“And, Let Every One That Nameth The Name Of Christ Depart From Iniquity.”—2Ti. 2:19
Timothy, unto whom this epistle was writ, was an evangelist, that is, inferior to apostles and extraordinary prophets, and above ordinary pastors and teachers. (2Ti 4:5; Eph 4:11) And he with the rest of those under his circumstances was to go with the apostles hither and thither, to be disposed of by them as they saw need, for the further edification of those who by the apostolical ministry were converted to the faith: and hence it is, that Titus was left at Crete, and that this Timothy was left at Ephesus. (1Ti 1:3) For they were to do a work for Christ in the world, which the apostles were to begin, and leave upon their hands to finish. Now when the apostles departed from places, and had left these evangelists in their stead, usually there did arise some bad spirits among those people, where these were left for the furtherance of the faith. This is manifest by both the epistles to Timothy, and also by that to Titus: wherefore Paul, upon whom these two evangelists waited for the fulfilling of their ministry, writeth unto them while they abode where he left them, concerning those turbulent spirits which they met with, and to teach them how yet further they ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. And to this purpose he gives them, severally, divers instructions, as the judicious reader may easily understand, by which he encourageth them to the prosecution of that service which for Christ they had to do for those people where he had left them, and also instructeth them how to carry it towards their disturbers, which last he doth, not only doctrinally, but also by shewing them, by his example and practice, what he would have them do.
This done, he laboureth to comfort Timothy with the remembrance of the steadfastness of God's eternal decree of election, because grounded on his foreknowledge; saying, though Hymeneus and Philetus have erred from the faith, and, by their fall, have overthrown the faith of some, 'Yet the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.' Now lest this last hint should still encourage some to be remiss and carnally secure, and foolish, as I suppose this doctrine abused, had encouraged them to be before; therefore the apostle immediately conjoineth to it this exhortation; 'And, let every one that nameth; the name of Christ depart from iniquity.' Two truths strangely, but necessarily joined together, because so apt to be severed by the children of men; for many, under the pretence of their being elected, neglect to pursue holiness; and many of them again that pretend to be for holiness, quite exclude the doctrine and motives that election gives thereto. Wherefore the apostle, that he might set men's notions as to these things right, he joins these two together, signifying thereby, that as electing love doth instate a man in the blessing of eternal life; so holiness is the path thereto; and, that he that refuseth to depart from iniquity shall be dammed; notwithstanding he may think himself secured from hell by the act of God's electing love. For election designeth men not only to eternal glory, but to holiness of life, a means, thereto. (Eph 1:4, 5) And the manner of this connection of truth is the more to be noted by us, because the apostle seems to conjoin them, in an holy heat of spirit, saying, 'The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.' And, 'let every one that shall but so much as name the name of Christ, depart from iniquity;' or, as who should say, God will be revenged upon them for all, or, notwithstanding, they appropriate unto themselves the benefits of election.
In the text we have,
FIRST, An exhortation.
SECOND, The extension of that exhortation.
The exhortation is, That men depart from iniquity. The extension of it is, to them, all of them, every one of them that name the name of Christ. 'And let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.'
In the exhortation there are several things to be taken notice of, because insinuated by the apostle. The first is, that iniquity is a very dangerous and hurtful thing, as to the souls of sinners in general; so to them that name the name of Christ.
First, Iniquity is a very dangerous and hurtful thing to men in general; for it is that which did captivate the world at the beginning, and that made it a bond-slave to the devil. It has also done great hurt to mankind ever since. To instance a few things:
1. It is that which hath stupefied and besotted the powers of men's souls, and made them even next to a beast and brute in all matters supernatural heavenly. (2Pe 2:12) For as the beast minds nothing but his lusts and his belly, by nature, so man minds nothing but things earthly, sensual, and devilish, by reason of iniquity.
