Perilous is the present period in which we are living,
for these are the last days (2 Tim.3:1). God has graciously granted us
special instructions for this era, written by our apostle Paul in his
last days (2 Tim.4:6,7). We are called upon to suffer evil. The saints
will turn away from Paul, and will not tolerate sound teaching. This, of
course, is true of apostate, unbelieving Christendom, but it is not
written of them, but of the saints, those who turned to Paul before they
turned away from him.
So impressed was I with God's grace in this
administration that I tried to have fellowship with my calumniators and
adversaries, hoping thus to win them and help them. I did not realize that
this was not God's way in grace. I should have seen that, since He had
foretold their conduct so long ago, it is the fulfillment of His
intention and will glorify His grace in the future, rather than mine at
present. I disobeyed His charge to shun them (2 Tim.3:6), not seeing
that this is His way of being gracious to them, and will fulfill His
purpose for them.
Others, who wish to exemplify grace in these last days,
are similarly inclined. These I would counsel to consider Paul's epistles
to Timothy and Titus. In these dark days, when most of the saints harbor
much traditionary discordant teaching, it is difficult to have fellowship
only with those who are fully agreed as to doctrine. And, indeed, that is
not required, except in severe cases, which undermine the faith. But we
can confine our contacts to those not guilty of the moral lapse which
characterize the last days (2 Tim.3:1-5). These we should shun.
Moreover, we should shun such conduct ourselves.
As in Paul's day, there are many adversaries. But we do
not wrestle with blood and flesh, but recognize our real enemies in the
spirit sphere, and take Paul's advice to Timothy, and shun them, leaving
them in the hands of God. As this has been foretold, there is nothing else
that we can do. The best thing for them is for us to obey His Word. It is
a serious error to treat them with a false graciousness, as if we were
more loving than God.