Pursuing God When Tempted
2 Timothy 2:19-22
Flee your wrong desires and pursue the righteousness of Christ.
N.T. Wright illustration, “Think of a dangerous, angry animal, and when faced with that animal, what would you do? Then think how you would feel when you saw a loved one you had not seen in years. How would you behave?” Run to the heart of God.
Paul was concerned for Timothy in a wicked culture and gives him some incredible advice. How to pursue God when facing temptation.
1. Remember your identity in Christ (2 Timothy 2:19).
He knows those who are his… two facts, your life with God and your life in the world.
With God, this demonstrates he is the one who authors our salvation. Some were defecting from the gospel, many were tripped up and led away from Jesus. Like Korah’s rebellion. 1 Corinthians 12:3, reminds us that we can call out to the Lord by the Holy Spirit.
In the world, 2 Corinthians 5:15-17, a new creation, stand firm, we cannot be shaken. Ken told a story about Fritz, a violinist, in a shop, accused of stealing the violin he was holding. He was arrested, and to prove his identity he said, “Just let me play it for you to prove who I am.”
2. Do not settle for less than God’s best (2 Timothy 2:20).
The dilemma, the first word appears to counter the verse before this one. Paul goes from the big picture, the world, to something more local, the large house.
The distinction, vessels are for different purposes. This is a reference from 2 Timothy 2:17-19, not all professed believers really know Christ. There are those who have lasting value and those who do not. If you are an earthen vessel, then repent! There are people in the church who do not know Christ! Ken told a story about going through a home, there were labels telling people, “do not touch.” You can tell that which items were valuable.
3. Set yourself apart unto God (2 Timothy 2:21).
What things are we to set apart? Those items that personify earthenware. Accountability is built upon responsibility. We are told to cleanse yourself. The idea is separation of evil, not that we would hold onto our own self-righteousness.
Results are threefold…
- Becomes a vessel of honor showing the value of the church or house.
- Being sanctified, demonstrating our sanctification. The value of the master’s work.
- Being prepared for every good work, the proclamation of gospel.
4. Remain watchful and resistant against sin (2 Timothy 2:22)
Flee youthful lusts, this applies to all ages, the meaning here is a flaming lust, an untamable flame, running is not always an indication of cowardice,
5. Pursue righteousness (2 Timothy 2:22).
Pursue righteousness and faith, God’s nature is love, shalom peace, with God and with others, where God’s presence is known well.
We grieve over flagrant sins, but often not over our private ones. What prevents us from loving others. To unlove is to hate.
Why is all this so important? A George Barna survey about a dangerous and new moral code in America. You find yourself by looking within yourself, we should not criticize the lifestyles of others, pursuing that which you desire the most is the highest goal people can achieve, believe whatever you want as long as it does not affect society, behavior between consenting adults is acceptable.
Christians cannot give in to the influence of the world.
Life Group Questions:
An Unashamed Workman
14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
- About what sorts of things do we get into senseless arguments with other Christians? (see 2 Timothy 2:14)
- What does it mean to be approved by God? (see 2 Timothy 2:15)
- How can we please God with our work or deeds? How is it possible to do God’s work with the wrong motivation?
- What circumstances make you feel ashamed or embarrassed?
- When are you tempted to engage in godless chatter or stupid arguments?
- What false doctrines have destroyed the faith of someone you know? (see 2 Timothy 2:17-18)
- What evil desires of youth continually tempt us?
- In what way have people in our society (or in the church) been taken captive by the devil?
- when do you feel the world tug on you? What steps do you take to keep your focus on God?
- What are ways to limit the effect of worldly things in your life.
- Where are examples in your life where you felt the need to run away from something? (Because of character, not cowardice).
- When you hear the statistic that up to 80% of people who attend church may have never made a true decision for salvation, what is your emotional response to this information?
- Do you feel that work in the kingdom is shared evenly throughout the congregation, or is there a smaller percentage of people who do most of the ministry in the church? Why is this true?
- How can our Christian community help keep worldly things at bay? What is the advantage of safety in numbers? How does this apply to the church?
- Where do you feel God uses you for his glory? How are you gifted for the work of ministry? In what areas are your stronger? In what areas are you not as effective?
- What areas of your life do you rely upon God the most?
- How has mass media changed throughout the years? Is media as a whole going in the wrong direction? How are we influenced by mass media (magazines, movies, television)? What positive Christian messages have you seen in the media?
- Do you think Christians today have a healthy fear of sin? How do you think popular culture has changed in terms of viewing sin and immorality?
- What are ways we can strengthen our children against worldly influences?
- What does it mean to you to pursue righteousness? Is there a time in your life when you felt you were pursuing God more than you are right now?
- How is tolerance a dangerous word sometimes? How has the use of this word changed over the years?
- In our society today, is it easier or harder to be seen as set apart (for God’s purposes)?
- Why are we content to remain as an earthen vessel? What do you think about Ken’s point that the only solution is to repent and pursue righteousness?
- What can you do to flee temptation that is all around us?
- In what ways do we settle for less than God’s best?