(2 Timothy 1:13-14)
A lot of people like to flip
through the radio stations. On their dials, they find all
kinds of music: Christian, classical, jazz, rock, easy listening,
and hip hop. All these different styles reveal our appreciation
As I look through my library,
I find almost as many Bible translations as genres of music
on the radio: American Standard, New American Standard,
King James, New King James, New International, The Living
Bible, New Living Translation, Good News, Amplified, The
Message, and The English Standard Bible. Have you had your
Bible reading time in the same translation all these years
or have you branched out to appreciate some of the rich
variety we have in modern translations?
I prefer translations over
paraphrases because translations (New Living Translation,
for example) stick to the facts whereas some paraphrases
(Living Bible, for example) take liberties with the text
that don't always provide us with the intended meaning,
a fact that they tell us from the beginning. If we don't
know it's a paraphrase, we might be tempted to take literally
what was not meant to be taken so.
In my quiet time a couple of
days ago, I read a passage from the New Living Translation
for the sake of variety, a translation I like, but don't
generally use. Here's what the passage said: "Hold
on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from
me -- a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have
in Christ Jesus. 14 Through
the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully
guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you."
I. Understanding the Word
Timothy was Paul's protégé,
his son in the faith. Paul seemed to pour more into Timothy
than into anyone else he mentored. Even while imprisoned
in a dirty, dingy, and dark dungeon, and clinging to life
by a thread, he took time to write to Timothy again, whom
he had left behind in Ephesus as pastor of the new Church
there. Paul could sense that his life was ebbing away and
wanted to get off one last letter to dear Timothy. The things
about which he wrote were truly amazing.
In these verses alone, there's
so much it would take us a long time to exegete the passage.
Read verse 14 again and notice these five truths.
A. First, the word translated
through comes from a word that is sometimes translated
"with," "in," or "by." The
use of this word suggests that it's not inherent in us.
Instead, we need to utilize something beyond ourselves to
accomplish whatever needs to be accomplished. Paul tells
us what it is. It is…
B. Second, the power
of the Holy Spirit who lives within us makes it possible
to carry out that which Paul instructs. The power of the
Holy Spirit is no small power. Indeed, it is the same power
that created all that exists and will defeat our menacing
enemy; it is more powerful than a nuclear bomb and yet can
fit within our being…it is God's power…at our disposal.
C. Third, the phrase
that lives within us is a reminder of how intimate
our relationship with God is intended to be. Lives
comes from a word that means "indwells," "is
one with," and "becomes an inseparable part of."
The Holy Spirit who indwells us is wonderful, exciting,
holy, pure, and an incredible gift in and of Himself. But
He comes with a matchless power that becomes a part of our
being when we receive Jesus as Lord; He indwells us with
power; He becomes one with us to the point that when we're
walking in the Spirit, we have all the power we need for
all that God has called us to do and be. And notice something
else: the Holy Spirit does not live around us or outside
us, but within us, indicating that He permeates our entire
being and there is no place in our lives where He is not.
Through the powerful, personal,
and permeating Spirit within us, Paul instructed Timothy
then, and us now, to carefully guard the precious truth
that has been entrusted to you. If we're to use the power
of the Spirit within us, then the precious truth we are
called to guard is also within us. And if it is within us,
we are guarding it from influences within and without.
How can we carefully guard
something within us? By setting up a sentry in our hearts.
That sentry is set up when we commit to follow the Lord
with all our hearts; a full and complete submission to the
Lordship of Christ; and a daily renewal of that commitment
through intimate time spent alone with God in prayer and
Bible study. We have to have all three of these elements
in order for this precious truth to qualify as being carefully
D. The word precious
reveals that its value can't be measured by this world's
economy; it is valuable beyond description.
On a visit to the Beethoven
museum in Bonn, a young American student became fascinated
by the piano on which Beethoven had composed some of his
greatest works. She asked the museum guard if she could
play a few bars on it; she accompanied the request with
a lavish tip, and the guard agreed.
The girl went to the piano
and tinkled out the opening of the Moonlight Sonata. As
she was leaving, she said to the guard, 'I suppose all the
great pianists who come here want to play on that piano."
The guard shook his head. "Padarewski
[the famed Polish pianist] was here a few years ago and
he said he wasn't worthy to touch it."
Precious gifts are treated
differently by various people, usually based on their view
of themselves; if they think too highly of themselves, they
tend to believe they are worthy of the precious gift. But
if they have developed a humility rooted in a proper perspective
of themselves, then they understand that there are some
things too valuable to be taken lightly.
E. This precious truth
is no different. Its value is inestimable, but its importance
in each person's life is self-determined, based on their
view of themselves in relation to God. And what could this
precious truth be?
Perhaps John 14:6 will shed
some light on this mystery: "Jesus answered, 'I am
the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through Me.'" If that weren't a clear
enough clue, we could discover another clue by answering
the question: "What truth that has been entrusted to
us would qualify as being "precious?"" It
is the Gospel of Jesus Christ; or, Jesus Himself who lives
within us through His Spirit.
Now consider this: this precious
truth was given to us as a trust. Our great God entrusted
us with the most important and most valuable possession
He has: His only begotten Son and the redemption purchased
by His blood. For it to have been given us as a trust means
He's placed this truth within us believing we would respond
correctly to it, guard it with all that is within us, and
live it out as He intended. As I look within my own life,
I have to wonder, was His trust well-placed or misplaced?
How about with you? Consider these four insights as we apply
them to our lives.
II. Applying the Word of
A. The battle is within
me. I am called to guard this Truth because it is within
me. And because it is in me seeking to permeate all that
is within me, the battle is also within me. It's not a physical
battle, it's spiritual in nature. It's not a battle that
can be fought once; it's a battle that is ongoing…daily…hourly…
In a very real sense, it's
a battle of the wills: my will vs. His will.
That's why it's called a battle. The choice I make in the
battle, to accept my will for my life that day, or His,
determines who is Lord of my life. If I would be lord, I
must squelch the Truth and refuse to deny myself. So, who
is Lord of my life? Who is the Lord of yours? Only a truthful
answer will bring about the results we truly want.
B. The guard is within me.
The guard, or sentry, we are to place over our hearts for
the sake of righteousness, and over our minds to guard our
thoughts, cannot be posted outside of us; they can only
exist within us. We are called to guard the Truth that was
entrusted to us at the point of our salvation. In setting
up this sentry, I am to guard this Truth within me from
things in my own heart that would dilute the truth or cause
it to be of no effect. But I am also to guard against the
lies and false teachings of this world that would seek to
redefine this Truth, or silence it, in my heart. And God
is able to win this battle because "greater is He that
is in you than He that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
C. The power is within me.
The guard we place on watch in our lives to carefully guard
the truth comes with power. In fact, there is no greater
power that exists than that of the Holy Spirit within us.
He enables us to overcome every sinful habit, to make choices
that bring honor to the Lord, and to obey the Lord in ways
we never thought possible.
D. The Truth is within me.
It really is; it's in there; it's present always. According
to Scripture, it will always be there; He will never leave
us nor forsake us. Just as there's nothing we can do to
earn or gain our salvation, so there's nothing we can do
to lose it. It's not about me, or my power, or my
righteousness; it's about Jesus, His power, and His
So, think about the truths
and insights of these verses. As Paul instructed Timothy,
so he instructs you. God calls you today, as He called Timothy
then, to carefully guard the precious truth that has been
entrusted to you. Are you up to the challenge? Will you
obey His call? I believe you will. And as you do, may the
Truth contained in these earthen vessels slosh out all over
those around us. Lives will be changed to the glory of God.