ASHAMED OR NOT?
2 TIMOTHY 1:8-18
Shame. It is the very first emotion described in the Bible following the fall into sin. Do you remember the incident? Adam and Eve were living in the Garden and enjoying fellowship with God and with one another. Genesis 2:25 tells us that the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. And then came sin. With the coming of sin, we see a change in their attitudes both with one another and with God.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings (Genesis 3:7).
Do you see it? With the coming of sin, there came also an accompanying shame. They sought to hide their nakedness from one another and they sought to hide from God.
The gospel overturns the curse. It takes away the shame. That isnít a call to take off your clothes. I am NOT a Christian nudist. But it DOES mean that you can dispense with the fig leaves of your own self-righteousness. It means you donít have to try to cover up your sins and pretend that you are better than you really are. It means that you take your sin to the cross and that you can be honest with its sinfulness because there is a supernatural forgiveness at work. The gospel takes away the shame of our sin because Jesus took our shame upon Himself.
...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
Do you see it? A part of what Jesus did in enduring the cross involved despising the shame. This tells me that Jesus experienced the shame of our sin. Because of that, He calls us not to be ashamed of Him.
THE UNASHAMED GOSPEL
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. (2 Timothy 1:8-11).
This entire paragraph is made up of one long continuous sentence that never seems to come up for air. There is a technical name for this kind of sentence. It is called a duadiplosis. It means that the thoughts are chained together by a chain of clauses.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of GOD,
who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and GRACE
which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior CHRIST JESUS,
who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the GOSPEL,
for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.
If you have ever studied the Evangelism Explosion program under Dr. James Kennedy, you will note that nearly all of the key elements are to be found in this passage, albeit in a slightly different arrangement.
Notice how Paul introduces his point. He begins with the word "therefore." Whenever you see the word "therefore," you want to look and see what it is there for. It relates back to the previous verse.
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7).
Because God has given us a spirit of power and of love and of discipline, there is no reason for us to be ashamed of either the Lord or of His representative. Paulís reference to the testimony of our Lord speaks of the gospel. When we tell someone else about Jesus we are giving testimony or witness of our Lord.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16).
Power and shame do not go together. The gospel is nothing about which we have to be ashamed. It is the most magnificent news that can be imagined.
Notice how Paul describes himself: Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Remember the setting in which Paul writes this letter. He is in prison in Rome. But he does not refer to himself as the prisoner of Rome or the prisoner of Nero. He is Godís prisoner. He recognizes that all of the events that have taken place have passed through a nail-scarred hand.
Paul very briefly sets forth both the working and the purpose of the operation of Godís power.
The Working of Godís Power
The Purpose of Godís Power
Who has saved us
Who... called us with a holy calling
God delivered us from the very worst possible curse to give us the very best possible blessing. This is the message of grace. Contained in that message is a call to holy living.
The movie "Saving Private Ryan" contains some graphic language and even more graphic combat footage that is realistic to the point of being disturbing. The story itself is one of sacrifice and calling. A Captain is given the assignment of finding Private Ryan on the battlefields of Normandy and bringing him safely out of the fighting. As the movie unfolds, this assignment ends up costing most of his squad their lives. At the end of the film, the Captain has been mortally wounded and is breathing his last. He looks up at Private Ryan and gives him a closing charge, "Make your life count."
That story of sacrifice is only a pale reflection of the narrative of Christís sacrifice made on our behalf. We have a Savior who gave His life to save us. He has given us a similar charge: "Make your life count."
Our salvation was not a last-minute afterthought. It was planned and designed by God from eternity past. When you came to Christ, you were entering something that is older than the hills. You did not choose Him. He chose you before you were even born.
This goes contrary to modern American thinking. We live in a country that has adopted the motto that all things are available to the one who works hard enough. But you were not saved on the basis of your works. If you were saved at all, it was in accordance with the grace of God.
The central truth of Christianity is that God came near in the person of Jesus Christ. This is what Paul described in the last verse is that which was according to His own purpose and grace (1:9).
Jesus Christ abolished death. The Greek verb is the term katargew - it is a compound word (kata "down" and ergw, "to work"). It literally means, "to put out of work." That is what Jesus did. He put death out of business. He nullified and abolished death.
The opposite of abolishing death is the bringing about of life and immortality. One was the result of the cross. The other was the result of the resurrection.
AN UNASHAMED FAITH
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. (2 Timothy 1:12).
It is the facts of the gospel as expressed in the previous paragraph that served as Paulís impetus to the Christian life. Because he believed that a little Galilean Rabbi died for sins and was buried and rose again from the dead, that changed the way Paul lived.
Has it made a difference in your life? Has it made a difference in the way you live? In how you treat others? In what you do in your free time? In how you spend your money? In how you make your plans for the future?
If knowing Christ has not made a difference in your life, then you are a practicing atheist. You may say that you believe in God, but if there is no evidence of such a faith in your life, then you are living a lie.
Paul was going through things in his life and experiencing hardships and persecutions that would have been completely unnecessary if the message of the cross were not taken into the equation. After all, he is not writing these words from the comfort of a church office. He is in prison. And he expects to remain in prison for some time. And he expects that when he is brought out of prison, it will be a short road to his eventual execution.
What would be your attitude if you were in his sandals? Imagine that you are on trial for your life and you can see that your days are numbered. You have been deserted and are virtually alone. How would you feel? It is in such circumstances that Paul expresses his complete trust and dependence upon the Lord.
