Soteriology 038Philippians 2:12 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 13, 2016 • Soteriology - The Doctrine of Salvation
Soteriology 38, Philippians 2:12
November 13, 2016
Father, we’re thankful for today, we’re thankful for what I would call Your hand of grace on our country and You treat us beyond what we deserve and so we are grateful for that, we’re grateful that we begin with You by grace and we stand by grace and we’re kept by grace. Help us to understand this doctrine of grace as we go through it this morning in Sunday School, particularly as we try to understand grace in light of the issue that many people think you can lose your salvation and so we recognize that a lot of verses have been misapplied And so we pray that You will be with us today and help us to come to a right understanding of these verses. We lift these things up in Jesus’ name, Amen.
I think we have some handouts back there; does anybody need a handout. Maurice has got it, the guy that’s injured is walking around giving people handouts. The guy just out of surgery is hobbling around there.
And you can take your Bibles and turn to the book of Philippians if you don’t mind; Philippians 2:12. The big picture, as we have been doing a study on soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, and we’re at Roman numeral VII where we’re learning a lot about eternal security. And we’re spending a lot of time on that one because that’s a big issue; it’s a big issue in terms of your walk with God, coming down on where you settle on the issue of eternal security.
Eternal security is the idea that the grace of God that saved you is the grace of God that keeps you. So just like we’re not saved on the basis of our works we’re not kept on the basis of our works either. And so if you believe that your salvation is a grace operation from beginning to end it leads to the conclusion that you really can’t lose your salvation because your salvation doesn’t depend on you to begin with. Amen! Does it make anybody want to rejoice? That makes me very happy to see that in the Bible.
So we’ve gone through eternal security arguments and most of your studies that you get today in the modern church on eternal security will just sort of give you their favorite passages, which we’ve done but the reason people are confused about this is nobody stands up and explains the other side and the passages they use and how their use of passages can be explained. So that’s why this study is taking a little longer than your typical eternal security in eight weeks. We’re actually trying to interact with the other side of the argument.
So there are many, many passages that at first glance make it look like you can lose your salvation. There’s a bunch of them in the Old Testament, a bunch of them in Matthew, including the unpardonable sin, a bunch of them in John, many passages people use to deny eternal security in the book of Acts, and currently we’re going through passages that Paul brings up.
Here are the ones we’ve looked at: Galatians 5:4; Galatians 5:19-21, Romans 8:13, isn’t it great, we’ve covered all this ground. 1 Corinthians 8:11, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, I Corinthians 11:28-32, 1 Corinthians 15:2. Now last time we were together, and I thank Jim McGowan for teaching last week, I trust you enjoyed his ministry to you, but the prior Sunday we spent the whole time on 2 Corinthians 13:5, which says examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith. And I tried to show you that that verse is not opening the door to a denial of eternal security; it’s a test to determine your growth in Christ, not whether you’re “in Christ” to begin with.
So we’ve got about five more passages to look at and then we finish Paul and what he allegedly says that denies security, which he doesn’t. I don’t know how far we’re going to get today, I’d like to finish these today, I kind of doubt we will but we’ll give it a good shot and what we don’t finish today we’ll finish next week.
But notice Philippians 2:12, this is one of those verses that’s constantly used by people who deny eternal security. Paul writes, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;” so people look at that expression “work out your salvation” that must mean I have to do something to keep myself in God’s power and if I’m not doing something to keep myself in God’s power then I need to be experiencing “fear and trembling” because maybe I could go to hell; maybe I could be saved, commit some kind of sin and lose my salvation.
So with most of these verses it’s just a matter of putting them back in the context. If you cherry pick one verse you can make it sound any way you want it to sound. But verses and words have meanings based on the context that they’re found in. So what is the context of Philippians 2:12? You might remember the three tenses of salvation, have we gone through that enough, do I need to go through that again? I have been saved, justification; I am being saved, sanctification, that’s my growth in Christ; and I will be saved, glorification. So justification, I’m saved from sin’s penalty at the point of faith in Christ; now God loves me as I am but He loves me too much to leave me as I am. Amen! So now He ushers me into phase two of my salvation which is my growth, where here I am hopefully not sinless but I’m sinning less as I grow in the knowledge of my resources in Christ and appropriate those by faith and obedience moment by moment. That’s the middle tense of salvation that we are all in today. And then of course the day will come where I’ll either die or be raptured, one of the two, and I’ll be out of this body and I’ll be saved from sin’s very presence.
