Ex. 19:21 π Ex. 20:19 π Jn. 10:27 π Jn. 16:13 π Acts 2:17 π 2 Cor. 7:1 π Eph. 4:14 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 2 Tim. 3:16 π 2 Tim. 3:17 π Heb. 1:1-2 π Heb. 5:12 π Heb. 5:12-14 π Heb. 8:11 π Heb. 12:25 π Jas. 3:2 π 2 Pet. 1:3-4 π 2 Pet. 3:16 π 1 Jn. 2:27 π 1 Jn. 2:29 π 1 Jn. 3:10
Paul wrote, "...the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." ( 2 Tim. 3:17 ) Paul's thought here is, at the end of a process, the effect is complete and the man of God is mature and completely equipped for every good work. But what is this process? Paul had just written, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (teaching), for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (what is right in God's eyes), so that..." ( 2 Tim. 3:16; top ) This is the process of which Paul speaks. Let us note the elements in this process.
- The Scriptures. These are God's words spoken to various men at various times in various circumstances. It is to our benefit to search out, as best we are able, what meaning God intended to convey to the original speaker, writer and hearer of His words and then seek to apply that to our own life.
- The inspiration of God. All Scripture is a spiritual message from the God who is Spirit. The man who hopes to rightly divide the truths contained in the Scriptures must submit himself to the same Spirit who inspired them or else he will join the ranks of those who twist the Scriptures and destroy themselves. ( 2 Pet. 3:16; top )
- Teaching. There is place in this process to completeness for teaching. But there also quickly comes a time when the man of God should be teaching others ( Heb. 5:12 ) and, because the Holy Spirit is our teacher, we do not need to put ourselves routinely under the teaching of any man. ( 1 Jn. 2:27; top )
- Reproof and correction. Everyone makes mistakes ( Jas. 3:2; top ) - the man who close his ears and stops his heart from embracing truth (about God and himself) so that he can continue on in his preferred practices and habits is headed for a serious fall.
- Instruction in righteousness. The rightly divided Scriptures are how we know what is right in God's eyes. The one who does what is right in God's eyes is the one who has genuine life in Christ. ( 1 Jn. 2:29 ) The one who does not practice righteousness (what is right in God's eyes) is not of God. ( 1 Jn. 3:10; top )
This process of submitting to the Scriptures and to the Spirit of truth is the way in which the man of God is made complete and equipped for good works. In our time, the devil has been able to so confuse the minds of men that "the man of God" has come to mean a special class or category within the circle of believers in Christ. The "man of God" must be a "priest," a "pastor," an "evangelist," an "apostle," a "prophet," an "elder" or at least a "deacon"! The "man of God," in most people's minds, is someone who, because of his eloquence or ability to be (or seem!) spiritual or saintly or "holy," is considered a superior example or specially "blessed" by God. Such men are deemed to be more able than others to dispense the words and wisdom of God but this is rarely the case, especially with the deeper things of God, because these men are more often in the process of making followers after themselves (whether knowingly or unknowingly) than they are in being and making true disciples of Christ.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. ( Jn. 16:13 ) Before the Spirit was poured out on all flesh ( Acts 2:17; top ), there was a need for leaders, prophets and priests to teach the words of God to the people. But there is, even in that, much to be gleaned from recognizing that this need was caused by the people being unable or unwilling to go to the Lord for themselves.
Consider the example of Moses and the Israelites. When the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning, the trumpet sounds and the smoking, shaking mountain, they said to Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die." ( Ex. 20:19 ) At that time, the people, in their fallen, rebellious condition for which no sacrifice had yet been made, would have come up the mountain to gaze (probably in mere curiosity) at the Lord but they were neither prepared nor equipped to come into the presence of God, let alone faithfully obey Him ( Ex. 19:21; top ) - as is clearly shown by the persistent rebellion and disobedience of the people of Israel throughout their history.
The writer of Hebrews opens his letter by telling us, "God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son..." ( Heb. 1:1-2 ) And near the end of his letter, he writes, "See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven..." ( Heb. 12:25; top )
Many have turned from the inner leading of the Holy Spirit to follow after some man. This is the work of the demonic spirits of antichrist who attempt to trick us into putting anyone or any thing in any rightful place of God, Christ or His Spirit in our lives. The Greek "anti" contains both the idea of antagonism ("against") and the idea of substitution ("in the place of") - Satan still desires to be in God's place, even in our own puny, insignificant lives! Until we learn to hear the voice of the Spirit of truth for ourselves, we will continue to be tossed and carried about by every teaching - whether of men or of demons - that comes our way. ( Eph. 4:14 , 1 Tim. 4:1; top )
The man of God is not some special class. It is any and every man who will submit to God's maturing process, forsaking all manmade substitutes and demonic counterfeits and pressing on to "perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord." ( 2 Cor. 7:1 ) Those who refuse to obey what the Lord is telling them now may one day very well find themselves unable to hear the voice of the Lord at all, even though these may go on to attain to great heights in their favorite established religious institution. "My sheep hear My voice," Jesus said. ( Jn. 10:27; top ) Sheep that belong to some other fold or to some other shepherd do not hear His voice.
The writer of Hebrews also points toward this process to completion when he writes, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." ( Heb. 5:12-14; top ) Use and exercise produces skill in handling the word of righteousness, what is right in God's eyes.
Let us note equally well the one who partakes only of milk. Milk is liquid taken from a mother's breast or from a bottle prepared by someone else! Milk is teachings given by another person - and anyone who gets all his Scriptural knowledge by this method will always be only a baby. Even though he may have to part his beard to get to the breast or bottle, he still sets his lips to a secondary source of light and truth. And when the "pastor" (or whatever other "man of God" he listens to) is really demonically influenced and controlled, the resultant "gospel" the man partakes of is poisoned and tainted with deceptions and distortions. But the man, because he has never bothered to enter into God's maturation process, thinks his knowledge is both light and life and he is never able to discern the mixture of impurity and falsehoods. Because his own senses have not been exercised - that is, his spirit and soul have not developed in their relationship with the Holy Spirit of truth and righteousness - the man remains unable to discern good and evil.
Peter told us that "[God's] divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." ( 2 Pet. 1:3-4; top )
How do we have all things that pertain to life and godliness and partake of the divine nature of God? Through our knowledge of Him who called us. Where do we gain that knowledge? Through God's process of completion - a process which is firmly rooted in the Scriptures, Scriptures which are opened up and rightly divided to us by the Spirit of truth, the Spirit with whom we have such a close relationship with that we quickly need no man to teach us about God because we already know Him. ( Heb. 8:11; top ) Any other process is merely a counterfeit deception intended to divert us away from Christ and God.
Let he who has ears hear.
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