A GUARD AGAINST SHAME
Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:13-14).
Timothy is called to guard a treasure. The method of this guardianship is through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. What is it that he is to be guarding? I think it is the sound words mentioned in verse 13. These healthy words are Paulís teachings about Jesus as the Messiah and His death and His burial and His resurrection.
How do you "guard" such words? You do it by believing them. And by reminding yourself of them via the reading of the Scriptures. And you do it by sharing those words with others.
Notice that there are two ways in which Timothy is to hold to the words of Paul. First he is to hold to them in the FAITH that is in Christ Jesus. Jesus is not only the object of our faith. He is also the source of our faith. He is the One to whom we turn to get the faith the believe in Him. Do you ever have trouble believing? You go to Him and you ask Him for faith to believe.
Timothy is also told to hold the words that he has heard from Paul in the LOVE that is in Christ Jesus. It is not enough to speak the truth. We are to speak the truth in love. We are to reflect the love that was first manifested to us by Christ. When we talk to unbelievers about Jesus, we need to show them His love. Otherwise we are just going to make them mad. They may get mad anyway, but make certain that they are mad for the right reasons.
A SHAMEFUL EXAMPLE
You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. (2 Timothy 1:15).
Sometimes it is possible to show the love of Christ and to speak the truth of Christ and to still have people turn against you. It happened to Paul. It happened to Jesus. It will happen to you, too.
These two men are mentioned only here in the Bible. We donít know anything about them beyond what is given in this verse. They were among the many in Asia who turned away from the Apostle Paul. To understand what this means, you have to remember Paulís circumstances. He is in prison. He is on trial for his life. In the light of his standing before the Roman authorities, all of those who might have testified on his behalf have suddenly become silent. They have turned their back on Paul. That includes these two men who were evidently leaders within the churches of Asia.
A number of years ago I was on Fort Lauderdale Beach for one of their very first Air & Sea Shows. There was a huge crowd and the sky was blue and the breeze was comfortable off the ocean. I happened to notice a young man walking along the beach carrying a large wooden cross. He wasnít speaking or making a scene. He was merely walking with his cross in what was evidently a quite demonstration of his Christianity. As he drew close to where we were sitting on the seawall, another man belligerantly confronted him, yelling at him and saying how wrong it was for him to be carrying the cross. The young man made a quiet reply and there was a loud retort and the confrontation ended as they both went their separate ways.
The entire scene lasted only a few seconds, but during that time I had not moved or spoken. After all, I hadnít known the young manís doctrinal statement and I donít make it my practice to go up and down crowded beaches carrying a wooden cross. But as I thought back on it, I made a promise to myself that anytime I see a Christian stand up for his faith I am going to stand with him.
By pointing to this negative example of Phygelus and Hermogenes, Paul calls us to make the same kind of promise. Donít you be like them. Be bold and unashamed to stand up for the cause of Christ.
PORTRAIT OF UNASHAMEDNESS
The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chains;17 but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me, and found me-- 18 the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day-- and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus. (2 Timothy 1:16-18).
In contrast to the negative examples of Phygelus and Hermogenes, Paul now sets forth the positive example of Onesiphorus. He had been with Paul at Ephesus and more recently he had come to Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome.
The Greek word "refreshed" is translated from the Greek wordanayuch, a compound word made up of ana ("again") and yuch, ("to breathe or blow"). It presents the picture of being a breath of fresh air. I cannot help but to think of the times in my Fire-Rescue career when we have performed CPR on a patient and have used an Ambu Bag to breathe fresh air into a patient who had stopped breathing.
The point should be seen that even a spiritual leader like Paul needed the fresh air of encouragement at times.
We donít know much about Onesiphorus. He is not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament outside of this epistle. Paul will mention him again in 2 Timothy 4:19 when he tells Timothy to greet the household of Onesiphorus.
Everyone has heard of Paul. The apostles who took the gospel to the Gentiles. Bold. Eloquent of speech. Writer of epistles. Studied in the Scriptures. And then there was Onesiphorus. We know virtually nothing about him except that he came and served the Apostle Paul. Two servants of God, each serving the Lord in his own way. You may not have the gifts of an Apostle Paul. Few of us do. But we can all emulate the example of Onesiphorus.
Being a friend to Paul was not a particularly safe thing to undertake. But that didnít stop Onesiphorus. He went to the prison and he sought out Paul to befriend him. There was no shame at the chains of the Roman dungeon.
If a needy Christian came and knocked at your door, I am certain that you would do what you could to meet that need. But how diligent have you been to seek out those in need? Onesiphorus didnít wait for a request for help. He took it upon himself to seek out Paul.
Paul prays for the salvation of Onesiphorus. I believe that this is a prayer that was answered. It isnít that Onesiphorus earned his salvation through his service to Paul. Rather, I believe the actions of Onesiphorus were a manifestation of his faith in Christ.
There is a lesson here. One of the ways that you can tell the reality of a personís faith is by what they DO. Real faith results in real actions. The point that Paul makes is that those actions will have an impact upon the day of judgment. Jesus said the same thing.
But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on His right, "Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in PRISON, and you came to Me."
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?"
And the King will answer and say to them, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:31-40).
What would you do if Jesus were in need? If you had opportunity to do some kindness to Him. He says, "You do it for one of My people who is need, because that is the same as doing it for Me."