Summary: As Paul continued to share wisdom and guidance with Timothy, he knew eventually Timothy would face false doctrine and false accusation. In order to overcome, he needed to be settled in the Word.
Settled in the Word
2 Timothy 2: 14-18
Paul continued to offer sound wisdom and guidance to his young protégé, Timothy. Having dealt with many who opposed him, Paul was well acquainted with the struggles of ministry among those determined to hinder his efforts. While Paul faced physical abuse and oppression frequently, there was also another attack that caused much grief and pain – damaging and hurtful words. He knew Timothy would not be immune from such attacks as he endeavored to serve the Lord and pastor the church.
As I studied this passage, I was reminded of the words of the apostle James. James 3:6-10 – And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. We have all felt the hurt of ill-timed or ill-intended words. At times these come from those within, and at times we hear accusations from those without. Words have meaning, and they bear consequence when spoken. We must be prepared to deal with hurtful words, as well as false doctrine. Both have caused great damage within the body of Christ.
While we can’t prevent hurtful or misleading words, we can prepare to deal with them when they come. The greatest defense against such attack is a thorough understanding of the Word. In order to overcome, we must be rooted and grounded in the Word. As we examine the admonitions of Paul for Timothy, I want to consider: Settled in the Word.
I. The Danger of pointless Strife (14) – Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Beginning this admonition, Paul warned Timothy of the dangers of pointless strife often prevalent among the church. Consider:
A. The Challenge (14a) – Of these things put them in remembrance…Paul encouraged Timothy to offer positive reinforcement of the principles of the faith. He was to remind them to abide faithful in Christ, knowing He would remain faithful to them. If Timothy was successful in discipling them in the faith, growing and maturing in the Lord, many of the issues they faced would disappear. (Many of the issues we deal with today result from spiritual immaturity among the church. While this would not solve every problem, it would result in profitable growth for the entire body.)
B. The Charge (14a) – Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit. Following a reminder to abide faithful, Timothy was urged to charge the church regarding strife resulting from words of no profit. Apparently, there was much debate and senseless arguing among some within the church. These were arguing over issues of little to no importance, that were petty or preferential, but not significant doctrinally. Timothy would have to deal with these issues, but he was not expected to engage in such senseless debate. The matters of the Gospel and spiritual growth among the church could not be neglected or abandoned for unprofitable debate. This likely was being promoted and encouraged by those who sought to infiltrate the church with false doctrine, but it is apparent that some genuine believers were engaged in this activity as well.
Unfortunately, this remains in the church today. There are many doctrines being promoted, and many of them do not line up with the teaching of Scripture. We must know what we believe and why we believe it, but arguing with those with ulterior motives is never profitable. If they have an agenda in mind, you will never convince them to abandon their pursuit in exchange for truth. Heated debates will never win anyone to Christ, and it runs the risk of tarnishing our reputation. Rather than senseless debate, we must be grounded in the Word, able to spot false doctrine and heresy when it is presented. These attacks will only increase as we draw closer to the Lord’s return. (We must also guard against debates with no spiritual or eternal significance. Many issues have split churches that bear no eternal significance.)
C. The Catastrophe (14b) – charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Paul knew the danger of such unprofitable debate – it would negatively affect the health of the church. The word subverting comes from the Greek word katastrophe, and as one might expect, it is the word from which our English word catastrophe is derived. Such unprofitable debate would have catastrophic effects on the church, endangering their spiritual well-being.