Summary: From the very beginning, Satan has been a master at distracting us from pursuing the One whose image we bear.

Strategy of Temptation: Undermine God’s Authority (2 Timothy 3:1–17; 4:1–4)

Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” - Genesis 3:1

The deaf community is one of the largest unreached groups. Fewer than 1 percent of deaf people call themselves Christians. Because the deaf cannot be reached by traditional means, the church has to think creatively and strategically to reach the millions of deaf people around the world.

1. All of us are born spiritually deaf

a. The Bible is clear that all of us, apart from the intervening work of the Holy Spirit, are functionally deaf in a spiritual sense

b. What was true in Isaiah’s day and in Jesus’ time continues to be true today: “This people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears” (Matt. 13:15; cf. Isa. 6:9–10).

1) “For this people's heart has grown dull,?    and with their ears they can barely hear,?    and their eyes they have closed,?lest they should see with their eyes?    and hear with their ears?and understand with their heart?    and turn, and I would heal them.’” - Matt. 13:15

2) “And he said, “Go, and say to this people:?“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;?keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’?Make the heart of this people dull,?    and their ears heavy,?    and blind their eyes;?lest they see with their eyes,?    and hear with their ears,?and understand with their hearts,?    and turn and be healed.” (Isa. 6:9,10)?

2. All of us exercise selective spiritual hearing

a. Much like Eve did in the Garden

1) When Satan approached Eve in the Garden, he did so with great cunning

2) Without directly contradicting God’s Word, he cast just enough suspicion on God’s command to cause Eve to reconsider her belief

3) The strategy worked: Eve told the serpent that they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, nor were they to touch it

4) Touching the tree was never a divine prohibition

b. Much like Paul describes in his letter to Timothy?

3. Satan always works to undermine God’s authority.

a. Often, he uses our own sinful desires as the means by which we start to bend God’s Word to accommodate our preferences

b. We let the Bible say what we want it to say, and in this way we become guilty of the “itching ears” syndrome

c. Though we may maintain external forms of spiritual commitment, we are not truly following Christ?

4. Authentic Christian commitment turns on the willingness to hear God’s Word—and obey it fully, even when we meet its demands with reluctance.?

5. Conclusion: Apply the Word - How can we be confident that our interpretations of Scripture stay true to God’s intended meaning?

a. One way is to examine whether the Bible ever makes us uncomfortable

b. Does what God says threaten what we want, or does He ask us to relinquish something impossible?

c. If this is true, the Holy Spirit might be exercising spiritual conviction in our lives

Exegesis of 2 Timothy 3:1-4:4

1. Who’s the author? Paul

2. Who’s the recipient? Timothy

3. Where? Paul in prison again (1:15, 2:9), with no hope of release this time (4:6-8). In his prior imprisonment, he was under house arrest; now he’s actually in jail and abandoned by everyone for fear of persecution (1:15, 4:9-12)

4. What’s the purpose? Paul is passing “the mantle” of ministry to his son-in-the-faith, Timothy, telling him what to watch out for and what his calling really entails

Coming into this, Paul has just finished encouraging Timothy to be a worker “approved by God,” not to worry about his youth, but that God has appointed him to leadership and authority. He is to be sober and mature-minded, not distracted by “youthful passions” and “foolish, ignorant controversies.”

3:1 - “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.”

- “The last days” - this “age,” the time between Jesus’ first and second comings

- “times of difficulty” - “times” here refers to epochs, not specific clock/date references; “difficulty” is the same word used in Matt. 8:28 to refer to the savage nature of two demon-possessed men

3:2-4 - “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,”

- This list of attributes characterizes the leaders of the dangerous seasons; description of unbelievers similar to the Lord’s in Mark 7:21-22

3:5 - “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

- “Appearance” refers to outward shape or appearance

- Like the unbelieving scribes and Pharisees, false teachers and their followers are concerned with mere external appearances (cf. Matt. 23:25, Titus 1:16)

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