Summary: Paul’s time on earth was coming to an end. He had fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith. Soon, Paul would be a victim of Nero’s chopping block. Now one of his closest disciples, Demas, has left him.
This morning I want to talk to you about falling into Satan’s Trap.
As we examine our scripture this morning, we find that the Apostle Paul is writing his final letter to Timothy, his son in the Lord. Paul is writing to Timothy from his jail cell in Rome.
I suspect that it is wintertime when he writes because he asks Timothy to bring him his coat, however, the reason could be simply that the dungeon in which he now spends each day is damp and cold. However, that is not the reason for his writing this day. He writes to young Timothy to tell him of a problem with another of Paul’s servants in the Lord, a follower named Demas. Let’s look at verse 10 of our scripture again:
"For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica..."
And what is the problem? Demas is gone! This young protégé that Paul has carried all over the land with him, teaching him about Jesus, teaching him how to be a servant of and evangelist for the cause of Christ, is now gone. He’s "jumped ship," as we say, and gone off to the land of Thessalonica.
Paul is no longer this young, vibrant fireball. It is now some 20, 25, 30 years after his Damascus Road conversion. I am sure that over the last 2 or 3 decades he had aged as all of us do. Time has a way of sapping our strength and causing age lines to appear on our face and hands. For most of us, our hair thins and turns to gray, our vision is not quite what it once was, and our bodies become stiffer as our joints no longer want to bend like they used to in the “good old days.” However, getting older is not always bad. Most of us (except Jesse) have become smarter. Our years of experience in life have given us more knowledge, but most of all more wisdom.
If you ever want to really learn some great life lessons, take the time to sit down with someone in the winter of life. We need the wisdom of the aged. They are treasures that have wonderful stories to tell as well as great advice to give to us all.
The Bible says that young men are for war and old men for counsel. Paul is now a seasoned saint, full of wisdom, and is in his counseling years. What Paul needs now are faithful, younger men around him to carry out the more difficult tasks of the ministry, but as he writes to Timothy he expresses sadness that Demas is gone.
This Apostle laments in a letter to Timothy that he has lost his right-hand man. He’s feeling deserted and forsaken.
Outside his jail cell, Paul has been listening to the daily taunts from the prison guards. They’ve been telling him, "Nero is going to get you. The axe man has been called to come to the prison and sharpen his axe.”
Nero had a price on Paul’s head, but let there be no misunderstanding here, for whenever you serve the Lord, there is going to be an earthly price to pay. This is true because this is not our world – we are not of this world – our world is yet to come. It is only after our earthly death that we will journey to our true and eternal home.
Paul’s time on earth was coming to an end. He had fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith. Soon, Paul would be a victim of Nero’s chopping block.
Paul wrote his epistle between 66 and 67 A.D., and Nero died in 69 A.D., so Paul would meet his fate somewhere between 66 A.D. and 69 A.D. The threatening remarks and the taunts from the guards were getting more and more frequent, but Paul knew what was coming, but he was ready to go. Paul said “to die is gain” and he looked forward to the day when he would be with the Lord forever and ever.
Paul tells Timothy that Demas is now gone, but let’s not be too hard on Demas. The Bible is filled with stories of people who took off when the heat was on. Unfortunately, the church suffers from the same dilemma today.
The disciples fled when Jesus was crucified, and the church folk often flee when their pastor steps on their toes too often. Some things just never change.
I wonder how many Demas’s have fled from our churches over the years. They were there for a little while and now, when the requirements of real service are pressed upon them, they run away. Jesus told us that “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers few. God’s work cries out for committed souls, but so many say “I just don’t have the time,” and they run. And Lord help the preacher that delivers a message on tithing! When the preacher gets into their wallets and purses, the people run away faster than a woman that sees a mouse in her kitchen. Still, God tells us that 10% of everything we earn belongs to Him. It was never ours to begin with! After all, He chose to give us the 90% that we are allowed to keep. Anyway, that’s a sermon for another day.