The Lord's Servant

A Heart Transformed By The Gospel Leads To An Honorable Christian Life

George Wright
Apr 18, 2021    40m
To live an honorable Christian life, we must let our hearts be transformed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From that transformation, good spiritual fruit will flow to the people around us and can be used for God's glory. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:01 I remind you to fan into flame, the gift of God. For God, gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control. Share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling. Be ready in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finish strong.

George Wright: 00:56 Well this morning, as we continue in worship and turn our attention to the Word of God, we are approaching a transition here in Second Timothy. If you've been with us over the last weeks, we've been walking through Second Timothy. If you're new to Shandon, or perhaps joining us even online for the first time, we are walking through a study of the Book of Second Timothy in the New Testament. I want to encourage you to turn there right now, we're going to jump right in.
Second Timothy chapter 2, and I'll begin in verse 20 today. And the reason why I say we're approaching a transition, is because we are coming to the end of chapter 2, which represents the middle of this letter, and what we see today and what we'll see in the weeks ahead, is the Apostle Paul, after a lot of encouragement, a lot of edification, a lot of even challenge for Timothy, he's going to move towards this theme of Timothy, stay in the game, fight the good fight, finish the race. Timothy, let me show you an example of how this plays out. For the Apostle Paul knows he's near the end of his life, and he knows he's near the end of his race. And so he is encouraging and imploring Timothy, this young man that he loves, that he has been mentoring in the faith. Timothy stand firm, lead your church to stand firm, be a picture of faithfulness, for there are challenges ahead, and there are struggles still to come. Timothy, the foundation you stand upon when you stand upon the foundation of Jesus Christ is rock solid, stay the course.

George Wright: 02:43 That's where we're going here today, that's where we're going here over the next few weeks. And I would like to invite you, I know you were just standing to sing with us, but I'd like to invite you back up on your feet to stand with me as I read from the Word of God. That we all can be reminded, whether online in this room, that when we turn our attention to the Word of God, we are standing on the foundation for the people of God. The Word of God is our foundation. The Word of God is what God tells us is right, and good, and true. The Word of God is what we need to hear.
George Wright: 03:19 So let's turn our attention to God's Word verse 20 of Second Timothy 2, it says this, "Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work." As we consider the Word of God here together, let's pray yet again this morning, that God would speak into our lives, that God would have his way among us, and that we truly would see with spiritual eyes, what God desires for us to see here today.

George Wright: 04:11 Let's pray together, Father, we are thankful, thankful for this opportunity to turn our attention to your word. And I pray, Lord God, that your word would truly capture our attention. We bring so many thoughts into this space today, so many challenges that are being faced, so many distractions fighting for our attention, so much noise competing for our ears and our heart. Lord God, I pray that in these moments we share in your word, this truly would be sacred space in our lives, and that you would speak what we need to hear. Use this time for your glory. It's in Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. You may be seated. Thank you for standing.

George Wright: 05:07 Our oldest daughter, McKenna, will turn 17 years old this summer. And I was thinking about this week shortly after we found out that that Megan was pregnant with our first child, this is now 17 years ago, we made a very significant transition. We were out in Dallas Fort Worth where I was attending seminary, and we were moving to Atlanta where I was going to go on staff for really the first time in full-time ministry with my dad at his church, I was going to be an associate pastor there. And so when we moved to Atlanta, knowing that Megan was early in her pregnancy, we had a lot of decisions that had to be made. I mean, this was our first baby, this is our first child, and so you're, you're navigating all the unknown. But one of the things that stability, as anyone who's walked through pregnancy knows, is having a good doctor guiding you through that pregnancy.

George Wright: 06:05 And so landing in Atlanta, very quickly, the highest priority on Megan's list was finding a good OB GYN that could walk with her through this new experience of pregnancy and then delivery. And so she was asking around, people we trust, who do you go to? Who's the best around? What is all this going to be like? And so we had the opportunity to talk with a family friend in Atlanta who also was a doctor, and Megan asked him, so who do you recommend? He said, well, let me ask you a question first, do you want a Christian doctor? Or do you want the best doctor? We thought, well, hadn't thought about that before, I didn't know that was where we were going, I'd kind of like to have both. But quite honestly, if I've got to choose, you're talking about my bride, you're talking about my first child here, you're talking about things that are incredibly important as it relates to health and care, I want the best doctor.

