For Deserting Christians! Pt. 2
Reading 2 Tim. 4 v 1-22 + Col. 4 v 14 + Philemon v 24.
Preached By Ken Humphries,
2. Demas And His Charge! 2 Tim. 4 v 10.
"For Demas hath forsaken me"
That’s an amazing charge in any man’s language! To be accused of forsaking ones post as a soldier brings deep shame not only on the soldier but also upon his whole regiment. To forsake a partner with whom we have entered into a marriage bond and violate those vows we entered into before a Holy God will eventually bring great damage, not only to the one who did the forsaking but the ones forsaken. To forsake a co-worker in the work of God is bad enough, but to forsake the Lord and Saviour we profess to love and serve can have far reaching consequences. For as the Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 6 v 7
"Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
Demas thought he was liberating himself by getting away from Paul and the work of God. But not so! He was not moving into greater freedom, rather he was moving into deeper bondage. He has been called, chosen and consecrated to this work by God; to leave it will mean paying a high price. He must reap what he sows, he will reap the same as he has sown, and he will reap much, much more than he has sown.
"Freedom and discipline have come to be regarded as mutually exclusive, when in fact freedom is not at all the opposite, but the final reward, of discipline. It is to be bought with a high price, not merely claimed. ... The [professional] skater and [race] horse are free to perform as they do only because they have been subjected to countless hours of gruelling work, rigidly prescribed, faithfully carried out. Men are free to soar into space because they have willingly confined themselves in a tiny capsule designed and produced by highly trained scientists and craftsmen, have meticulously followed instructions and submitted themselves to rules which others defined." Elisabeth Elliot, in ‘All That Was Ever Ours’
A. Look At The Context Of This Charge! 2 Tim. 4 v 6.
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand."
I think we would fully understand this is no idle charge from the Apostle. It is a charge made in the light of his own work and life for the Lord.
Lying in that maritime prison awaiting death, winter is coming and he is feeling the awful cold in that dungeon of a place. There is a deep sense of isolation, in v 16 of chapter 4 he will remind Timothy!
"At my first answer (defence) no man stood with me, but all men forsook me."
And do please take note dear Christian friend, the man or woman who will live for God sometimes has to plough a lonely furrow. Paul was in every sense in the extremities, and Demas had left when most needed. And Paul was making the charge in the light of his own approach to the call of God. 2 Tim. 4 v 7.
" I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the
Reflecting on his own life and service for the Lord since his conversation, the Apostle is reminding us that it was a life in which he breathed and lived every moment in faithful service to his master, it was a life in which no sacrifice was too great and no commitment too demanding.
Maybe Theodore Roosevelt had that verse in mind when he wrote,
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
Far better is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in a grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. End quote! (From a speech on the strenuous life, Hamilton club, Chicago, April 10,1899).
The Apostle has lived his remarkable life doing wonderful things in the power of God. That I believe is revealed for us in the English used, have fought, have finished, and have kept (like "has come" at the end of v 6) translate intensive perfect verbs, indicating complete action that has continuing results. He leaves this life without regret; he has no sense at all of unfulfillment or incompleteness. After the Lord had taken control of his life, he truly has lived to the fullest. Everything God had called him to do He had enabled him to do! He leaves no unfinished work, for which there can be no greater satisfaction and certainly no more glorious way to end the Christian life, than to know, as Paul did, that you have fully accomplished everything God called you to do.
That is precisely why he is encouraging Timothy to "fulfil your ministry"(v5).
Is it any wonder then, his charge against Demas is so striking?
"We have nothing to do with how much ability we've got, or how little, but with what we do with what we have. The man with great talent is apt to be puffed up, and the man with little [talent] to belittle the little. Poor fools! God gives it, much or little. "Our part is to be faithful," doing the level best with every bit and scrap. And we will be if Jesus' spirit controls." S.D. Gordon.
B. Look At The Contrast Of His Charge! v 11.
"Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me for the ministry."
"Watch where Jesus went. The one dominant note in his life was to do his Father's will. His is not the way of wisdom or of success, but the way of faithfulness." Oswald Chambers.
Paul contrasts Mark’s downfall with Demas’ desertion.
