Discerning Differences and Spirits

2 Timothy 3:1–9, Hebrews 12:11–15 (read online ⧉)

Every generation (so far) says of the one to follow has said at least one of the lists in 2 Timothy about the generation that follows. It’s not that there isn’t to it, yet it is not necessarily the same heart truth. Especially the transition from the last decade of the 20th Century to these first 2 decades of the 21st Century there is a cultural shift that is occurring simultaneously as, and even at a quicker rate than, the generational differences. This is an important concept to wrestle with. First, the generation and culture that follows are, in many respects, built upon the generation/culture that is complaining. Another way to say it, is instead of blaming them, look in the mirror and recognize our contribution. It is not that the list that gives is wrong, it’s just that often we attribute to the responses of something they aren’t actually doing because we don’t understand our differences. The differences between Western generations are similar to the foreignness of other nations.

While we compare generational culture to this list of Paul’s, Paul really isn’t talking about the wider culture. He’s talking about Christians in particular. Many of these phrases were used by the Protestants against the Roman Catholic at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, and some still parrot this today. Sadly, most of these same phrases can be used against Protestant Christianity and (perhaps, even especially) Evangelical Christianity. Hence the necessity to be very careful in how we apply these phrases, for the first people who should be tested by them are ourselves. Being committed to is often not even tried, because deep down we recognize that we need to be tested, and that is uncomfortable.

The author of Hebrews acknowledges that. and being disciplined is hard. When we test ourselves, it is the Spirit that disciplines us. And, just to be clear, we are susceptible here to the voices of the antichrists. They will try to tear us down. The builds up. Often the is the same, but the difference is that one wants to keep us down, and one wants to free us. The author of Hebrews speaks of the peaceful fruit that will result from the Holy Spirit doing the disciplining. The author of Hebrews then encourages our efforts to continue to pursue righteousness.

The author of Hebrews then tells us the consequences of not pursuing righteousness, lameness or dislocation. The implication that we are not able to do our Christian work. That is to be our goal, being fully (Holy Spirit) empowered followers of Christ.

1) How do you see Paul’s list tied to the concept of lameness/dislocation as noted by the author of Hebrews?

2) Have you ever been guilty of accusing another generation (before or after yours) of not understanding? What does that tell you about those that passed “culture” to you or the “culture” you passed on to others?

3) A Jesus Christ-centered commitment to “test” others is hard. Have you ever made such a commitment? If so, how have you broken it? If not, what is holding you back?