John MacArthur, "An Honorable Vessel" Part 2.
Thirdly, and now we come to this morning's section, a discerning mind. If you are to be a vessel unto honor, God desires that you have a discerning mind. And this is familiar turf for those of us who have studied through 1 and 2 Timothy. He goes back to a very very important point which he has made repeatedly in these epistles. Verse 23, "But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations knowing that they produce fights." Pursue some things, he says in verse 22, righteousness, faithfulness, love and peace, but refuse some other things...refuse foolish and ignorant speculations. The word "refuse" means that avoid reject, having nothing to do with. And this is not a new message. He has been giving this message to Timothy all through 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy. And it let's me know that Timothy was really...really in a dangerous point in his life. The fact that the Apostle repeats this issue about staying away from false teaching so many times indicates that Timothy must have been flirting with that, that the temptation was to get involved in listening to the philosophers and religionists of the day and get your mind all filled with all of that unbiblical, anti-biblical stuff. And he's saying to him, keep your mind pure, stay away from that stuff, guard your mind, have a discerning mind.
I see so many people who start out affirming the Word of God, expose themselves to the garbage and the trash and the lies and the speculations of so-called theologians who in the name of academia attack the Word of God. And as a result of all of that, it undermines their confidence, undermines the strength of their faith, undermines their convictions, creates all kinds of doubts, the tragedy of over-exposure to the kind of thing that robs conviction and produces nothing but fights and arguments and quarrels, the mind is to be guarded.
Let me tell you a little about your brain in general, since I don't know your brain specifically. But your little three- pound brain that sits between your ears and only occupies about two percent of your body weight but uses up 25 percent of the oxygen supply in your blood just to keep it functioning, your little brain has ten billion cells, at least. Now some of those cells are nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, part of the nervous system. But by far, the majority of those ten billion cells between your ears are memory pockets. Those cells take in everything you experience. And you want to know something? It's all in there. Once it goes in there, it stays in there. It can become more difficult to recall because of non-use, or you could have an injury to some part of your brain or a disease that could erase that. But apart from some such disease and apart from misuse, sort of eliminating your ability to pull it back up out of its little pocket, your brain keeps everything...everything.
And all those ten billion cells are criss-crossed and networked by little tiny fibers. And those little tiny fibers send impulses back and forth from those cells that help you associate all of those little pieces of memory together to make up your whole thought pattern. Now your little memories are locked into those cells by coated proteins which store them. So just know this, whatever you put in there, my friends, is going to find a place and it's going to be networked into the association process in your thinking.
Now you need to protect your mind. Once stored, those little pieces of information become part of the networking of your thinking process. They remain permanently in your mind and mix in the association which can weaken your commitment to the truth which can suck the very strength out of your spiritual life, which create doubts in your mind about what you really believe or whether or not what you say you believe is genuinely true. In Philippians we have a good word, one that we ought to take heed to, Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren...Paul says...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report...that's six things...if there's any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things." There is no premium ever in the Bible placed on letting your mind be occupied with error. You must have a discerning mind. Your mind is a treasure house, not a dump.
Now if you go back in to 1 and 2 Timothy and just sort of...let me just pick out everything he has told Timothy to avoid, the list is very long because he's given this same kind of instruction repeatedly. Going all the way back to the first chapter of 1 Timothy and just hopping through as far as we've gone, specifically Paul has told Timothy and the rest of us to avoid strange doctrines, myths, endless genealogies, fruitless discussions on biblical assertions, worldly fables fit only for old women, different doctrine not agreeing with sound words, and doctrine conforming to godliness, controversial questions, disputes about words, worldly and empty chatter, opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge, battles over words, useless talk which spreads like gangrene. And now he adds foolish and ignorant speculations. The word "speculations," suzetetes means disputings, debates, questionings and arguments. The word "foolish" is the word moros from which we get moron. Dull, stupid, sluggish is its intent. The word "ignorant,"apaideutos means untrained, uninstructed, undisciplined, uneducated, senseless. Stay away from moronic senseless arguments, debates that attack the veracity of Scripture.
In Titus he will say the same thing to Titus in verse 9, "Shun foolish controversies, genealogies, strife, disputes about the law, they're unprofitable, they're worthless and a factious man, an argumentative man after the first and second warning, reject him and knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning being self-condemned." Don't waste your time. One or two warnings, you're gone, you're out. Don't expose yourself to ignorant, untrained, uninstructed, undisciplined men who spout senseless arguments against God's precious holy Word...all that does is produce quarrels and fights. You're not to be a fighter and a quarreler and a quibbler and a debater and an arguer.
Arguments with fools are foolish. Proverbs 18 says it so well, it's just so direct. Proverbs 18:2, "A fool does not delight in understanding but only revealing his own mind." Boy, is that true. A fool does not want understanding, he just wants to shoot off his own mind. And verse 6, "A fool's lips bring strife and his mouth calls for blows." You don't want to waste your time with a fool.
Now I'm not disagreeing with what Peter said in 1 Peter 3:15 when he said to be ready to give to any man who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. If a man comes to ask you, give him a reason for the hope that is in you. But if a man comes to debate you, after one and two admonitions against that man's heresy, don't waste your time. We're not called to debate, we're called to proclaim. We're not called to expose our minds to the lies of Satan, we're called to keep our minds set on the things of God. False teachers pursue debate. Those who are true servants of the Lord pursue harmony and peace. So keep your mind from such things. Guard your thoughts. Have a discerning mind. Be expert in God's Word. Master God's revelation. Proclaim it, don't debate it. And don't expose yourself to the lies.
It's so sad to see how many people who start out in the Word of God and become influenced by all the anti-biblical stuff that they hear from the philosophies of men, religious liberalism and all the rest, literally lose their conviction. They have doubts in their minds. Tragic. Stay away from them. The Bible could not be more clear. There's no justification for you to take the pure mind that God has given you and fill those little pockets of memory with a lot of lies and a lot of anti-biblical information.