Summary: There is success, and then there is real success. Paul is an example of real success, and wants Timothy to follow that example. We can too.
Passage: 2 Timothy 3:10-17
Intro: We live in an ever-darkening world.
1. in spite of happy talk to the contrary, while things are better technologically and sometimes economically, morally and spiritually there is nowhere the unregenerate world can go but down.
2. one of the things that separate the believer from the non-believer is their differing views of success.
3, and if there was anyone who would be labeled a failure by the world, it would be the apostle Paul, just like his Lord Jesus.
4. run out of several cities, cause of riots, and now in prison waiting to be executed.
5. compared to Jesus’ life, very similar
6. compared to the definition of “success” in the world, a terrible failure
7. so here is Timothy, on the brink of deserting this apparent failure like everyone else had.
8. we may not be tempted to leave a person, but to leave the challenging call of God in our lives to pursue success as the world defines it.
9. don’t get sucked in! Here are three steps that we can take to remain in the footprints of Jesus; the ultimate success story!
I. Accept the Biblical Definition of Success
1. get a running start, back up to previous passage.
2. a dissertation on the last days, how full of lies and the depravity that comes with it.
3. v10..”But you”, very emphatic, the first of two in passage.
4. “you have followed as a disciple, and have seen my character.”
Il) we see books, articles by successful people, telling us their secrets to success. This is Paul’s.
5. but you’ll notice his keys to success are a little different!
6. begins by listing character traits that may be admired but typically not sought. (fruit of the Spirit)
7. then he compresses several years of ministry into a short phrase…”what kinds of things happened.”
8. we might expect Paul to encourage Timothy to avoid this path, but Paul considers it normal Christianity!! V12
9. so how does Paul define success, because he clearly believes he is one.
PP “Biblical success is living a life filled with such powerful Christ-like character and actions that believers will want to follow you, some trapped in the lie will resist you with all their strength, while others will be amazed by your life and seek Christ.”
10. this is the life Paul lived, and which he calls Timothy to live; especially in the face of the end times he describes in vv1-9.
11. in our society, desperate for success, we desperately need to hear Paul’s voice from prison.
12. because there is another voice, a very loud voice, that Paul mentions, which leads to the next step we need to take.
II. Recognize and Reject the Lie
1. v13 returns to a description Paul began earlier in the chapter.
2. a terrible description of people trapped in lies and full of godless character.
3. in that description, Paul is using the Biblical definition of success to evaluate them. This is critical!
4. they may have been rich, they may have been powerful, they may have been very
successful in the world’s eyes.
5. but in God’s economy of character transformed by faith in Jesus Christ, they were empty.
6. the process that leads to this emptiness is revealed in v13
7. “imposters” comes from a word that means “to howl,” and refers to swindlers, sorcerers.
Il) this is not the guy you would want to buy a used car from.
8. but notice the process: they “will go from bad to worse” This process will always lead in a downward direction of increasing depravity.
Il) when we were kids, the porn was behind the counter at the drug store, and mild compared to the easily accessible via Internet absolutely disgusting filth today.
9. it goes from bad to worse because of where it begins.
10. “deceiving and being deceived.” Here’s the process:
11. in every time and place, there are liars left over from the last generation.
12. they are deceived, and now are deceiving others.
13. and because it begins with lies, it can only produce after it’s kind and, continues to plumb the depths of the lie in a desperate attempt to discover satisfaction where none can be found.
PP) it’s like looking for living fish in the middle of the Sahara!
14. one great way to recognize the lie is to examine the character of the people who hold it. What are their lives like?
15. the lie will be appealing, dressed up in power suits and degrees with money dripping from every appendage.
16. it may have the backing of the AMA, FDA,NAE, PTA, and the Supreme Court, but their “private lives” will be a wreck.
17. don’t get sucked in to the common “just a little lie won’t hurt” mentality