Whenever God creates something beautiful or does something good, you can be sure that Satan will try to corrupt it or counterfeit it. That is what happened in the church at Ephesus. When Paul started the church he preached the pure and simple gospel of Jesus Christ and many people were saved. He discipled the new believers, teaching them the life-changing truth that he had learned from Jesus Himself. This sound doctrine set the church up for success. They were on a truth trajectory, and it was a beautiful thing. But Satan didn’t wait long before he sent his minions to the church to destroy it from within.
False teachers began to creep in, targeting women who were new believers (v.6-7). They were vulnerable because of their ignorance combined with eagerness — they wanted to learn, but because they had a weak doctrinal foundation they were easy prey for the crafty liars. This revealed a problem with the discipleship process for new Christians in Ephesus. The church would apparently lead a person to Jesus and then leave them to fend for themselves. False teachers took advantage of this weakness and stepped in with deception.
Timothy had a battle on his hands. In the previous chapter Paul had told him to think like a soldier (see 2:3). In this chapter he tells him how to recognize and defeat the enemy. The false teachers had the look and the lingo of Christianity, but they could not fake the power of God. They had “the appearance of godliness” but they were destitute of God’s presence and anointing (v.5). In time, their behavior would give them away (v.9). Beliefs produce behavior. False beliefs produce all kinds of wicked behaviors (see the list in v.2-4). But believing the truth produces good things, virtues like faith, patience, love, steadfastness, and endurance (v.10-11).
Once again, Paul told Timothy to fight the lies with the truth. He pointed him back to the gospel he had taught him and the Old Testament Scriptures he had learned as a boy — the God-inspired truth that teaches us how to believe and behave, corrects us when we are wrong, and trains us to serve the Lord (v.14-17). Focus on that truth and you will know the enemy when you see him coming. You will not be easily deceived. You will believe rightly and behave rightly. That is the kind of life that stands strong in the face of persecution and victorious in the battle for righteousness (v.11-12). See, your time in God’s Word today is vitally important, isn’t it? Good job. Keep it up. I’ll meet you here tomorrow.