George Wright: 07:08 So sure enough, he partnered us up with the opportunity to connect with a doctor who was a phenomenal doctor, who actually went on to deliver all four of our kids. But I can tell you from time to time, his language was a little salty, and he was very clear that he was not a follower of Jesus. He kind of had a good time joking with me about that as a young pastor, but great doctor. It mattered greatly to us that he was really good at his job. You know, there are some areas of life, there are some professions in life, where many times we really care more about competency than we care about character. I can assure you every time I get on an airplane, I would love for the pilot to be a man of faith, but more importantly, I want the pilot to know how to take off, fly, and land a plane. I want him to be good at this job, and so sometimes we separate competency and character.

George Wright: 08:14 But where are we going today in this scripture in Second Timothy, and where the Word of God takes us over and over again, this is so important, is for the Christian life, there cannot be a separation between character and competency. In fact, according to the Word of God, for the one who is a follower of Jesus, it is character that actually matters over and above competency. Yes, it's important that we use our gifts, yes, it's important that we work our hardest, yes, it's important that we do everything as unto the Lord, but what matters most to God is what's behind the scenes. What's taking place behind the curtain of our life, the matters of the heart.

George Wright: 09:02 Character is of the utmost importance in the life of one who is a follower of Jesus, and the Apostle Paul is showing us here in these verses, an honorable Christian life flows out of an honorable heart that has been transformed by the power of the gospel. For here in Second Timothy 2, Paul says in this passage, "Honorable vessels are used by God for honorable purposes." Honorable vessels are used for honorable purposes. It's interesting here, Paul gives an example to Timothy about a great house, and he's just bringing something to mind. Timothy, think about someone who has a very prominent household. And in that household, they're going to have some vessels of honorable use, of gold and silver. The things that you bring out for a nice banquet or a wedding celebration, the things that you bring out when a guest of honor is joining you for a meal, you want to bring out your best, you want to serve that meal on those honorable vessels.

George Wright: 10:17 But at the same time, in a great house, there's going to be some vessels for dishonorable use. Remember, the Bible was written before the days of indoor plumbing, I don't know if you realize that, but just to give you a historical lesson, there was no indoor plumbing at the time, and so there was some vessels necessary in a household that would be used for dishonorable things. Before the days of a garbage disposal, everything needed to be put in a vessel and removed from the house, before the days of a toilet, everything needed to be put in a vessel and removed from the house, those were dishonorable vessels. They were not the expensive, nice silver and gold, they were wood and clay. And so Paul is bringing this to Timothy's attention, and he's communicating to Timothy, Timothy, this great house that I'm talking about in this illustration, it actually represents the church.

George Wright: 11:12 And in the church, there are some vessels of honorable use, there are honorable vessels used for honorable purposes. There are those who are surrendered and devoted to Christ, there are those who are seeking to live for the glory of God. But you also will find in every church, not just here, in every church, there are some dishonorable vessels, they might sometimes kind of act like a Christian or might put on their Sunday best, but then the other six days of the week, they live a very different way, their heart has not been surrendered to the Lord, their heart has not been devoted to the things of the Lord. Honorable and dishonorable.

George Wright: 11:57 And certainly we all could conclude that you would not throw a feast at a great house and serve a fine meal on a toilet seat. No, you would use the honorable vessel, for the honorable purpose. But the good news is, according to what we see here in the scripture, a dishonorable vessel can become an honorable vessel, it's an amazing thing to consider. Second Timothy 2 verse 21, let me read it again, "Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work." So this leads us to a very important question, if a dishonorable vessel can become an honorable vessel, how does that happen? What needs to take place for a life to be cleaned? If the dishonorable vessel must cleanse itself of what is this honorable to become an honorable vessel set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for good work, how in the world does this happen? Because obviously the Apostle Paul is not just talking about church attendance, or are gathering for a worship service. No, he says in the great house, there's honorable vessels and dishonorable vessels. Whenever there's a church service, there's honorable vessels and dishonorable vessels.

George Wright: 13:30 It's more than that, that Paul's talking about. So what does it mean to be honorable vessel? How can a life become cleansed in such a way that it moves from being dishonorable to honorable in the sight of God? Well, let me turn real quickly with you to Ephesians chapter 2. You can keep your spot in Second Timothy, we'll come right back to Second Timothy. Again, we're going to make it through the end of chapter 2 today, but turn over to Ephesians 2 real quick, back to the left if you're turning in an old school Bible with pages, back to the left. If you're looking at the Bible app, just scroll up and hit Ephesians 2, it will get there quick, and let's look at verses 8 through 10. Verses that truly are foundational to a right understanding of the message of the gospel. What does it mean for a life to be cleansed and transformed by the power of God? Ephesians 2 gives us great insight, look at verse 8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. or we are his workmanship, verse 10, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

George Wright: 14:57 Again, this is gospel foundation 101, the word of God is saying, acknowledging our need for a Savior, and receiving the gift that the Savior alone can provide, his death on the cross, his resurrection from the grave, acknowledging our need for the Savior and receiving the gift of the Savior, is a gift of grace. It's not what we deserve, it's what has been freely given. And it cleanses us, it cleanses us from our sin. And it sets us on a path of being used by God for good works, verse 10, for good works, that point to his glory. It is the saving grace of Jesus Christ that invites a life to be transformed, and cleanses that life from the inside out, that that life may be used for what is honorable in the sight of God.

