Fighting Words – II Timothy 2:14

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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Americans cherish the right we have to freedom of speech. But did you know there are limits to this freedom? When the police arrested a street preacher, he called them “racketeers” and “facists.” Subsequently, in 1942, the Supreme Court handed down the Chaplinsky Decision upholding the arrest. The court said that certain categories of speech fall outside the limits of constitutional protection: These include “the lewd, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or ‘fighting’ words…which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

The Apostle Paul sought to spare believers from experiences where their peace would be stolen through needless bickering and debates. Therefore, he told Timothy, “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers” (II Timothy 2:14). This in no way implies that Christians are not to speak out when very important truths are attacked. Paul told Timothy it was “a faithful saying” that Christ came “to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15), then he went on to specify that God “…will have all men to be saved…” (I Timothy 2:4). When false teachers were compromising the clarity of the Gospel of Grace, Paul emphatically told the saints not to listen to them but “let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). When Jews sought to place Gentile converts under the Mosaic Law, Paul said, “…to whom we gave… subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:5). When Peter withdrew from Gentile converts, therein implying they could not be saved, Paul “withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” (Galatians 2:11). However, Paul specified that there are discussions Christians should avoid. He tells Timothy to “shun profane and vain [empty] babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (II Timothy 2:16). When more heat than light is being shed on a subject, it will only lead to sinful words and attitudes. In fact, “their word will eat as doth a canker…[and can] overthrow the faith of some” (II Timothy 2:17-18). This is particularly true when fundamental doctrines of our faith are questioned, such as the proven resurrection of the dead. Such truths as these are the very “foundation of God” (II Timothy 2:19) for our faith.

Some are just looking for an argument, and others seek to destroy the faith of Christians. When this is apparent, just walk away.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."