The difference between the believers and nonbelievers in the church

So, what did you think about the title? I intentionally worded the title the way that I did because this is what Paul is trying to point out to Timothy. Just being in a church does not make you a follower of Jesus Christ. In fact, a great portion of chapter 3 is dedicated to the people who are in the church but do not know God.

Now, before we jump in to the meat of this passage, I want to review what we have already discovered from II Timothy 2.

Paul spent a great deal of time to encourage Timothy to stand firm in Christ by standing firm in the Word of God. The reason that we need to stand firm in the Word is because not everyone who sits with us on Sundays is actually part of the body of Christ, even if they have walked an isle, been baptized, and are a member of the church. In order to understand this article, take a moment to read II Timothy 2. Now, let’s see what God has to teach us.

I. The faithful

Paul spends a great deal of time explaining what the faithful people of the Lord look like on a daily basis, not just what they portray from Sunday to Sunday. The commands of the text show us what a believer looks like.

  • Stand strong in Christ
  • They have been entrusted with the Word of God
  • They make disciples who make disciples
  • They suffer through hardship because they know their calling
  • They have one purpose in life and build their lives around that purpose
  • They train hard to compete to win
  • They work hard, knowing that the fruit will come
  • They ponder the teachings of the Word of God
  • They have died with Christ
  • They endure
  • They are diligent in the Word of God
  • They know how to handle the Word of God
  • They know what kind of discussions to avoid
  • They know what they need to avoid, specifically their youthful lusts
  • They are not argumentative

I have made bold two phrases that I want to focus on that come from the passage. The first one is “to die with Christ”. What does it look like to die with Christ? As a cross reference, I want to look at another one of Paul’s writings on this subject of dying with Christ. The passage is Romans 6. This teaching means that we have died to our old way of life. The power of our sin nature has been broken through the resurrection of Christ. When we come to Christ in faith and are born again, in essence, we die with Him to our old way of life and just as He was resurrected, we are “raised” to a new life, to walk by the Spirit of God and no longer by our sin nature. The proof that you have died with Him is the fact that you are able to say no to your sin nature and say yes to obedience to God. How are you doing with your sin nature? Is it overcoming you or are you overcoming it? The second phrase in bold is “enduring”. What is the proof that you are enduring? According to II Timothy 2:10, the proof that you are enduring is seen in the fact that people are coming to the knowledge of salvation. Secondly, endurance is seen, according to Hebrews 12:12, through the fact that you are able to strengthen the faith of those who are already in the faith. The faithful believers are being transformed by God and they are reaching out to the people around them with the message of the Gospel. What about the unfaithful, what makes them different from the believers?

II. The unfaithful

These people are nothing like the believers, even though they may sit in the same seats as the believers, week in and week out in the church building. Instead of dying with Christ and enduring by investing the Gospel in the lives of others, they actually deny Christ. They may not necessarily deny Christ with their mouths, in fact, with their mouths they profess Him because they are in the church. They do deny Him by their actions. They have never died with Christ and therefore their sin nature has them enslaved to sin and they are not able to obey God. This is seen in two different passages; Titus 1:16 and Jude 1-4. According to these two passages, these people are in the church and with their mouths, they confess Christ as Lord. But, they also deny Him with their actions because they deny His power to overcome their sin nature. They do detestable things and they are disobedient. They are actually worthless in their actions. Their actions are not useful to themselves and definitely not useful to others. According to Jude, they try to turn the grace of God into lawlessness, claiming that the more that they sin the bigger they make grace look therefore, they make God look better when they sin. They deny the power of the resurrection of Christ. Not only do they deny Christ, they also do not believe Him and His Word. Martha would be an example here. She claimed to believe Christ yet when it came time to put their “faith” into practice, she showed that she was faithless. She did not believe that Jesus had the power to resurrect her brother then and there. There are definite limits to their belief. Here are some other things that they do to prove who they really are.

  • They argue over the wrong things. They do not deal with the heavy stuff and split hairs when it comes to the things that do not matter.
  • Their time is consumed with worldly and empty chatter. They talk all the time but not about genuine spiritual matters.
  • They do not run away from youthful lusts. They are actually led by those lusts.
  • They love to argue but about nothing.

Although these people are in the church and are exposed to genuine spiritual doctrine, it is not genuine to them. It does not impact their daily lives. It never moves to their hearts. They are fleshly minded when they join the church and it continues that way until they are born again (if they ever are). Is your faith real or are you denying Christ by your daily actions? Do you overcome your sin nature or are you overcome by your sin nature?

III. The results

If we are faithful and have died with Christ, then the results will be that we will live with Him day by day. What does it look like to live with Christ on a daily basis? In Philippians 1, Paul explains what it means to live with Christ. If you live, you preach Christ, in every circumstance of life. You see the opportunities as God opens the doors and you boldly proclaim Christ to all. Not only will we live with Him day by day, we will also reign with Christ on the earth during the 1,000 year reign. This is seen in Revelation 5:10 and Revelation 20:4-6 as well as Revelation 22:5.

Well my dear friend, do you live every day to preach Christ? Does you life match up to the message of the Gospel. Does your lifestyle affirm that the Gospel is working in you? Are you professing Christ with your mouth and your lifestyle? Are you one of the faithful in the church or are you one of the unfaithful, also in the church? May the Lord help us recognize who we are and work in our lives accordingly.

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4 comments on “The difference between the believers and nonbelievers in the church

  1. Pingback: Attitude toward the Word of God | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

  2. Pingback: Proof that you are preaching the Word | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

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