So people, when they apply Philippians 2:12 to the eternal security debate and it says “work out your salvation by fear and trembling” they think that is speaking of phase one of salvation and that’s the confusion. But Philippians 2:12 is not speaking of phase one of salvation, I believe it’s speaking of the middle tense of salvation and I know that based on what? Context, because when you just stop looking at verse 12 and then you look at verse 14-16 which comes right afterwards, what does it say?  “Do all things without” what? “grumbling or disputing;” now is that phase one of salvation or phase two? It’s phase two. He goes on and he says there in verse 15, “so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” Is that talking about the believer’s initial salvation or is it talking about his or her experience? It’s talking about his experience or her experience as they walk with God.
He goes on in verse 16 and he says, “holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” Here he’s not talking about initial salvation, he’s talking about his experience with Christ as a result of being a Christian.
So that is the context of “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” it’s not a statement about how to get saved or how to stay saved, it’s really a statement about how to grow. And we should do it with “fear and trembling” because God, although He’s not going to rip the carpet out from under you should you fail, and we fail often, He is very concerned about our development in Christ. He’s like a parent, I look at the amount of work that my wife puts in homeschooling our daughter because she’s not just worried about the initial birth of our daughter, she’s worried about her intellectual and moral development. And that’s how Paul is treating these Philippians here.
The whole book of Philippians is really not a book about how to get saved, it’s how to stay saved; that’s a misreading of the book. If you go to Philippians 4:2-3 you see the middle tense salvation emphasis on this where it says, “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.  Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” Now is there any doubt that these two women had experienced salvation? I mean it’s obvious that they are saved because it says there at the end of verse 3 that their “names are in the book of life.” The only way you get your name in the book of life is if you exercise initial faith in Christ. And Paul thought they were saved because he had recruited them into his ministry, because he says there they have struggled with me in the cause of the gospel.
But you see, they were failing, not in the first tense of their salvation, they were failing in the middle tense of their salvation because they were fighting like cats and dogs; we’re not really told what issue it was but what can happen to us as Christians is we can go back into the sin nature and get very self-centered. And we get offended at the slightest thing that happens and so we revert back to our old sinful ways which is very easy to do. That’s why I call these women instead of Euodia and Syntyche, I call them Odius and Sin touché.
So you’ve got a couple of women… it’s not just women that are like this we’re all like this, but in this case he’s dealing with two women. These are women that are saved, they once stood with him in the cause of the gospel and now they’ve reverted back into the sin nature and they were arguing about something. It must not have been that important what they were arguing about because Paul never tells us what the issue was. I have a tendency to believe it was someone’s turf was interfered with. You know, you got more time on the piano than I got (I don’t know if they had a piano back then but…), you got more time giving announcements than I got, or something like that, some really important issue….
And they were going back into the sin nature and they were fighting with each other and they were dividing the body of Christ. Paul never questions their salvation; he never says you all aren’t saved or you wouldn’t be acting that way because the Christian very much has an ability (sadly) to revert back into the sin nature, away from divine resources and become like this very quickly. So Paul is calling them on the carpet here, not for the first tense of their salvation but they’re failing in the middle tense of their salvation. And that’s the whole context of “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” So therefore Philippians 2:12 really has zero to do with loss of salvation.
Continuing on with the prison letters, why do we call these the prison letters? Because Paul wrote them in prison. Let’s go one book to the right to Colossians 1:23, here’s another verse that’s commonly used to deny eternal security. By the way, an easy way to remember these Bible books is God’s Electric Power Company—Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. Or if you don’t like that one Go Eat Pop Corn, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. Sometimes when you’re in a Bible study and somebody says turn here or turn there it’s kind of hard to remember where all the books are but if you just remember that anacronym you won’t get lost too bad I don’t think.
