Tuesday, 24 April 2018
But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:13
Paul now contrasts “all who desire to live godly” from the previous verse to those he will now describe. He says, “But evil men.” They are just the opposite of those desiring to live godly. The word is ponéros, a common word indicating evil, wicked, malicious, etc. In Matthew 7:11, Jesus equates it to the common state of man –
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
Paul here, however, speaks of those who are not only evil because of a fallen, sinful, nature, but who have no desire to live in a godly manner. Instead, they are “imposters.” The word used, goés, is found only here in the Bible. It is used to speak of a juggler or a sorcerer. Thus he is someone who deceives. In ancient Greek, it signified a howler. Thus it is “a fraud who ‘sounds off’ like a whining enchanter. This person uses [his] verbal spells and incantations to give the (false) impression [he] can do miracles” (HELPS Word Studies).
This is actually a beautiful description of the modern charismatic teachers who use deception in, or to perform, supposed miracles and the like. Paul says that they, and others like them, “will grow worse and worse.” Using charismatics as our example, they start out with a bit of cheating in their presentation of explaining God’s word, or in the application of it. From there, they go further by claiming a miracle. From there, they go further and claim not only the performance of a miracle, but an ESP-like ability to determine that someone in the audience has a certain affliction, calling them up to be healed. In supposedly healing them, they go further still – from one deception after another. The Greek literally reads that they “shall proceed to the worse.”
Each cunning display of deception requires something more in order to keep the sensational alive. They claim that God speaks to them, and that God works through them. They are thus deceiving and being deceived. They deceive their audience, and the audience drinks it in like water coming down upon a dry desert. But in their deception, they actually begin to believe that they have divine powers and become deceived themselves. They believe that they are conduits of God, doing His work. And yet, they are evil followers of the devil’s devices.
Life application: Peter Popoff claims to be a charismatic faith healer. He would claim that he could feel someone in the 4th row had a heart defect. Then he would claim to heal the person. Eventually, someone found out that he had wireless transmission to an earplug telling him who to target, what affliction he had, etc. He is a charlatan. And yet, people still follow him and send him loads of money. He is typical of countless charismatic faith-healers. They are deceivers, and they are being deceived. And yet, the audience continues to follow these people like sheep being led to the slaughter.
Lord God Almighty, give us wisdom in our walk with You. Paul warns against those who are “deceiving and being deceived.” This shows us that we can be a part of the equation. If we are willing to be deceived, then we will be deceived. May we rather be willing to diligently study Your word, walk away from deception, and be grounded in sound theology. Help us from being caught up in that which is unhelpful and unproductive. Amen.