Thursday, June 22, 2023

2023.06.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Timothy 2:20-22

Read 2 Timothy 2:20-22

Questions from the Scripture text: To what kind of house does 2 Timothy 2:20 compare the believer or minister? Of what four materials is its furnishings made in the analogy? What are the gold and silver vessels for? What are the wood and clay vessels for? What should a believer/minister do with those aspects of himself that are “for dishonor” (2 Timothy 2:21)? What will he then become? What two characteristics would this give him? Toward Whom? Prepared for what? For which good works? What is one dishonorable thing that the believer should flee (2 Timothy 2:22)? What four things should he pursue instead? Whom do those whom he joins in this call upon? Out of what do such believers call upon the Lord?

How does a believer who loves the Lord advance in usefulness to the Lord? 2 Timothy 2:20–22 looks forward to the second serial reading of in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that by rejecting short-sighted cravings and pursuing instead righteousness, faith, love, and peace, believers crave the Lord from single-minded hearts that are thus prepared for every good work.

There are other dangers to be avoided in Christian life and ministry than the devastating ones in 2 Timothy 2:18 (straying concerning the truth or having one’s faith overthrown). The Lord knows Who are His, and His house is the “great house” of 2 Timothy 2:20. But even within the house, there are those who have very little honor. At high feasts, out come the table settings of gold and silver. But for less honored occasions, the wood and the clay will do.

Don’t we wish to be fit for the table service of the High King (NKJ translates it “Master” in 2 Timothy 2:21)? Then we will follow the instructions in 2 Timothy 2:19 (“Let everyone who names the Name of Christ depart from iniquity”) and 2 Timothy 2:21 (“if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor”).

We wish to do good works for our Redeemer, our King, our Beloved. Do we not?! Alas, O reader, if you do not. But if you do, has it occurred to you that there may be a prerequisite cleansing in order to be “prepared for every good work”?

Here is an even greater motivation unto sanctification than merely having a happier conscience on earth or being fit for heaven: sanctification prepares us to be “holy and useful for the High King.” What an exquisitely happy description of the state of growing in holiness!!

So, we pay careful attention to 2 Timothy 2:22, as it gives one of the Bible’s helpful summaries for what sanctification looks like. There is mortification: “flee youthful lusts.” Don’t be childish, unable to think long-term or exercise self-control for that which is best, unable to make the wise choices between “good” and “best.” No! Flee those youthful lusts. Even pagans know better to some degree and “outgrow” giving in to every desire that presents itself (though they cannot live out of desire for God). Whatever desires in your heart are for sin itself, or even just untamed desires for what is otherwise good, run away! Flee those lusts!

In the 2 Timothy 2:22 summary of sanctification there is also vivification: that life of Christ in us which we are to pursue. Pursue righteousness; learn what God’s law requires, calculate how to do it, put it into action. Pursue faith; this is the first thing we must have in order to give God any true obedience; without faith, it is impossible to please God (cf. Romans 8:7–8, Hebrews 11:6), and whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (cf. Romans 14:23). So we must always be setting Christ and His work before us for our hearts to lay hold of, rest upon, and rejoice over. He Himself has given us mornings and evenings every day, and a full day on the Lord’s Day in which to do so. Let us bring Him, His righteousness, His sacrifice into the constant stream of our thought life at other times as well.

Pursue also love; love is the keeping of the law (cf. Romans 13:10)—love for God with all the heart (cf. Matthew 22:37–38), love for the brother as Christ has loved us (cf. John 13:34), and love for neighbor as ourself (cf. Matthew 22:39). It is especially in the love of the brethren that we will develop our love for God: “pursue peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (cf. 1 John 4:19–5:3). 

Aren’t we eager now, to flee cravings and pursue holiness in Christ? May the Spirit write this passage’s truth on our hearts so that we will satisfy the desire to be useful in the service of the High King.

What desires do you tend to fulfill despite the consequences or better things that should have had a higher priority? How are you going about setting Christ before yourself for the pursuit of faith? How are you pursuing love? What is one change that you can make to have a happier answer to these questions?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You have made us vessels in Your great house. Forgive us for how little we have desired to be holy vessels that have been cleansed to be fit for the use of the High King. Cleanse us from all our unrighteousness, and grant that Your Spirit would grow us by the grace of Christ and by the knowing of Christ, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH466 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” 

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