So we go to Colossians 1:23 and here’s another one that is used by folks that deny security. Paul says in Colossians 1:23, “if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” Now you notice this expression, “if indeed you continue in the firmly in the faith firmly established and steadfast” so the person that denies once saved always saved looks at that and says well, “if” is the door being opened to the possibility that maybe these people will not continue in the faith. And if they don’t continue in the faith they will not continue to be “firmly established,” they will not continue to be “steadfast.” So the if clause (in the minds of a lot of people) opens the door to the possibility of loss of salvation; maybe they won’t continue in the faith and if they don’t continue in the faith maybe they will not be secure, “established and steadfast.”
So you can see at first glance how a verse like that looks like you can lose your salvation. But once again the context is the key. So what is the context of the book of Colossians? The context is he’s again addressing believers so he’s not talking to people that maybe they’re saved, maybe they’re not. Colossians 1:2 he says, “To the” what? “saints and faithful” what? “brethren in” who? “Christ” sounds like they’re saved people to me, then it says, “Grace to you and peace” these are things that they’ve already experienced from who? “from God our Father.”
And I won’t go through every verse but when you just look at verse 4 of chapter 1, verse 5 of chapter 1, verse 6 of chapter 1, verse 14 of chapter 1, verse 15 of chapter 1, it’s almost impossible to argue that these people were unregenerate or maybe their salvation is in doubt. That’s just outside of the context to argue that.
[Colossians 1:4, “since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;  because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel  which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;” [13-14] “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”]
Having said all that then if they’re already saved then what is Paul worried about? I mean, they’re going to heaven, what is Paul concerned about? Paul’s concern is their continued maturity. Paul is not just an obstetrician, that helps with the birthing process, he’s also a what? Pediatrician that helps the child grow. Paul desires their continued maturity. Now why would he care about that? So they can have a favorable ruling at the future judgment seat of rewards.
Now when I was in Albuquerque last weekend speaking at a prophecy conference and they let me into the pulpit on Sunday morning, that’s dangerous sometimes for a pastor to let some other pastor he doesn’t even know into the pulpit, I taught on the judgment seat of rewards, it’s a prophecy conference, the judgment seat of rewards is a prophetic issue, and as you study the judgment seat of rewards you see that this is something that Paul is really concerned about. And I think Paul thinks differently than we think in modern evangelicalism; our whole focus is to get people saved, get them to believe in Jesus so they won’t go to hell, which obviously is a big deal. But what you discover with Paul, and we think once they’re saved, okay, we’ve got them checked off our list, let’s go get other people saved. But you see with Paul he is concerned about getting people saved but he’s also concerned about the fact that they are going to stand before the Lord as a Christian at the future judgment seat of rewards and they’re either going to be given rewards or not given rewards based on how they allowed the Lord to express Himself through them during their Christian life.
And what you discover when you read Paul is this like an overarching concern and he’s very concerned about the Corinthians on this issue and when you study the book of Corinthians you can see why he’s concerned. They are about as saved as you can get but about as carnal as you can get and that’s why to the Corinthian church in chapter 3 he unfolds the future Judgment Seat of Rewards. And what you discover is Paul is concerned with the Colossians on this because take a look at Colossians 1:22, he says, “yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death,” in other words these are people that have already experienced reconciliation with God, they’re no longer enemies of God, they have a right standing with God because of justification, personal faith in Christ. So Paul is acknowledging that they’re already saved. Yet the concern of Paul continues, verse 22, “yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to” what? “to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—” So Paul is concerned about not just their justification, he’s concerned about the fact that they are going to be presented before Jesus Christ at this future judgment seat of rewards.
If you go down to verse 28 he says, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” So my goal is not just to evangelize you and get you saved, I want to complete you in Christ, I want to give you the full realm of doctrine that I as an apostle have been given by God because I want you to be “complete,” complete in the sense that I want you to be ready for this future judgment seat of rewards that’s coming. Now for this to happen they, the Colossians, must continue on in the faith despite the inroads of false doctrine because what was happening in Colossae is false doctrine was coming into the congregation. False doctrine cannot deactivate your initial salvation, that’s eternally secure; what it can do is it can stagnate, it can thwart, it can hinder, it can retard if I can use that expression, or slow down your development. And that’s why Paul is so concerned about false doctrine. He’s not worried about it because somehow the Colossian’s salvation is going to be undone, what he’s worried about as a pediatrician their maturity and their growth.
