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(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 for variety.


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 of God


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 guarded.


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 God


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… sometimes constantly.


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 righteousness.


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.










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Copyright © 2011. Faith Matters by Dr. Ken Lovelace. All rights reserved.


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