2. It has blinded and darkened the powers of the soul, so that it can neither see where it is, nor which is the way out of this besotted condition. (Eph 4:18)
3. It has hardened the heart against God, and against all admonition and counsel in the things of the gospel of Christ. (Ro 2:5)
4. It has alienated the will, the mind, and affections, from the choice of the things that should save it, and wrought them over to an hearty delight in those things that naturally tend to drown it in perdition and destruction. (Col 1:21)
5. It has made man odious in God's eyes, it has provoked the justice of God against him, and made him obnoxious to hell-fire. (Eze 16:5)
6. Yea, it so holds him, so binds him, so reserves him to this, that not he himself, nor yet all the angels of heaven, can deliver him from this deplorable condition. (Pr 5:22)
7. To say nothing of their pleasure and delight that it makes him take in that way to hell in which he walketh. (Isa 66:3; Pr 7:22, 23) Never went fat ox so gamesomely to the shambles, nor fool so merrily to the correction of the stocks, nor silly bird so wantonly to the hidden net, as iniquity makes men go down her steps to the pit of hell and damnation.
O it is amazing, it is astonishing to consider what hurt sin hath done to man, and into how many dangers it has brought him; but let these few hints at this time suffice as to this. I will now speak a word to the other particular, namely, Second, That as iniquity is dangerous and hurtful to the souls of men in general, so it is to them that name the name of Christ. As to the so and so naming of him, to that I shall speak by and by, but at this time take it thus: That religiously name his name. And I say iniquity is hurtful to them.
1. It plucks many a one of them from Christ and the religious profession of him. I have even seen, that men who have devoutly and religiously professed Jesus Christ, have been prevailed withal, by iniquity, to cast him and the profession of his name quite off, and to turn their backs upon him. 'Israel,' saith the prophet, 'hath cast off the thing that is good.' (Ho 8:3) But why? 'Of their silver and their gold have they made them idols.' The sin of idolatry threw their hearts from God; their love to that iniquity made them turn their backs upon him. Wherefore God complains, that of forwardness to their iniquity, and through the prevalence thereof, they had cast him behind their back. (Eze 23:35)
2. As it plucks many a professor from Christ, so it keeps many a one from an effectual closing with him. How many are there that religiously profess and make mention of the name of Christ, that yet of love to, and by the interest that iniquity hath in their affections, never close with him unto salvation, but are like to them, of whom you read in Paul to Timothy, that they are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2Ti 3:1-7)
3. And concerning those that have indeed come to him, and that have effectually closed with him, and that name his name to good purpose; yet how hath iniquity hurt and abused many of them.
(1.) It has prevailed with God to hide his face from them, a thing more bitter than death.
(2.) It has prevailed with God to chastise, and to afflict them sorely, a thing in which he taketh no pleasure. (La 3:33)
(3.) It has provoked God to give them over to the hand of the enemy, and to deliver them to the tormentors. (Jer 12:7; Mt 18:34)
(4.) It hath brought them to question their interest in Christ, and whether they ever had grace in their souls. (Ps 31:22)
(5.) And for those that have yet believed they were in his favour, this iniquity hath driven them to fear that God would cast them away, and take all his good things from them. (Psalm 51)
Yea, he that would know the hurt that iniquity hath done to them that name the name of Christ, let him consider the cries, the sighs, the tears, the bemoanings, the bewailings, the lamentations, the sorrows, the confessions, the repentings and griefs wherewith they have been attended, while they have complained that they have been put in the stocks, laid in the dungeon, had their bones broken, suffered the terrors of God, been distressed almost to distraction, and have been fed with gravel, gall, wormwood, and with the water of astonishment, for days, yea, years together. (Job 13:27; Ps 6:6; Ps 31:9, 10; Ps 38:8; Ps 60:3; Psalm 88; Ps 116:3; Jer 8:14; Jer 23:15; Jer 31:18; La 3:4, 16; Eze 4:16; 2Co 12:21) By all which, and many more which might be mentioned, it appears that iniquity is a dangerous and hurtful thing.