George Wright: 16:11 So we return now to Second Timothy, and we see here, verse 21, "If what is dishonorable is cleansed, it can become honorable." So what does it look like then, when a life truly has received the gift of Jesus Christ, when a life truly has been forgiven of sin, when a life truly has been covered in the grace of God, "By grace, you have been saved through faith, not as a result of your works, that the man may boast." what does that look like? How does that play out? Well, that's where the scripture begins to take us, and this is a tremendous blessing because this lays out for us, a description of what a life of honorable use looks like, not only in the sight of God, but in the sight of others. And the Apostle Paul has taken Timothy on this little journey. And he's going to say, Timothy, there's things that you need to flee, if you are going to be an honorable vessel used by God, and there's things you need to pursue, if you're going to be an honorable vessel used by God.

George Wright: 17:27 Flee and pursue, flee and pursue, this theme shows up throughout the writings of the New Testament, throughout the writings of the Apostle Paul, there's certain things that an honorable vessel must flee, and there's certain things that an honorable vessel must pursue. Look at the scripture, let's see what they are. Verse 22, "So flee youthful passions." Flee youthful passions, we'll stop there just for a moment, because here we see there's something that we are told to flee, to be a vessel for honorable use, where to flee youthful passions. What does this mean? One of the commentaries that I use as I'm studying for a message is The Preaching of the Word Commentary Series, I really love this commentary series. And so I turned to The Preaching of the Word Commentary Series this week on Second Timothy 2, and it listed three things that are youthful passions. Three things that must be considered as youthful passions, that the honorable vessel, the one who's growing in Christlikeness, the one who is seeking the live for the glory of God, must flee. What are the three things?

George Wright: 18:45 Well, number one was impatience. I wish that wasn't there, impatience. A youthful passion often leads to impatience, where we want what we want, and we want it now. And certainly we live in a culture more and more that feeds the monster of impatience inside our hearts and our minds, because really everything in our culture is trying to get us more access to more things more quickly, where everything's at our fingertips. But the challenge in the Christian life, is that most of the time, the most significant growth that happens and the most significant change that takes place in a life, takes place over time. It's why the prophet Isaiah says, "They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength." There is an importance in waiting on the Lord. I know we want what we want right now, just like a two year old screaming and throwing a temper tantrum when they don't get a lollipop, but that's youthful passion, and we must flee. And we must recognize that patience is a virtue near and dear to the heart of God, God is patient with us, and he calls his people to be patient in the midst of the process of what would be called sanctification, or growth, to become more like Christ. In fact, I would say the greatest way to evaluate growth in our life is not day to day, week to week, but it's really year to year. What is your life like this year compared to two years ago, are you growing in Christ? Patience is necessary to grow, to become more like Christ.

George Wright: 20:37 The second thing the commentary listed though, I found this very interesting, was the word harshness. Flee the youthful passion of harshness. What happens when a little kid doesn't get their way? They often, right, they often throw a temper tantrum, they often my punch someone who took something from theirs, they often might throw themselves down on the ground and scream and cry and say mean things. This is not to be the way of one who is growing to become like Christ. One who is growing to become like Christ as an honorable vessel, must flee from the harshness that so often leaves a wake of pain in its path. You know, there's a wrong way to be right about something, we saw a lot of this in 2020. There's a wrong way to be right about something, harshness is not to be the way of the people of God at all, we're to flee that youthful passion and become more like Christ.

George Wright: 21:51 Thirdly, the commentary listed the word contentiousness, the love of a fight, the desire to win no matter what the cost or how much pain it causes. And certainly we are supposed to fight for what matters, we're going to talk about that in just a few moments in this text. But are we constantly looking for a fight? Are we constantly digging in our heels to be right, no matter what the cost? That's a contentious spirits, that is not to be evident in the follower of Jesus.

