If you’re one of the people I pay to be my friends and regular readers, then you’ve probably noticed that I’ve stopped blogging my daily devotions. This is because I began to realize that they weren’t very well polished—I hadn’t taken the time to consider what I was writing. So instead, my plan is to journal my devotions and then post a summary of what I’m learning about twice a week.
2 Timothy 3:5-9
5 …Avoid such people [false teachers]. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
Certain women in the Ephesian church which Timothy pastored were identified by Paul as “weak.” They were susceptible to false teachers, who presumably took advantage of them for money, influence, and possibly sex. Even today, many false teachers (some televangelists, for example) do the same thing.
So what made these women weak and vulnerable? Paul identifies three factors:
- They were “burdened with sins” (v. 6). They were weighed down by sinful habits; thus, their spiritual discernment was dulled, and they were likely looking for a “silver bullet” that would magically eliminate their sinful behaviors.
- They were “led astray by various passions” (v. 6). Their passions led them to further sin; moreover, these passions may have caused them to lust after the flashy, trendy, fine-sounding words of the false teachers who peddled a new-and-improved gospel.
- They were “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (v. 7). The above passage runs in parallel to 4:3-4, which explains that people love to “accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions”; rather, they “will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” While the women Paul mentions are eating up the things these teachers say, they are arriving not at truth but at falsehood.
So here’s how we can guard against vulnerability to false teaching:
- Flee sin. There is no such thing as a harmless sin; every sin is a gateway to a world of evil. Every foolish choice leads to more foolish choices down the road. Eventually, we place ourselves in a position where we cannot discern right from wrong or truth from error. We may become desperate for something, anything to help us escape the pain that results from opposition to our Lord. It is far better to prevent this from happening in the first place…as the old proverb goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
- Beware of our natural lust for catchy slogans, charming leaders, and clever (but non-biblical) teachings. We so easily mistake professionalism, prosperity, and charisma for truth and spiritual maturity.
- Be careful where we direct our zeal. Just because I’m enthusiastically digging into an appealing teaching doesn’t mean that I am growing in the knowledge of the truth. If we are to know God more, our delight must lie in the truth of His Word (3:15-17).