God’s Sure Foundation
Please read Numbers 16 and 17 and 2 Timothy 2, 3, and 4:1-4
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself was the first to warn us of the coming of false teachers. Since then the Holy Spirit has continued to remind us of the dangers of the flood of evil doctrine which now overspreads the world. The increase of false teaching in the world to-day constitutes ample proof of the truth of the many prophecies concerning these things in the word of God.
God has given us many detailed warnings of false teachers and their doctrines. These will increase unto more ungodliness, for evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. These men are under the direction of “seducing spirits”, and their teachings are “doctrines of demons.” Satanically inspired, their ultimate object is to dethrone God in the hearts of His own and to dishonour His Son. This has always been the purpose of Satan from the garden of Eden. He seeks to do this by the propagation of “the lie”. This doctrine has many variations, but it always includes “Ye shall not surely die!” in one form or another and the denial of the Deity of Christ. The devil’s lie was the original “party line.” It has never changed; it is still successful in luring men and women to eternal doom and in overthrowing the faith of unwary saints who linger in the paths of sin.
The word of God shows us who and what are against us. Satan has no other resources than those which are clearly revealed in the word of God.
If His word abides in us we cannot be taken by surprise, “… for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). We are not called upon to know all the many forms of error which the devil uses to deceive: there is enough teaching within the pages of the Written Word concerning the devices of Satan to enable us to avoid them intelligently. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, ‘If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’.” (John 8:31-32).
Exploiting His Triumph
In spite of the fact that we may not always be able to answer false teachers or to expose the fallacy of their arguments, we have no reason to fear Satan and his wiles. We know that “. . greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4), and that by His death and resurrection our Lord “… . spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). We may know experimentally “what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet . .” (Ephesians 1:19-22). Just as it is wonderfully possible to have the peace of God ruling our hearts and minds in the midst of a world of sin and strife and sorrow by the exercise of a God-given faith in Him, so is it possible to be kept from evil doctrine and practice by obedience to His Word for along with the prophecies and warnings of danger the Holy Spirit has shown us the means whereby we may walk in safety.
The Foundation Of Our Faith
Hymenaeus and Philetus were among the first of those apostates to whom Paul referred when he said to the elders of Ephesus (Acts 20:30), “. . also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” They had evidently taught their error to others for the faith of some had been overthrown. When warning Timothy of these men the Apostle by the Spirit recalled two of the words which God gave to Moses upon the occasion of Korah’s rebellion. He presents these scriptures as the sure foundation for our faith: “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 depart from iniquity.’“ (2 Timothy 2:10).
Let us consider this two-fold “seal”. “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 8:3), “But if any man love God, the same is known of Him.” The first line of defence against doctrines of demons is for our affections to be wholly taken up with our blessed Lord. “… He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him.” (Psalm 45:11). He is to be the Lord of our lives indeed: to such an extent that every thought is to be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). “Thought control” is to be a practical reality to those who would be disciples indeed. Only by this means can our minds enjoy perfect liberty. If He is Lord of our lives then He will be Lord of our ears: and He has directed that our ears are not to be used to listen to the devil’s lie in any of its forms. The Holy Spirit has given us repeated warnings to “shun”, “avoid”, “turn away”, from evil doctrine and those who teach it. If the individual members of the congregation of Israel had not lent their ears to Korah’s heresy it would not have become so disastrous. Knowing the truth, it is not necessary for us to know every false way.
How good it is to know that we are His! Redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, we rejoice in the knowledge that we are the bondslaves of Him Who bought us. We look forward to the day when the Father will fulfil the prayer of our Lord, “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). The day will come when He will show to all creation who are His and who is holy. This will indeed be “… salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). To be known and owned of Him, sharing all the Father’s love, will be heaven beyond imagination.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29).
“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between His shoulders” (Deuteronomy 33:12).
The Lord knoweth them that are His.
The Proof Of Faith
“Let every one that nameth the Name of Christ depart from iniquity.” This portion of the “seal” has a very practical side too.
This is at once a solemn warning and a reminder of our responsibility. It is, of course, obvious that only those who are Christ’s can depart from iniquity: for all others are still in the bond of iniquity, regardless of how they may appear unto men. Because our Lord has conferred the honour of His Name upon us we are not to presume that we are immune from the danger of bringing dishonour upon that holy Name. No doubt Hymenaeus and Philetus bore the Name of Christ at one time; perhaps at the very time that Paul wrote of them, but they erred concerning the truth. How this should remind us of the scripture, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Salvation is meaningless if it does not deliver us from sin in our lives. Job understood this when he said “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). A holy life will keep us from falling a prey to the snare of the devil and the only way to accomplish this is to abide in Christ (John 15:3-4). We are easily led into doctrinal error if we are living in sin, for after all, the devil’s purpose in propagating the lie is to entice us back into the bondage of sin. Failing to depart from iniquity, we do the devil’s work for him.
How little we realize what an honour it is to be one of those who name the Name of Christ! And how careful we should be “… that the Name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed” (1 Timothy 6:1), for the proof before the world of the reality of salvation through the blood of Christ is a holy life on the part of those who profess to believe in His Name. Such a life, lived by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, is unassailable by demons or men for it upholds the honour of His Name. The life which is characterized by this two-fold seal is one which God will use for His glory. It will be “… a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Just how He will use us, He knows; but the preparation for that work is largely in our own hands. We may not be called upon to preach the word as was Timothy, but whether we preach or not the responsibility of every one of us is to “… adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:10), that all men may see that the word that is preached actually has the power to deliver men from sin.
God’s Triumphant Declaration
God’s answer to the powers of darkness and all those associated with them in the propagation of evil doctrine is the resurrection of Christ Jesus. There can be no answer to that argument. Hence the Holy Spirit’s charge to Timothy by Paul, and to gospel preachers in every age is “Remember Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel…” (2 Timothy 2:8): and, most solemn of all, “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 doctrine. For the time will come (it has already 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” (2 Timothy 4:1-4).
In view of this, it behooves us to be in deadly earnest in the discharge of the responsibility which God has laid upon us. He has entrusted us with the proclamation of the unsearchable riches of Christ to a poor sinful world whose chief need is that very message. This is the only message really worth preaching, for it is the power of God to every one that believeth. Let us then see to it that, as stewards, we shall be found faithful to our holy trust.