Worship Times

Sundays    10:30 a.m.
                    4:00 p.m.

Today's Verse


A DEADLY DISEASE

by Mark Grant

When the words AIDS, SARS, or West Nile Virus are mentioned in the news today, they strike fear in some people because they can cause us to die. While these diseases can cause death, there are usually a very limited number of people who die from these diseases in the United States. There was a time, though, when a deadly disease could wipe out numerous people. In 1520, a Spaniard stepped off a Spanish galleon in Mexico and caused the deaths of thousands of people. The man was a soldier under the leadership of Panfilo de Narvaez, and he had smallpox. Although the soldier was unaware he had it, wherever he went the Mexican people were being exposed to a new disease. As a result, a smallpox epidemic ensued, causing many thousands of Mexican citizens to die.

One man is all it took to wreak havoc among the people. His contact with the unsuspecting Mexican people led to a horrific, agonizing scourge. The destructive effects of that disease spread from one person to another, infecting a large segment of the population.

It was the apostle Paul who compared the spread of a deadly disease to the spread of a spiritual sickness that sometimes strikes a congregation. It is the disease of false doctrine. “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:16-18;NIV). Note the way in which the spread of evil teachings is compared to “gangrene.” The word “gangrene” comes from the Greek word gaggraina, which Thayer defines as “a gangrene, a disease by which any part of the body suffering from inflammation becomes so corrupted that, unless a remedy be seasonably applied, the evil continually spreads, attacks other parts, and at last eats away the bones” (Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon; pg. 107). When a person is diagnosed with gangrene the immediate remedy is to cut away the affected area, or the patient’s very life will be in danger because of the rapid spread of this deadly disease. So, too, with false teaching and heresies that come into the church. The infecting of one often leads to the infecting of many. False teachers not only contaminate and destroy their own souls, they also affect others. Their evil teachings and consequently corrupt practices spread like a gangrene, whose hidden roots spread throughout the body and produce horrible results.

The infection often starts so innocently with those who wish to engage in godless chatter. Godless chatter is characterized by trying to make strong arguments, frequently using God’s name, but without any basis of truth. Opinions and arguments that divert from the word of God are confusing, useless, and will cause strife and division. These empty words will only go from bad to worse and “become more and more ungodly.” These discussions of non-biblical views will develop into more powerful and more dangerous errors and worse courses of conduct. False teachers love to cause strife and division by their meaningless quibbling over unimportant details and by spouting lies. Some distort the truth, some dilute it, some add to it, and some simply ignore it by saying that God’s truth no longer applies.

Having described the chatter of Hymenaeus and Philetus as gangrene, Paul specifically identifies one of the main points in their profane and false teaching saying, “that the resurrection is passed already, and overthrow the faith of some.” Paul had turned Hymenaeus over to Satan (1 Tim. 1:20), because his false teaching concerning the resurrection was destroying some people’s faith. No judgment concerning the eternal salvation of Hymenaeus was involved. He was merely excluded from the fellowship of the church (1 Tim 6:3-5).

It’s not unusual for a happy and well-adjusted congregation of Christians to be infected after just one person introduces godless chatter. Soon dissension is running rampant among people who had been eagerly working together, and the church finds itself spending more time on damage control than on ministry. Let us be on our guard brethren! Let us rightly divide (to cut straight) the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). Good teaching never promotes quarrels or foolish arguments (2 Tim. 2:16,23). Let us commit to teaching sound doctrine that accords with the glorious gospel, instead of indulging in vain argumentations that ruin rather than save the hearers (2 Tim. 2:14). Else, you may see your own congregation deteriorate and mortify before your very eyes from a deadly disease.