2 Timothy 2.15
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that the Word of God is the sword of the spirit. It is an essential weapon in our ongoing battle with the enemy. When Timothy was pastor of the church in Ephesus, Paul wrote to him and challenged him to “rightly handle the word of truth.”
This applies to all who follow Christ. We must all be skillful workers who know the scriptures and understand how to apply it to our lives.
Note the emphasis on being a “worker.” In this passage Paul paints a picture of the Christian as a skillful craftsman for whom the Word is a tool that needs to be “rightly handled.” That means we must put in the time and effort to learn what the bible says, and we must put in time and effort to apply the bible to our lives.
As you will recall from two weeks ago, the importance of being skillful in the handling of scripture is reflected in the next chapter of 2 Timothy the apostle writes that “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete (artizo = “artful and skillful”), equipped for every good work.”
We could put it this way: Be artful and skillful in both orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
Orthodoxy = What does scripture say?
Orthopraxy = How does scripture apply to the situations of my life?
If the Word of God needs to be “rightly handled,” that means it can also be “wrongly handled.” The enemy wants the people of God to be ignorant of what the Word says, and he wants them to be lazy and sloppy in how it applies. Sadly, the enemy has often been successful in accomplishing this in our time. Many Christians are ignorant in their bible knowledge and lazy/sloppy in how they apply the bible to their lives.
This ignorance and sloppiness is no trivial thing.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” the Lord says in Hosea 4:6. Earlier in the same chapter the prophet said, “Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.” (Hosea 4:1-2).
Keep in mind that in the Hosea passage the Lord is not speaking to the pagan nations; he is speaking to his covenant people. The people he redeemed from Egypt. The people to whom he gave the Law at Mt Sinai. The people he blessed and to whom he gave the promised land. The people he called to be his agents on earth.
A few verses later in chapter 4, Hosea gives an ominous warning: “A people without understanding shall come to ruin.” (Hosea 4:14)
The New Testament also warns that the time is approaching when people will neglect and distort God’s Word: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4.3-4)
Our generation is dominated by people with “itching ears” who reject the authority of the Word of God and only want to hear what they want to hear. The Greek word for “itching” is knetho, and it means “to itch or tickle.” These people don’t seek the truth; rather, they want sermons that tickle their ears and make them feel good.
With a heavy heart it must be acknowledged there are churches with people who have itching ears, and in the pulpits of those churches are teachers who do not teach the truth, but instead tickle and stimulate the passions of the people with what is popular in society. You will find many of those false teachers on TV, because their message appeals to people who want their ears and desires tickled.
It makes me think of Proverbs 27.6: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; many are the kisses of an enemy.”
We need to restore the biblical integrity of the church. We need to recommit to the authority of God’s Word in our lives personally and in the life of the church corporately.
We are the covenant people of God in our generation. We are the Israel of God. Like OT Israel, we have been redeemed from slavery; we have been given God’s Word; we are joined in covenant relationship with God; we have been blessed and given the promise of the coming kingdom; we are the people the Lord has called to be his agents and ambassadors on earth.
If we fail to be workers who rightly handle the word of truth, then we will fail in the mission to which the Lord calls us.
May we hear and respond to the truth of the Word of God. May we be faithful workers—spiritual craftsmen—who wisely and skillfully handle the sword of the Spirit as we apply it to the way we go about our lives every day.
Trust God and be a faithful, diligent worker who rightly handles the word of truth..