Summary: A message to encourage people to be usable vessels for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

A Vessel for Noble Purposes

2 Timothy 2:14-26

(February 17, 2002)


We are going to spend the next few weeks before Palm Sunday and Easter looking at the issue of holiness.

We will look at a number of areas of holiness, such as our speech, our actions, and what have you. I think you will find the messages challenging and practical, so plan to be here, okay?

Today, I want to look at the issue of holiness in the life of Timothy, and the lessons we can learn from Paul as he addresses his young protégé.

To do that, I want us to look at a portion of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, as he addresses holiness in terms of clean and unclean vessels.

Please turn with me to 2 Timothy 2:14-26. If you’re using the Bibles in the seats, this can be found on page 842.

Please follow along as I read:

14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

In this passage we see Paul’s desire that young Timothy be a man set apart for God’s work.

My purpose today is to encourage you to that same standard of holiness, and also direction on how to come to that kind of a life of holiness.

I’m anticipating that the Holy Spirit is going to move during this time, and I hope you will be anticipating it as well.

So let’s get started, shall we? First, I want to look at the…

I. Purposes of a vessel.

There are two main types of uses for a vessel. There are more to be sure, but generally I think they can be broken down into two main purposes, and they are described back in verse 20:

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.

I’m going to reverse Paul’s order here and talk first about the type that is made for…

A. Ignoble purposes.

Ignoble basically means the opposite of noble. Ignoble purposes of a vessels could best be illustrated by thinking of things like bedpans, spittoons, or…

(uncover the toilet)

…this here toilet.

What do you think of when you see a toilet? Flowers, monuments, holiness?

No, you think of filth, or anything unworthy to be kept around.

The purpose of a toilet is ignoble. It has no honor. It’s meant to keep us from being contaminated with its contents.

Get the idea? That’s the first purpose or type of vessel. The next type are those vessels that have…

B. Noble purposes.

Noble purposes, as I’ve just alluded to, are those that are good and honorable. These types of vessels are sometimes made just for a specific special purpose to give honor to a person or special occasion.

I have an example of a vessel used for noble purposes. I’m sure you will recognize it.

(bring up the communion bread holder)

When you see this, you don’t think of garbage or filth, do you?

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