George Wright: 22:30 We're to flee youthful passions, but instead then we are told to pursue, verse 22, "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." Now, this really is foundational to what it means to be a follower of Jesus, these qualities listed here. Paul says pursue righteousness. What does that mean? That means to pursue what rightly honors God. It's putting the glory of God ahead of the glory of self, and doing what is right in the sight of God in accordance with his word, that's pursuing righteousness.

George Wright: 23:13 Then he says, pursue faith. Well, faith very simply can be defined, belief combined with trust. It's not enough just to believe something, it's to trust that it really is true by allowing it to impact the way that we live. It's not enough just to have some head knowledge, that head knowledge must translate into the action of our life, that's where true faith is demonstrated. We are to pursue faith, and step out on faith, as God leads.
George Wright: 23:47 Thirdly, pursue love. If you know anything about the Christian faith at all, if you know anything about the scripture at all, you know that love is to be the defining characteristic of a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus says in John 13, "They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.." The Apostle Paul says in First Corinthians 13, "If I have all these things, all this knowledge, and all this faith, and all these gifts, if I have all these things, and I do not have love, I have nothing. And so we're told to pursue love, and to pursue peace.

George Wright: 24:32 Guy, if there's anything that we need to be reminded of in the culture we live in today, this call for the church of Jesus Christ to be a people that pursue peace is so incredibly important. Romans 12, the Apostle Paul says it this way, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." The way this really can be translated is, do everything in your power to pursue peace. This isn't a suggestion like, hey, if you get around to it, or if it is possible and you've got some time and energy pursue this. No, no, no, it's do everything in your power to pursue peace with others. Certainly you can't control how they respond, certainly you can't control how other people treat you, but you can control how you respond, and you can control how you treat others. An honorable vessel in the sight of God is one who is diligent to pursue peace. Flee youthful passions, pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, for this is when the character of Christ is revealed in a life.

George Wright: 26:01 Let me just stop and ask you right here, before we go to verse 23, that's going to talk again about flea and pursue. What is it right now in your life, just you and the Word of God and the Lord, what is it right now in your life that you need to flee? Because there's probably something there. I don't know everything about your story, I certainly don't know everything that's going on behind the scenes. Many of you, I don't know anything about your story, but I know there is probably something in your life right now that you need to flee. Are you running towards it, or are you willing to run away? Let me ask you this, what is it that you need to pursue? Because my guess is that there are some things in your life that have perhaps have been neglected, just in the busyness of life, or just in this strange season that we continue to navigate, there's probably some things have kind of been pushed to the side that are important, and are significant, but they need now to be pursued. What is it in your life that you need to pursue, flee and pursue? This is how a life grows in Christ-like character, this is how a life is laid before the Lord as an honorable vessel, things to flee and things to pursue.

George Wright: 27:23 We see this again in verse 23, the scripture says this through the Apostle Paul, "Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. So, what are we being told here, this is so important in the life of the church, we are told we are to flee ignorant controversies, and then on the other hand pursue that which is true. Why is this so important in the church? I me, it kind of seems simple, flee ignorant controversies and pursue what is true. Well, please here this, in every church, not just here, in every church, there are people that are looking for a fight. And please hear this, don't miss this at all, there are fights that need to be fought, there are fights that are incredibly important. They are fights over the Word of God, and whether or not it's true. And if we ever walk away from the Word of God as a church, there better be a fight in this church. There are fights over how we can more effectively live out the mission, how we can truly leverage who we are to go to the world with the good news of the gospel. And if we ever get so distracted as a church that we're not living the mission, there better be a fight in this church. But there's a lot of fights, they're just ignorant controversies, all they do is breed quarrels, all they do is feed division, all they do is distract from what truly matters. They really are not grounded in the Word of God at all, in fact, they often leave the Word of God behind and move towards just what somebody wants. The scripture says, we are to flee ignorant controversies, and pursue the truth of God's Word, the call to his mission, or else the church will become completely ineffective and dishonorable. What do you need to flee? What do you need to pursue?

George Wright: 30:03 In the final three verses here, the Apostle Paul just makes this even more practical. As he writes to Timothy, he is basically saying to Timothy, I want you to see the power of what can happen when the Lord's servant is striving to live as an honorable vessel in the sight of God, growing in Christ-like character, pursuing what matters most, and then interacting with some who are actually living in a dishonorable way. What takes place? Look at verse 24 through the end of the chapter. Second Timothy 2:24, it says, The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome..." Listen to this, "...but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."