And notice what Paul is worried about; go to Colossians 2:8, he’s writing here to saved people, “See to it that no one takes you” what? “captive” isn’t that interesting, that a Christian can go into captivity theologically, “See to it that no one takes you captive through” what? “philosophy” in other words the ideas of man that aren’t anchored in the Scripture, that’s philosophy. “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception,” notice a Christian can go into deception, “empty deception according to” what “the traditions of” who? “men,” you buy into the ideas as a Christian that aren’t found in the Bible, you just hear someone say it and if someone says it it must be true, I mean, I read it on the internet after all, it’s got to be true, and you don’t really look at the actual biblical content of what is being taught, you just buy into an idea. And as that happens you move into captivity, philosophy, empty deception, according to the traditions of men, “according to the elementary principles of the world,” elementary meaning if you buy into the teachings of man instead of God you go back to your ABC’s, you go back to really simplistic stuff although it comes across as real sophisticated. So the teachings of Christ are so high and so grandiose that when you leave that and buy into the traditions of men it’s almost like returning to kindergarten, that’s what he’s worried about. “…according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
We won’t look at the whole thing but if you want to know what they were on the precipice of buying into it’s expressed in verses 16-23; it’s what’s called by the commentators the Colossians heresy which is an early form of Gnosticism with a bunch of other strange ideas rolled into the mix. There’s a heavy dose of angel worship; there’s a heavy dose of legalism; there’s a heavy dose of the physical world is evil, the spiritual world is good; there’s a heavy dose of trying to put people back under the prior dispensational teachings of the Law, the Mosaic Law and the whole thing is kind of rolled together in this nightmare, it’s such a nightmare we don’t have a word for it so the commentators just call it the Colossian heresy.
So if you go into that heresy what is going to happen? Colossians 1:23, [“if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.”] you’re not continuing in the faith, and you’re not continuing in the fact that you’re firmly established and steadfast; you’re not progressing to your destination, even though you’re going to heaven. You’re going to stand before the Lord and you’re going to have salvation to be sure, but when it comes to rewards you’re not going to have anything from the Lord, and that’s what Paul is worried about; that’s his overarching concern.
Now the “if” here, “if indeed you continue in the faith” is what we call in Greek a first class condition, I haven’t spent much time in this church talking about first class conditions, second class conditions, third class conditions, fourth class conditions, and I may get into that at some point but the key thing to know about a first class condition in Greek grammatically is the “if” assumes they will persevere. So it’s like saying “if” and giving a conditional statement and assuming that that condition will be met for the sake of argument. That’s how this reads in Greek. So in Colossians 1:23 Paul says, “if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast,” and because that’s a first class condition he’s assuming they’re going to continue on. So he is worried a little bit about the Colossians heresy but he looks at his audience and he says you know it’s not going to… in the big picture I think you guys are going to be okay; I’m warning you about it but you’re on the right path and you won’t succumb to it.
And you see, once you get into the subject of first class conditions that blows the whole eternal security argument because the way people read this is they want to read maybe they’re not going to continue on in the faith and Paul wouldn’t have expressed his idea that way through a first class condition. So believe it or not, I know we look at grammar and we roll our eyes and say oh no, I’m going back to grammar school, the pastor is talking about grammar; actually Greek grammar is a big deal in terms of developing your theology. So I don’t bring up grammar and Greek just to drown you and bore you with it, I bring it up where it’s pertinent.
So the big picture is this: their ultimate salvation is not in doubt but Paul, it’s also clear to them that their ongoing growth would require that they persevere in the faith, resist the allurements of the Colossians heresy and they’re going to stand before the Lord and they’re going to be fully rewarded at the Bema Seat Judgment of rewards. So again you put this back in context and isn’t a verse at all that opens the door to the possibility that you can lose your salvation although it sort of reads that way at first glance.
