Getting Good Counsel (2 Timothy 3)
Getting Good Counsel Introduction
Today, we continue in our message series “Need Direction?” Life is a journey. Life begins at birth and continues until our time on earth is finished. On the journey of life, we must decide what paths to take in life. What path we take in life will determine what we accomplish in this life and where we’ll end up in the next. On the journey of life, there are a lot of forks in the road. Places where we must decide whether to turn to the right or the left.
Sometimes, we know that we are at a big decision point in life. At other times, a series of seemingly small decisions can lead to a huge life change. The decisions we make in life can have eternal consequences, both for us and for others around us. In this series, we want to learn how to make the decisions that God wants us to make.
How do people make decisions? Oftentimes, people make decisions based on their feelings and emotions. They make decisions based on what they want to do. At other times, people make decisions based on what other people are doing. Following the crowd seems like a safe way to make decisions. Sometimes, people make decisions based on what an influential person has said or written. However, these ways of making decisions will often lead you astray, because emotions, the crowd or an influential person may not help you choose the right path.
Today, my message is entitled “Getting Good Counsel.” If you look at my title, you will realize that if there is good counsel, there also must be bad counsel. In today’s world, there is a lot more bad counsel readily available than good counsel. Everything you see on television or read on the internet is not true or good counsel.
Proverbs 15:22 (NIV) Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
You will not be able to carry out God’s plans for your live without good counsel. This wisdom from Proverbs speaks of success coming from having many advisers or counselors. When you have many counselors, you can weigh the various counsel and then make your decision with God’s help.
Today, we’re going to learn how to identify both good and bad counsel. God wants us to grow in discernment, so that we do not follow bad counsel and miss what God has for us in the journey of life. Where does bad counsel come from? It comes from a bad counselor. So, we must learn not to listen to certain types of people or certain sources of counsel that is not godly. Today, we’re going to study the apostle Paul’s counsel to Timothy to learn more about getting good counsel.
Consider the counselor’s character
This morning, when I speak of a counselor, I am not primarily referring to some type of professional counselor. I am referring to anyone from whom you make seek counsel. This counselor could be a member of your family, a relative, someone in the church, a friend or a co-worker. In order to get good counsel, we must consider the counselor’s character.
Listen to a godly counselor
2 Timothy 3:10 (NIV) You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,
Paul had just been talking about false teachers, who could not be trusted. He says, in contrast, you, Timothy, know my teaching and my way of life. You know my faith, patience and love. In other words, you know me and you know that I am a godly counselor, a committed follower of Jesus Christ. When you’re facing important decisions in life, it is imperative to listen to a godly counselor. Someone who is a committed believer in Jesus Christ.
Listen to a suffering counselor
2 Timothy 3:11-12 (NIV) persecutions, sufferings … 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,
Paul goes on to explain to Timothy that not only was he to be listened to because of his godly character and teaching, but also because of what he had suffered through persecution. Everyone who seeks to live a godly life will be persecuted and suffer in one way or another. Those who keep on serving the Lord despite suffering and persecution are worth listening to. Those counselors whose extravagant lifestyle indicates they have no suffering are not to be listened to.
Listen to counselors you know, not imposters
2 Timothy 3:13-14 (NIV) while evil men 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,
There are imposters, bad counselors, who claim to be something they are not. They are the ones who deceive gullible people who don’t consider their character. Notice the last phrase in this verse “you know those from whom you learned it.” Paul is saying again, Timothy, you know me, you know my character, you know my life, you know I am not an imposter. You can trust my counsel, for we know each other. We must consider the counselor’s character.
When you seek someone’s counsel or advice for your life, make sure you know something about their character. To know their character, you’ve got to know them. You have to have had conversations with them, prayed with them, eaten with them. You can’t get to know someone by watching them on television or seeing them speak in a huge auditorium.
At Life Church, you can get to know other committed believers on a first-hand basis. It was one of the many advantages of a smaller church. Get involved in a Life Group. You’ll get to know others with godly character who can give good counsel that will give you success in life. Don’t try to make major decisions without the counsel of other believers. Another believer can be led by the Spirit to give you insight into your situation. When you get some counsel from someone else, what must you do?
Evaluate the counsel by God’s Word
2 Timothy 3:15 (NIV) and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Timothy’s mother was a believer, most likely coming to faith through the ministry of Paul. She and her mother, Timothy’s grandmother, taught him the Scripture from little on. God’s Word can make you wise, first and foremost to receive salvation. But also, to judge or discern teaching, advice or counsel that you may receive from others. Wherever, you may receive instruction or counsel from, you must evaluate it against the principles of God’s Word. Even if an angel were to speak to you, you must test it against the Bible, for evil often disguises itself as being from God. Counsel that is in keeping with God’s Word should be received.