George Wright: 31:22 Now these verses are both tremendously sobering and tremendously hopeful. And so let's start with what is sobering, what is sobering about these verse? Paul is saying to Timothy, Timothy, I need to remind you that the way you live truly does matter. The way you live as a follower of Christ matters. And Timothy, you need to understand this, there are going to be those in the church who actually ignore the truth and they seek to use power and control to manipulate others so that they can get what they want. And these individuals who ignore the truth and seek to use power and control to manipulate others to get what they want in the church, they are described by the Word of God as being one who has been captured by the devil to do his will. This is in the church, that's not a description you want attached to your name, one who has been captured by the devil to do his will. And here's what often happens, they believe that they are right. They believe that what they are doing is the right thing, but they are spiritually blind, and the fruit of their life is only producing division and confusion, a dishonorable vessel.

George Wright: 33:00 So what do you do? Church, what do we do? The Word of God is so hopeful here, and such a gift to us even in the midst of this sobering warning, please do not miss this. Verses 25 and 26 are showing us that God is loving, and God is gracious, even toward those who have lost their way and are blinded by their sin. And when the people of God demonstrates the character of Christ, that's what these verses were talking about, Paul says to Timothy, Timothy, here's how you must conduct yourself as a follower of Jesus, even interacting with those who are trying to lead people away from the truth. When the followers of Christ, when the people of God, demonstrates the character of Christ, listen to what it does, this is right out of the Word of God. It offers an invitation to those who have abandoned a gospel perspective, to return to the throne of grace.

George Wright: 34:23 This is incredible, it's absolutely incredible what God's Word reveals. When the people of God live in such a way that demonstrates Christ-like character as an honorable vessel, it actually provides an invitation to those who away from the truth to return to the throne of grace. And here's the incredible good news, and we'll end chapter 2 with this, this means no matter how far you have wandered, this means no matter how entrenched you have become in your own way, this means no matter how much you think you are right and everyone else is wrong, no matter how often you have refused to listen up to this point, and no matter how much pain you have experienced or how much pain you have caused, please hear this, you are invited to return to the throne of grace. And you truly can be set free by the beautiful, redemptive power of the gospel that has been offered to you by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is perfectly loving, and perfectly patient, and perfectly merciful, and perfectly gracious, even to sinners like you and like me, this is the power of the gospel. You do not have to stand in the sight of God as a dishonorable vessel, the blood of Jesus Christ offers to cleanse us from our sin. So that that, which is dishonorable, can become honorable in the sight of God. So may we live in such a way that we reveal what is honorable, and we invite others to experience what is honorable, because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. What is the fruit of your life? Is it honorable? Is it dishonorable? Will you return to the throne of grace? For there's good news for all who do.

George Wright: 37:28 Let me pray for us as we close here this morning. Heavenly Father, I'm so very grateful for what you have laid before us in these first two chapters of Second Timothy, there is so much encouragement, there is so much edification, that lifts our spirits. But Lord, at the same time, there is so much challenge, and for many, there is much conviction. Lord, we thank you for what you do through your word, as you meet us where we are, and you invite us into something more, you meet us where we are and invite us to something greater. Lord, I pray that we, who are followers of Jesus, would grow in Christ-like character, would grow in what matters most, as we seek to follow you and demonstrate what is honorable to those around us.

George Wright: 38:34 Lord, I pray specifically now, as I close this message, for those who are joining into this message, either here in person or online today, that recognize their life right now is more like a dishonorable vessel than an honorable vessel. Lord, I just pray that they would see very clearly the invitation that is your grace and your mercy to return to the throne of grace. Lord, I realize, we all can be blinded at times, we all can lose sight of what matters most. I pray, Lord God, for those who realize today, that they have been blinded. Lord, would you give them the faith to come to their senses, as the scripture says, come to their senses and to return to the incredible grace and mercy Jesus Christ provides.

George Wright: 39:44 Lord, for those who have never experienced your grace and mercy in their life in a personal way, I pray that today would be the day where they would say, just in their own heart, Jesus, I'm ready, I'm ready to follow you. I need you, I need the Savior, I need forgiveness, I need a new story, I need a new journey, I want to be an honorable vessel in the sight of God. So, Jesus, I am asking you to be my Savior and my Lord, to forgive me of my sin.

George Wright: 40:17 Oh Lord, how grateful we are for the gift of salvation, how grateful we are that you draw near to those who honestly seek you. And Lord, as we go today, we pray that you would guide us to walk in spirit and in truth, to live in such a way that the fruit of our lives points to the gift you have given us, the fruit of our lives would be honorable in the sight of God, as we seek to live in response and live in worship to that which we have received through Jesus Christ our Lord. We thank you for this time. It's in Jesus' name. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206