Let’s leave the prison letters and what are the prison letters? Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, actually let me give them to you in order. The prison letters are written in Acts 28:16-31, that’s the time period when Paul was in Roman prison the first time, and during that time period he had two years; it probably went from about A.D. 60-62. And during that time period he wrote, because of circumstances that arose, four letters, Ephesians, secondly would be Colossians, and he also wrote during that time Philemon and then Philippians he wrote probably last. And the reason we put those in the order we put them into is you can see Paul’s rising optimism that he’s going to be getting out of prison because he thinks his trial before Caesar is probably going to go in his favor. So you see this rising optimism, particularly in Philippians, he’s very optimistic that he’s going to be getting out of prison soon. So that’s one of the reasons that we put them in the order that we put them in.
But then Paul is let out of prison and he is… the book of Acts doesn’t record this but from about A.D. 62 to A.D. 67 he’s free and in that time period, about five years, he starts to write what are called the pastoral letters because they are written to who? Pastors. So we have in Paul’s writings three pastoral letters. When he got out of prison the first one he wrote was 1 Timothy, written to Timothy who was struggling to be a pastor at the church at Ephesus. Then he wrote Titus; Titus is trying to be a pastor on this little island called Crete there in the Mediterranean ocean. How would you like that assignment. And then Paul, in A.D. 67 is thrown back in prison and that’s where he writes which book, which is his last will and testament? 2 Timothy, which we’ve studied in depth at this church.
So in 1 Timothy, his first pastoral letter, chapter 5, verse 15, let’s go over there if we could, just go to Colossians and just jump past the Thessalonian books and then you should come to 1 Timothy 5 and verse 15. He makes a statement in 1 Timothy 5:15 which makes it look, at first glance, as if you can lose your salvation, because he says, chapter 5 verse 15, “for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.” People look at that, “turned aside to follow Satan,” how could a Christian turn aside to follow Satan? So obviously what’s happened here is these people have lost their salvation. So let’s see if we can unpack this a little bit by putting it back into its what? Context.
If you look at 1 Timothy 5:15 he is talking about widows and in this paragraph he’s not talking about the elderly widows, he’s talking about the young widows that have lost their husbands for whatever reason, so they’re kind of footloose and fancy free, I guess we can put it that way, and look at what he says in the whole context there, beginning at verse 11. He says, “But refuse to put younger widows on the list,” now “the list” is probably those in the church that need financial support. You have to understand that in the first century world you didn’t have a safety net of any kind; there’s no such thing as social security and Medicare and some of these safety net things that we have today. So if you were a widow without a husband you were in a state of vulnerability. So the church, when their family couldn’t pick up the slack and help them or many times they had no family, the church is responsible for helping out its members that are in that condition, an elderly widow.
But after talking about elderly widows he starts talking about the younger widows and he says,  “But refuse to put younger widows on the list,” in other words they’re young and they can remarry, “for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married,  thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge.” So it’s really talking here about younger people with their sexual desires, sexual impulses and… I don’t know how much I want to say about that but that’s the best I can do with the context. He says at the time they also learn to be idle. See, these aren’t widows that he’s dealing with here that are godly, have a godly character and need support. Look at how these people are described here:  “…they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.” So they become talebearers, they just run around in the church and they cause trouble, and these are not the people to put up with. The elderly women that need the support, that have demonstrated godly character, you do put them on the list for purposes of helping them, but not this group here that he’s talking about.
Then he says,  “Therefore, I want younger widows to get married,” I don’t know how well Paul would have done in the 21st century world, some of this stuff he says; I mean, look at what he says, it just cracks me up, “Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, to bear children, and to keep house,” wow, go over to U of H and say that today and see what kind of reaction you’re going to get. “Therefore, I want younger women to get married, to bear children, and to keep house and give the enemy no occasion for reproach.” Then he comes to the verse that I just quoted on the screen a little earlier, verse 15, “for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.” So what is he getting at here? He’s not even getting into the subject of eternal security. What he’s talking about is believing younger church widows becoming worldly; that’s what he’s talking about. And when he says “follow Satan” I believe that what he’s talking about here is these younger widows are following Satan’s system because what you’ll see in the Scripture is a connection between Satan and his world system.