Receive scriptural counsel
2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
All of God’s Word is useful for our lives. In the same way scriptural counsel is useful as well. Good counsel, based on the Scripture, can teach, rebuke, correct and train us. How many like to be rebuked and corrected? The Bible says that a wise person embraces rebukes and corrections, for they bring about positive change in our lives. Be grateful for those with the courage to bring godly counsel into your life, even if some of it is correction or training. The purpose of counsel is to …
Be equipped with biblical counsel
2 Timothy 3:17 (NIV) so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Word of God is to equip you to do the good work that God created you to do. In order to do that good work, you’ve got to make wise decisions. Good counsel, based on God’s Word, will aid in equipping you for fulfill your purpose in life and make the right decisions.
I trust you are beginning to see the importance of the person who gives you counsel knowing God’s Word. And the importance of you knowing God’s Word, so that you can evaluate the counsel that you receive. The Bible is the gold standard for guidance. Read and study it every day. Who is going to give you the best counsel? Another believer who daily reads and studies their Bible and knows you. Be very careful with receiving counsel or advice on important decisions from unbelievers or from believers who are not walking close to God. All counsel that you receive should be filtered, not only by God’s Word, but through prayer. Asking God through His Holy Spirit to help you make decisions in keeping with God’s will. Finally, we must …
Beware of ungodly counselors
Paul has already warned Timothy about false teachers in his letter, and now he returns again to instruct Timothy what kind of people he must be on his guard against. What are the characteristics of an ungodly counselor?
Ungodly counselors twist God’s Word
2 Timothy 4:3a (NIV) For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
Sound doctrine is the accurate and Spirit-inspiring teaching and understanding of God’s Word. Sound doctrine encompasses the whole counsel of Scripture. It does not over-emphasize one aspect of Scripture and minimize another. Sound doctrine does not relegate whole sections of Scripture to history that hold no direct application to our lives. Ungodly counselors do not deny the Bible, they use the Bible, but in a twisted way, a way that is not sound doctrine. They take verses and passages out of context. They deny that the supernatural power and gifts of God are available today. They also …
Ungodly counselors entertain people
2 Timothy 4:3b (NIV) 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.
The ungodly counselors or teachers, tell people what they want to hear. These ungodly counselors use parts of God’s Word to entertain people. And many people follow these false teachers and ungodly counselors. If a counselor or teacher only tells you what you want to hear, if they only entertain you, they are ungodly. Why? Because a godly counselor, a godly teacher will teach, train, rebuke and correct you, using the whole counsel of God’s Word. A wise person discerns the ways of ungodly counselors.
Ungodly counselors teach myths
2 Timothy 4:4 (NIV) They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
Unfortunately, these types of ungodly counselors, will turn your hearts away from the truth of God’s Word and get you to believe myths and stories that are not from God. An ungodly counselor can be someone you know personally or he can be a well-known teacher or preacher. People believe all kinds of myths that are not in the Bible. Why? Because they’ve listened to ungodly counsel and not fact-checked it with God’s Word. And what is the result? The result is that people make bad decisions based on bad counsel and get off track on God’s plan for their lives. The Bible tells us that these kinds of ungodly counselors will increase in the last days.
2 Timothy 3:4-5 (NIV) lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
These types of counselors will love pleasure more than God. Life for them is all about pleasing themselves. Notice that they have a form of godliness. They claim to be Christians, they claim to use the Bible, but they deny the true power of God. We are to have nothing to do with such kind of people. Don’t listen to their counsel.
Why are so many people led astray by ungodly counselors? Here are some reasons. Ungodly counselors are often very likable people. They are usually very influential, in your life or perhaps in a larger arena. They often have great charisma. They say things that people like to hear. Ungodly counselors mix truth and falsehood together, they are very deceptive. They deceive themselves, even as they deceive others. If you’re not sure about the teaching of someone, get counsel from someone you know who is godly is the church. Beware of ungodly counselors.
Today, we’ve looked at the importance of getting good or godly counsel when making decisions. Consider the character of the counselor. You aren’t likely to get godly counsel from an ungodly counselor. Both the counsel and counselor should be evaluated by the standard of God’s Word. Be prepared to receive both encouraging and corrective counsel. Good counsel will equip you to make good decisions and keep you in the center of God’s will. God will help you to receive the good counsel that you need.