doctrine promotes godliness. False doctrine undermines godliness by promoting what is novel or speculative in place of what is true. As Paul writes to Timothy, he says, “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different [strange] doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Timothy 1:3-4). Rather than continuing to act in love born out of a sincere, informed faith (5), those “certain persons” had wandered into ungodly vanity (6). Their false doctrine had led them to ungodliness.

    False doctrine promotes sin, while sound doctrine prevents sin. False doctrine allows sin to take root in our hearts and minds and work its way out in our lives. Sound doctrine confronts our sinfulness and motivates us to repent. As Paul says to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The doctrine contained in Scripture teaches and reproves, it corrects and trains, purging sin and motivating righteousness.

    False doctrine elevates ungodly leadership, while sound doctrine qualifies godly leadership. Positions of leadership within the church are reserved for those who know and teach sound doctrine. When Paul writes Titus, he instructs him to appoint elders in the churches of Crete. He reminds Titus of a key qualification he must look for before appointing such men: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). Those who cannot give sound doctrine cannot lead the church.

    False doctrine permits false teachers, while sound doctrine protects against false teachers. Propagated false doctrine weakens a church’s defense, providing an easy opening for more false teachers to spread through the congregation. The false teaching in Crete had weakened the church for the “empty talkers and deceivers” of the circumcision party (Titus 1:10). Such false teachers “profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work” (16). But sound teaching equips leaders and laypersons alike to refute false teachers (9).

    False doctrine debilitates the church for times of difficulty, while sound doctrine equips the church for times of difficulty. By the time Paul sends his second letter to Timothy, he is anticipating a time when churches will no longer tolerate truth. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). How should Timothy prepare his church for such a time? By preaching the Bible and teach ing the doctrine it contains. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). Nothing better equips a church for times of trial than the Bible’s deep doctrines.

    False doctrine confuses truth and error, prevents godliness, promotes sin, elevates ungodly leadership, permits false teachers, removes God’s blessing, debilitates the church for times of difficulty, and weakens her for the future. Sound doctrine distinguishes truth from error, promotes godliness, prevents sin, qualifies godly leadership, protects against false teachers, ensures God’s blessing, equips the church for times of difficulty, and strengthens her for the future.

    True doctrine (content) originates with God (origin), comes from the Bible (authority), and agrees with the whole of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is sound (quality), it is healthy (benefit), and profitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for holding it (responsibility).

    False doctrine (content) originates with man (origin), does not come from the Bible (authority), and contradicts portions of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is unsound (quality), it is unhealthy (benefit) and unprofitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for rejecting it (responsibility).*

    My Christian friends, here’s your responsibility: Accept and hold fast to what is true. Deny and reject what is false.

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  2. christinewjc Says:

    As an example of promoting false doctrine, I will share a recent revelation that I had regarding a popular preacher who used “church discipline” in a way that I (and many others) think was unbiblical. There are many comments and discussions (containing some arguments, as well) after the first link. The second link shares what a terrible ordeal that this woman (whose husband was found viewing child pornography online and is suspected of pedophilia) went through, and how Matt Chandler supposedly “counseled” her into not following through with a divorce.

    Dear God What is Matt Chandler Thinking?

    [Note: I cannot completely vouch for everything that the author at the above link shares, but this article is the one that alerted me to how Matt Chandler of The Village Church handled this situation between a wife and her pedophile husband.]

    Here is a link to a website that shares much of what transpired in this terrible situation, as well as a statement by Karen Hinkley (formerly Karen Root) about her pedophile former husband.

    Watch Keep: She Speaks: The Village Church protects a confessed pedophile and “disciplines” his wife, a brave young woman and missionary.

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  3. christinewjc Says:

    Read about an extreme example of false doctrine, which any true Christian would most likely immediately recognize. However, those who do not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, aren’t born again, and have probably never read a Bible might succumb to such deceivers and liars who are obviously following evil spirits.

    Church Watch Central: Aligning with a false Christ – condoned by Bethel church.

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  4. Aligning with a false Christ – condoned by Bethel church. | Talk Wisdom Says:

    […] Talk Wisdom's goal is to defend the tenets and values of Biblical Christian faith. We defend our Constitutional Republic and Charters of Freedom, especially when speaking out against destructive social and political issues. As followers of our Savior and Lord, we should boldly stand up for Jesus Christ in our present circumstances. He is our Savior, Lord, and King, and His love needs to be shed abroad in our hearts and in our world – now. « “To The Ruin of the Hearers.” – 2 Timothy 2:14c […]

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