Mark was a young Christian who had failed; Demas was an older Christian who had fled! Mark, who was sometimes known as John Mark was a native of Jerusalem and as Acts 12 v 12 reveals for us, one of the first groups of new believers that would gather together for worship, did so at Mark’s house. It would appear Mark was showing signs of maturity and growth in the Christian life and it would seem, for that reason he was chosen to go with Paul and Barnabas on their very first missionary journey. As time went by, especially when they arrived at Perga in Pamphylia, for some unknown reason John Mark left them and went back to his home town of Jerusalem Acts 13 v 13.
That action of Mark’s upset Paul some, to the degree, some years later when Barnabas wanted to bring Mark on yet another missionary journey into Antioch, to give him further opportunity to prove himself, Paul would not allow it. The disagreement over that decision was so severe; Paul and Barnabas split up and went their separate ways. You see Paul had no stomach for those who were lazy, cowardly, or lacking in commitment. He would not easily accept those who were unwilling to shoulder the burden or share the load and who would take off at the first sign of trouble. He was not therefore keen to have Mark with him on that second trip. Obviously though, he has heard good reports of Mark as he accompanied Barnabas and has decided he would love to have Mark’s company and in that new understanding of this young man he contrasts Demas, the older worker who, it would seem has just taken off out of love for this present world.
Now, there was a worldliness of some kind that gripped Demas, causing Paul to make this very powerful statement, "Demas hath forsaken me."
Was John Bunyan right after all in Pilgrim’s Progress in believing the problem Demas had was money. You remember the incident of the silver mine. Of course this spirit manifests itself in many ways. Sometimes it’s as Bunyan suggests (a) possessions—a lust to get a policy of grab. Many an earnest believer, beginning to get rich, has been spiritually ruined in this way. Money in itself is not wrong—many wealthy people have been so very generous and godly even with all their wealth. But the love of money for the sake of having it is wrong and is "the root of all evil." As believers we must keep our guard up in this area. (b) Pleasure, pride, and even this present life can draw us away and give us a warped view of God’s call and service as well. Which leads to.
C. Look At The Content Of The Charge! v 10. "For Demas hath forsaken me."
Is this Paul feeling sorry for himself because he is languishing in a lower dungeon where the prisoner has to be let down by a rope and fed like an animal? No light, no heat, no fellowship and lying on a stone or earthen floor. Is it that the rest have been released and each gone their separate ways, Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus has gone to Dalmatia, and Demas has gone to Thessalonica, Tychicus had been sent to Ephesus, only Luke remains! Is Paul focusing in on Demas because he feels his decision to go to Thessalonica has a worldly connotation about it. Is this Paul feeling he deserves better of those who claim to be followers of the Lord and his fellow servants and fellow sufferers? Does he feel, poor me! I, and I only am left, has he adopted an Elijah like complex, is he feeling hard done by? I think not, I believe Paul has a somewhat different attitude to his service for the Lord. "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain" (Phil.1 v 21).
Paul is deeply concerned that Demas is making the wrong decision for the wrong reason. He is concerned that Demas, who has been called of God and established in the service of his master in that particular place, is about to make a major mistake. You see, when danger or pressure build up on you in your place and calling for God, when circumstances begin to threaten, it becomes very easy to up and run somewhere else, hoping it will be better and easier there. And that beloved is the grave error many a dear Christian makes. Because things are not as bright and light as they would like them to be, they move their church attendance to somewhere that might suit them better in the hope they will feel better about themselves and enjoy the services. But dear folks, can I say, it seldom works out that way. If God has placed you into an assembly and a work for him, be careful about throwing that work up simply because its not what your partner or you like, because the end result, and I have seen it and been involved in it so very often, is disaster!
"Most of the skyscrapers in New York City were built by Indians! It's true! The Mohawk Indians are native to New York State. They are famed for their catlike ability to scamper across girders. They are totally indifferent to heights. It seems to be a genetic trait. A writer spoke of it in 1714. In 1886 the Mohawk Indians built the bridge that spans the Saint Lawrence River. They were the riveters on the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Centre. Some people are uncomfortable in high places, but the Mohawk Indians seem right at home. Spiritual heights are uncomfortable for some. They want to live in the lowlands of life, but Christ keeps calling us to higher ground." Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows.
Paul had a deep seated desire that those who served with him would walk on higher ground, be a fearless sanctified band of people for the Lord bringing glory to His holy name! That beloved is my desire for you all here!
May desertion never be laid to your charge for any reason under the sun!