So sometimes to refer to the world system the biblical writers will just use the expression “Satan” because who is running the world system? The devil. Satan is called the prince of this world, John 12:31 [“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” KJV]. He’s called the prince and power of the air, Ephesians 2:2, [“in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”]
And Paul oftentimes in his writings refers to the world as Satan. He does that in 1 Corinthians 5:5, 1 Timothy 1:20 and I believe that he’s doing that again here in 1 Timothy 5:15 and that’s what he means when he says for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. [1 Corinthians 5:5, “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:20, “Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.” 1 Timothy 5:15, “for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.”]
In other words, these younger Christians, these younger women, these younger widows, they’re sort of following the satanically energized world system. So you put all of this together and this is a warning against worldliness, that’s really what it is. It’s not a warning about loss of salvation; obviously a Christian has the ability to go back into the things of Satan. Just ask Peter about that sometime when you get to heaven. Peter made a statement about Jesus trying to talk Him out of going to the cross and Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me” what? “Satan.” And we know that we easily go back into the satanic system of the world when we start catering to the sin nature. That’s what gives Satan an inroad into our lives.
Satan cannot possess the Christian because your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. He can, though, if we yield to the sin nature, which we don’t have to but we yield to the sin nature because we want to many times, we give Satan an ability to influence us; not possess us but influence us. And this is why the book of Hebrews, chapter11 and verse 25 speaking to Moses says, “choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” Notice the expression “passing pleasures of sin.” That’s what these younger women in Ephesus, Timothy is pastoring at Ephesus, were getting involved in. And as they were getting involved in the “passing pleasures of sin” they were opening up their minds and their hearts and their bodies to some extent to the influence of the devil.
1 John 2:15-17, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life, it’s a description of the satanically energized world system that we’re in, and as we move back into Satan’s system as Christians, James 4:4 says we become adulterers, spiritually, because we are the bride of Christ. [1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. James 4:4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”]
So when Paul says “some have turned aside to follow Satan” he’s not, I don’t believe making a statement about loss of salvation. In fact, you read this and loss of salvation is not even in the passage at all; he’s talking about Christians yielding to the sin nature, giving Satan influence in their lives and consequently going back into the world system from which they came. It is completely possible for a Christian to go back into that world system and still be a Christian. And I’ll show you an example of that in just a second.
But if you doubt the idea that a Christian can be influenced by Satan in any way ask yourself this basic question: If Satan has no influence over me as a Christian then why am I told over and over again, in Ephesians 6, to put on the full armor of God. I mean obviously that command, and those are all imperatives there in Ephesians 6, that we put on the different pieces of armor, the command doesn’t make any sense unless the enemy has targeted me and has targeted you and wants us to compromise our walk with Christ.
In the same book, Ephesians 4:26-27, Paul very clearly says, “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your wrath” or anger, [27, “and do not give the devil an opportunity.”] That’s why I’ve always wanted to move to Alaska because the sun never goes down, right? I could just be angry all the time. That’s not what I’m getting at. What he’s saying is don’t become bitter; when someone hurts you which happens in the church world, Amen? Don’t sit there and hold on to that and let it develop in you what the book of Hebrews calls a “root of bitterness. [Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”] But forgive as you’ve been forgiven because if you don’t do that Paul says very clearly, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger, lest you give the devil a” what? “foothold.” Satan comes right in, he can’t possess you but he can influence you, just like he influenced the thinking of Peter. And hurt people (as the saying goes) hurt other people. So I know that when I’m harboring a bunch of anger because someone hasn’t treated me correctly I know the stuff that comes out of my mouth towards innocent parties many times. It’s just a bunch of venom and anger which hurts them so by allowing the sun to go down on my anger I’ve given the devil a foothold.
Very clearly the Christian cannot be possessed but he (or she) can be heavily influenced by Satan. And that’s what was happening to these widows here as they were following Satan and his world system. So again these are not first tense salvation issues; these are what tense salvation issues? Middle tense salvation issues.
