How to Remain Faithful to God in a Faithless World

Living out our faith boldly and faithfully is not always easy. Every day, we are confronted with a world that teaches lies and has no interest in the truth. We meet opposition - and often shy away from it. How do we remain faithful, continue to make disciples, and discern between true and false teachings in a world that’s drifting further from the truth?


Wednesday in the Word

Come with me as I walk through a passage of Scripture phrase by phrase, reviewing its context, interpreting, and offering an application. Some of us - including me - learn best by watching somebody else. That’s what I am inviting you to do today as I study through 2 Timothy 3:10-4:5:

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

2 Timothy is a letter from Paul to pastor Timothy, one of his disciples. Paul encourages him to stay faithful to the gospel even in light of the “last days” that are imminent and will be full of persecution. He continues to appeal to Timothy with this:

“You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.”

Timothy joined Paul’s ministry for a while. He has seen it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. He has heard Paul’s teachings on many occasions. He knows what he is about. He has experienced Paul’s faith and character - in good times and in tough times. Timothy was there when Paul endured suffering and persecution

Paul mentions three cities:

  • In Antioch: “The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:49-52
  • In Iconium: “At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, where they continued to preach the gospel.” Acts 14:1-7
  • In Lystra: “Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.” Acts 14:19-20

I don’t think any of us have endured that kind of persecution, but Paul warns us…

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

There are certainly many benefits to a life lived with and for Christ, including that we don’t have to be one of the people going around deceiving others and being deceived. Did you catch that? However, Jesus also warned us that this path is not always easy. 

Paul is essentially telling us, “Don’t be surprised when you are persecuted for your faith. Accept it! It’s going to happen.” That’s not very encouraging until we remember that Paul also said, “Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” (verse 11)

So what are we to do?

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

In other words: We don’t change a thing! We continue to live for Christ as we know how. We remain fully committed. We live according to God’s Word. 

Timothy was raised by a Christian mom and grandma (2 Timothy 1:5). They taught him how to live a godly life according to Scripture. From beginning to end, Paul urges Timothy in this letter to remain faithful to his Christian upbringing even in times of trial. 

Not all of us grew up in a Christian home, but I know some of you did. Have you remained faithful to what you’ve been taught early on in your life? For all of us: Are you living out the faith and righteous life described in Scripture? The Bible is our number one guide to a godly life - yes, even above Christian parents, who are flawed - because…

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

This should be a theme verse for Scripture Confident Living - and for all of our lives. The Bible is:

  • Inspired by God
  • Useful for teaching/ministry/preaching the gospel
  • Essential for rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness - sounds like disciple-making, parenting, mentoring, growing in our own faith
  • Able to equip us for every good work - WOW!

The Bible is powerful! Do you see it? It’s our guide to life. That’s the reason I am so passionate to have you pick up your Bible with confidence, understand it well, and live it out. 

What are those “good works” for which Paul wants Timothy to be equipped?

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

We stand before our God, our Savior, Jesus Christ. In humility and gratitude, we should fear not the world but Him who will one day judge everyone. Our devotion should have us eager to advance His Kingdom and lead others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. How wonderful that God allows us to be a part of His plan for the people He loves!

So let’s be ready to preach God’s Word, to explain the gospel, and to disciple one another with both correction and encouragement. This great task takes patience and instruction. We find all we need in the Word of God. So keep on studying, learning, and growing in your faith. Making disciples is not just for pastors like Timothy. This charge is for us all. I challenge you to be ready - no matter what - to make disciples wherever God leads.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
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It’s not always an easy task to speak the truth of God’s Word in a world that doesn’t want to hear it. I see Paul lead Timothy to two responses, an outward and an inward response:

Inwardly, we need to stick to the truth: Even many believers would rather focus on the “warm and fuzzy” parts of God’s message rather than complete, sound doctrine. They like to pick and choose. Ladies, let’s not do that. Allow God to be your Teacher, not the world. Don’t gather a little here and there to make up your own theology. Allow your beliefs and worldview to be fully shaped by Scripture. Truth is not defined by what feels good to us. Truth is absolute. Find it in the Bible!

Outwardly, we need to remain calm and collected in all situations - even when false teachers push our buttons. Endure the hardship that comes with sticking up for the truth of God’s Word. Continue to preach the gospel and minister to others.

You do your thing for the Lord - no matter what! Stick to the truth of the gospel, live out your faith, and remain loyal to God even in times of persecution. If at any point in this article you felt like saying, “I am not there yet. I don’t know how to preach the gospel, let alone disciple young believers. How do I find truth in Scripture to align my worldview with God’s Word?” Where does Paul tell us to find all we need to be equipped for Kingdom work? The Bible! 

Let the Bible Equip You for Every Good Work

It’s my desire to see you read the Bible with confidence and understanding, skilled to interpret and apply it - yes, even teach it and use it in disciple-making. It’s our instructional book for a godly life. If you need help to use it for all it’s worth, request your FREE digital copy of “10 Steps to Approaching the Bible with Confidence” to get you started.

Share with us below what God is challenging you to do after reading this passage. Is He laying on your heart to become a more thorough student of His Word and better understand your beliefs? Is His challenge for you to discern between true and false teachers in order to be fully focused on His truth? Is He calling you to share the gospel with someone specific or to step out in faith to disciple a young believer or challenge a friend to remain loyal to God’s instruction?

Praise God, He does not leave us alone in all of this! Through Scripture and the Holy Spirit, He continues to teach us to follow His instructions. All glory be to God!