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“For Demas hath forsaken me …” (2 Timothy 4:10)

How must that have felt to this old warrior who had struggled and fought to establish this Gospel that he knew was the only answer to saving the world from Hell. He had fought with demons and deacons, priests and princes. He had endured beatings, mockery and the threat of prison and death for this cause. He could have been wealthy and powerful, one of the ruling class in Jerusalem, but he turned it all away because he had met the Nazarene on the road to Damascus.

Paul knew what was at stake – Heaven for those who accepted this new revolutionary doctrine, or Hell for those who did not. Jew and Gentile alike faced the stark reality of a judgment that he must have known the utter devastating reality of. While Peter was given the ministry to the Jews, he was handed the enormous task of the rest of the Gentile world. And with that commission was the understanding that salvation would come to the Jews through the Gentiles as they fulfilled their dispensation. He had to succeed; he could not stumble and fail. Too much was hanging in the balance.

And then Demas forsook him.

I don’t suppose Paul was a soft-spoken kind of guy. Maybe he was a little too tough on Demas, or maybe he was too intense for him. He had a sharply divided sense of right and wrong, and he did not mince words to comfort hurt feelings. Rather, he made his points clear and blazingly lucid.

“Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

In other words, tell them truth! Quit pussy-footing around. Do it in love, but stay true to the doctrine. Why?

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables.” (2Timothy 4:3,4)

I wonder if Paul self-examined himself first when Demas left. “Was I too hard on him? Did I not consider his feelings? Do I have a bad attitude?” All questions we ask of ourselves when a good friend abandons us.

But at some point, his prophetic spirit had to take back control and say no. Even if his attitude was not socially gracious, the truth is that we are engaged in an insanely ferocious war of eternity. The destiny for billions of souls is at stake.

True love, then, is not the creamy smooth gospel that most people find so alluring. It is the stark and sometimes sharp declaration of truth that cuts away the shrouds of death to liberate the soul to walk in true righteousness in the fear of God – a doctrine that is often not the favored choice of many.

Somebody has to take that stand. Paul did. Demas did not.

 

Brother Dale

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