I was going to go into 2 Timothy 2:12 but I think that will take too long so we’ll come back to that next week but let’s go to 2 Timothy 4:10, this would be an example of a worldly person. If you doubt that a Christian can go back into the world study the few biblical references we have to this man named Demas. And this is something that Paul says at the very end of his life; he’s now in his second imprisonment. It’s not like his first imprisonment that’s given to us in Acts 28 where he could receive visitors and evangelize freely. This time he’s basically by himself; he’s only got a few people with him that are still standing. And in fact, in this letter he talks about how Asia has deserted him. That blows my mind because that was… Asia was Paul’s most prolific ministry if you study Acts 19, particularly verse 10, it says “all in Asia heard the word of the Lord.” [Acts 19:10, “This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.”]
And then, I don’t know, a decade or so more perhaps had passed, he’s by himself, he’s ready to die, he says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.” And in this same letter he says all in Asia have deserted me. So it’s staggering how the church can be birthed, how people could be walking with the Lord and then something hits the church in the way of persecution or deception or false doctrine and that causes people just to no longer walk with God.
And one of the guys that he was very troubled about was this guy named Demas, and this is what he says in 2 Timothy chapter 4, verse 10, he says, “For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens and has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” So people that deny eternal security look at that and they say aha, there’s an example of a guy that deserted Paul so he obviously lost his salvation. The Calvinist camp looks at that and says well, this was obviously a guy that didn’t have true faith in Christ because in the Calvinistic system it you’re a true Christian, which is faith given to you as a gift, it could never fail. So if God gave you faith your faith cannot fail and there should be nothing in your life but increasing fruit and productivity. And if that’s not there then I don’t know, maybe you’re not one of the elect, maybe you never received the gift of faith, which to me is a nightmare of a doctrine because what that does is it makes… because who’s lived perfectly as a Christian? It makes everybody guess well, am I a Christian or am I not a Christian. And so as that doctrine takes off and gets inroads into the body of Christ you have this epidemic of people that lack the assurance of salvation, which we think is a Scriptural idea.
So what’s going on here with this guy named Demas? Well, there’s no doubt that Demas was a legitimate believer. How do I know that? Because Demas is not just mentioned there in verse 10; he is mentioned earlier in Paul’s prison letters, favorably. He’s mentioned in Colossians 4:14; he’s mentioned in his one chapter book to Philemon, in Philemon 24. [Colossians 4:14, “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.” Philemon 24, “as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.”]
And when Paul says “Demas having loved this world has deserted me” [2 Timothy 4:10] does he ever say Demos lost his salvation? I mean you have to read that completely into the passage; it never says he lost his salvation. What it says is he deserted me at a ministerial level. This is the guy that stood with me and now he’s bailed out. Paul never says the guy is in hell or going to hell. He never opens the door to maybe this guy’s name was not written in the Lamb’s book of life. He never opens the door to the possibility that maybe his name was erased from the book of life. See, all these Arminian concepts have to be read into that passage; the passage is not saying that.
So what’s going on with this man, Demas? Demas, just like the younger widows in 1 Timothy 5, just like Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 4, they basically had become worldly. Now why had they become worldly? Because who orchestrates the course of this world? The devil. That’s why when Jesus is tempted three times by Satan in the wilderness, the way Luke records it, the middle temptation, Satan came to Jesus and said all the kingdoms of this world have been given to me and I can give them to whoever I want, so if you will just worship me I’ll give you the whole thing right now. And when you understand that middle temptation what you understand is the devil is offering Jesus a way, an end-run around the cross. Son of God, I know You’ve come into the world to redeem the world through the cross but You really don’t have to do that, I’ll just give You the whole thing now if you just worship me.
And you’ll notice that Jesus never says well that’s not true Satan, because it is true; we are living in the devil’s world. And that, beloved, will not change until the book of Revelation. It’s not going to change until Revelation 11:15, which says, “”The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of” what? “our Lord and of His Christ; [and He will reign forever and ever.]” That’s why when you study the book of Revelation, particularly the judgments, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, you read all that, you say man, I’ve read that before somewhere. Where else did the water become blood red? Well, that’s in the book of Exodus. Where else have I read about darkness? That’s in the book of Exodus. Where else have I read about locusts and scorpions? Oh, that’s in the book of Exodus. There was a reference to frogs in Revelation 16, demons like frogs. You say where else have I read about frogs? Well, that’s in the book of Exodus.
