Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” – 2 Timothy 2:14–19
John Stott writes:
Paul’s instruction to Timothy about such bad workmen or false teachers is to ‘avoid’ them: ‘… charge them before the LORD to avoid disputing about words, which does no good, but only ruins he hearers’ (14). ‘Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk with eat its way like gangrene.’
The damage caused by such false teaching is double. It is both ‘godless’ and ‘gangrenous.’ That is, in the first place, it leads people away from God. What verse 16 literally says is that those who hold such teaching ‘advance more and more ungodliness.’ It is hardly an advance, however. As Patrick Fairbairn comments, it is ‘a forward movement in the wrong direction.’ In the second place, it spreads its infection in the community. Three times Paul reiterates this for emphasis: It ‘does not good, but only ruins the hearers.’ ‘Their teachings are dangerous as blood poisoning to the body and spread like sepsis from a wound’ (17 JBP). ‘They are upsetting the faith of some.’
These two tendencies of heresy are most revealing. We would be wise to ask ourselves regarding every kind of teaching both what its attitude is towards God and what effect it has upon men. There is invariably something about error which is dishonoring to God and damaging to men. The truth, on the other hand, always honors God, promoting godliness, and always edifies its hearers. Instead of causing a catastrophe, upsetting them or turning them upside down, it builds them up in faith, love, and holiness.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 32
Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.