Christian Discipleship is Counter-Cultural
2 Timothy 3:1-9 lays out a problem that the Apostle Paul saw arising within the church. He saw people within the church having the appearance of godliness, a knowledge of God, but not experiencing it’s transformative power. (See verse 5) Paul was pointing us to the possible differences of head knowledge versus heart transformation, cognitive understanding versus life change, or knowing about God versus experiencing the power of the Gospel.
Paul is cautioning us from just knowing about God, just learning about him, and not arriving at the “knowledge of truth”. In verses 2-4, we see this picture of people who have not had their hearts changed, in that, they appear to be godly, they know about God and they know the right answers to all the questions, but they still have hearts that are far from God. This “knowledge of truth” that Paul is speaking of is the message of the Gospel. It’s the truth that says in light of God’s perfection and holiness, we fall far short in our sin. It’s an understanding of the work of Christ on our behalf that leads to faith in Him for salvation. It’s the knowledge of the truth of God revealed in Christ that transforms the heart and life.
Scripture shows us that even Satan and his demons have a knowledge of who God is and even a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus, but they are not saved! Knowledge of God is crucial for the believer; it’s a work that the Spirit does in our lives, but, at the end of the day, knowledge on its own will not save us. We need our hearts and core identity transformed. Only a submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives, through our confession of faith, will lead to the transforming work of the Gospel.
For us, study and learning play a crucial part in our discipleship as believers. But, the important question for us to ask is: to what end is our knowledge leading us? Is it leading us to repentance, to continued transforming by the Spirit of God, to deeper faith and trust in our Savior? Or is it leading us solely to a head knowledge that promotes a life of pride and the appearance of godliness?
by Pastor Joe Byler
- In what ways have you experienced the disconnect between knowing about God yet not having that knowledge transform your heart and life?
- What are a few things that you “know” about God from scripture?
- How should that knowledge of God transform your life/heart?
- If it has not led to transformation, what heart level issues are resisting this?