John is deliberately using Exodus imagery to describe the judgments of the book of Revelation. Now why is that? Because in the book of Exodus God is taking His people, Israel, out of 400 years of Egyptian bondage under a Pharaoh. What God is doing in the book of Revelation is the ultimate exodus where He’s not just taking His people out of Egyptian bondage under a Pharaoh, He’s taking the whole world out of the satanic bondage that it’s been in since the fall of man in Genesis 3. That’s why Romans 8 talks about how we are groaning, yearning for the day when the Lord redeems planet earth. And this time He won’t take His people out of the grip out Pharaoh, He’ll take the whole world out of the grip of the devil. So what we have to understand is until that happens, and by the way, the church is not going to make this happen; this is the great error of Kingdom Now theology, where the church wants to get out there and get active in the culture, which is not necessarily a bad thing but we think by our activities we can somehow bring in the kingdom. And you have to just throw out your whole eschatology to believe that.
The only person that’s going to bring in the kingdom is the who? The King. And if I understand that I’m not going to waste my time trying to build the kingdom today. I can’t tell you how many ministries I know that are out there and their vocabulary and their promotional literature, they say they’re doing kingdom work, well what does that mean? We’re building the kingdom, we’re expanding the kingdom. I’m not doing that because I understand eschatologically that the King is going to bring in the Kingdom. And this is sort of disturbing to me because people think eschatology doesn’t matter, who cares about the book of Revelation? The reason it matters is if you have a correct eschatology it will shape your view of what the church is called to do and not called to do. That’s why eschatology is a big deal.
So Satan orchestrates this world system; it’s orchestrated, 1 John 2 tells us through lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, the pride of life, it’s like a magnet that pulls on your life as a Christian constantly and tries to get you back into its system. And by the way, when you got saved you inherited three enemies that you didn’t have before. I call it three dimensional warfare: the world, which I’m describing here, the flesh, which is your sin nature that rebels against the dictates of the new nature, and then the world, the flesh and the devil himself, Lucifer who fell along with a third of the angels.
So you have inherited three enemies that you didn’t have before and they tag team on you to stop your witness, to thwart your development in Christ and this is why we need our minds renewed, Romans 12:2, because the world system is… I like how the Philips translation (I think it is) translates it. Paul says in Romans 12:2, don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold. [Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”] Every single day of your life as a Christian the world is exerting its value system on you, trying to pull you back into the way it thinks, knowing that your mission will be compromised if you move back into that system. And the only remedy to that is the renewal of the mind; you have to start thinking differently than the way the world works or thinks and the only way to do that is through a constant intake and input from the Scripture. And we’ve become spiritual adulterers.
So what happened to this man, Demas? He didn’t lose his salvation, he just succumbed, as so many do, to the siren song of the world. And Paul holds out Demas as a contrast to Paul because he says to young Timothy, in verses 6-8, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” consequently I’ll be ushered into the presence of God and I’m going to receive a very favorable ruling at the Judgment Seat of rewards. Verse 8, “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” I never became worldly, I fought the good fight under God’s power.
But compare that to Demas, verse 10, “for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me [and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.] Now why is he holding out these two examples, a positive example of non-worldliness and a negative example of worldliness? He’s saying to Timothy who do you want to be Timothy? Do you want to be me or do you want to be Demas, because Timothy is, as we talked about in our study of 2 Timothy, is thinking about throwing in the towel because the work of ministry is too difficult. He’s thinking about becoming worldly and Paul’s holding up a positive example in himself and a negative example in Demas, trying to get Timothy to make a choice. So that is the context of 2 Timothy 4:10, “Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me,” Paul never talks here in any way about potential loss of salvation. That’s outside of his thought pattern completely.
I think I’ll stop now. Any thoughts or questions.