Haven of Truth Article – A Very Sad Verse
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast.” Hebrews 6.19
By Pastor Barry Black
The bible is so very practical and up to date. Even the saddest of verses is important and can be full of application. In this article we will see specific passages of Scripture, which teach both a doctrinal and practical truths for the believer.
It doesn’t feel very good, does it?
Have you ever been forsaken by a friend? It is a very sad and lonely feeling, and can be quite overwhelming. At the end of Paul’s life (some believe in the last days or even hours), Paul penned his second letter to Timothy. In 2 Timothy 4.9-22, Paul spent the last 14 verses of his last letter with personal greetings and remarks. Most of those were positive remarks toward those who had been a help to him in his ministry. However there were at least 2 people whom Paul mentioned that stand as a rebuke and warning; one of which was a man named Demas. But first let’s back up and look at the people Demas is mentioned alongside and see what we learn about him.
Mentioned only a few times
In two places Demas is listed as a fellow worker with Paul. “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you.”(Colossians 4.14) He is also listed in Philemon verses 23,24: “salute…Ephaphras, my fellowprisoner in Jesus Christ. Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.” Demas was a brother in Christ and a fellowlabourer with the apostle Paul – a partner in the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was in the company of Epaphras, John Mark (a.k.a. Marcus – Colossians 4.10; Philemon vs. 24; 1 Peter 5.13), Aristarchus, and Luke (a.k.a. Lucas – 2 Corinthians 13.14; Philemon verses 23,24). Although not much is mentioned about Demas, he is listed as a co-worker alongside some spiritually mature believers mentioned often in Acts and in Paul’s letters.
He was previously faithful
Apparently Demas was a trusted veteran among the ranks of those with whom he is mentioned. Epaphras is mentioned in Scripture as a man of fervent prayer (Colossians 4.12). John Mark was a young man who is described at the end of Paul’s life as one who was profitable for the ministry (2 Timothy 4.11). Aristarchus is mentioned as a companion in Paul’s travels (see Acts 19.29; 20.4; 27.2; and Colossians 4.10). Luke was the “beloved physician” (Colossians 4.14) and faithful friend of Paul (2 Timothy 4.11), who penned the book of Acts (Acts 1.1; Luke 1.3).
Wonder what happened?
In 2 Timothy 4, the Apostle Paul writes his final words included in Scripture. When writing his closing words to Timothy about long time friends and partners in ministry, Paul said in 2 Timothy 4.10:
“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.”
Demas is described as having “forsaken” Paul. However, it doesn’t simply mean that he only forsook Paul, he certainly did that; but there is more to it than merely forsaking Paul’s company and friendship. The Greek word that Paul used for “forsaken” (egkataleipō), means: to totally abandon, to desert, to leave in straits, to leave helpless, to utterly forsake (source:blueletterbible.org). Interestingly enough, the same Greek word is used by Matthew and Mark when recording Jesus words on the cross, “my God, why hast thou forsaken me”.
To forsake Paul was one thing. It was sad enough that Demas left Paul, his good, faithful friend in Christ. But what is even sadder is that Demas had forsaken the ministry that he once had with Paul; and quite possibly abandoned his walk with His Lord. Who was Demas? Was he a missionary? He was of sorts at least, if not “officially”. But then all of us are missionaries to an extent; we are all given the command to spread the gospel everywhere (Mark 16.15; 2 Corinthians 4.1-7), and to be a testimony to other Christians as well as to the unsaved (1 Corinthians 8.9-13; 9.23-27).
However, Demas had forsaken that calling. For some reason, he left to go to Thessalonica. Perhaps persecution had become too great. In fact, as Paul wrote Second Timothy, Pau was just a short time (days or possibly hours) from being martyred for the sake of the gospel. Maybe that price seemed too high for Demas. Perhaps he went to Thessalonica for financial gain, or for family. We can only speculate as to why; but the truth of the matter is that something pulled him away, as indicated in the phrase, “…having loved this present world…” The apostle John said in 1 John 2.15-17:
Love not the world, neither the things in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, are not of the Father, but are of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.
“He’s not the only one”
In Luke chapter 8, Jesus gives a parable to His disciples of the sower, the seed, and the soils. It is evident that the first of the 4 seeds sown on the wayside (Luke 8.5) represents those who hear the gospel, but do not believe on Christ as Savior (Luke 8.12). The other three types of soil represent those who are saved; but of those, 2 types of soil represent believers that do not do well spiritually. Those in Luke 8.7 and 14 are described as being sown among thorns. Thorns represent believers who have been “choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8.14). Their condition is found in other places in scripture as well. For example, Hebrews 10.38: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Demas is a prime example of the believer described by Jesus in Luke 8 verses 7 and 14. Something had obviously “choked” (Luke 8.14) his desire to continue in obedience, and therefore caused him to “draw back” (Hebrews 10.38).
Was it worth it, Demas?
A sobering question which we should regularly ask ourselves would be, “What could seem to be more rewarding than what we can enjoy for eternity?” In other words, what can we gain in this life that would be more important than something we could enjoy for eternity? (See also Matthew 6.19-21). Approval and reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ should be enough motivation to keep us focused on the eternal and to run the race well (1 Corinthians 9.24-25; Hebrews 12.1-3); but unfortunately that is not always the case. Certainly all believers have times when we struggle as did the Apostle Paul – (Romans 7.18-24). In fact, it is very possible you struggle on a daily basis. With that in mind, it is very possible for a believer to fall prey to the same tragedy as Demas. His legacy is a sad, sobering warning of what could happen when a believer forsakes the work of God, and embraces a life of disobedience to our Lord. Hopefully at some point Demas made his way back into fellowship with his Lord. But from what Paul wrote, it appears that Demas was “disqualified from the race” (1 Corinthians 9.26-27).
Count the cost and avoid the loss
Luke 14.25-35 Jesus gives several analogies concerning discipleship. One of them is found in 14.28-30. He likens discipleship to building a tower, and being able to finish the tower. The difference between beginning to build the tower and whether or not it can be finished, is found in the ability to count the cost. The application is clear: to be a Christian requires faith alone in Christ alone. To be a disciple requires cost. The cost may be a willingness to suffer ridicule or even martyrdom; or it may be to be “disowned” by family or friends (or even to sacrifice relationships with family or friends see Luke 14.26,); or bearing our cross (Luke 14.27) in some way.
Count the cost and anticipate the reward
Correct teaching about the Judgment Seat of Christ teaches us application of important truths regarding eternal security, living for the temporary, and potential embarrassment at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
4.8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
4.1 “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom”
When Paul begins chapter 4, he reminds Timothy and all believers that the Judgment Seat of Christ is a certainty in our future. With that in mind, he encourages and challenges Timothy (and all believers) to remain faithful (verse 2 – “be instant in season, out of season”), and to spread the gospel (verse 5 – “do the work of an evangelist”). The Judgment Seat of Christ is an encouragement to be faithful and fruitful; but it is also a warning about becoming lax and foolish in our Christian life (for other references, see 1 Corinthians 3.9-17; Romans 14; 2 Corinthians 5; 2nd John verse 8). There are other reminders in Scripture to believers about forfeiting eternal rewards for temporal pleasure (Hebrews 12.15-17).
The safest place on earth is in the center of God’s will for our life; loving Him and serving Him faithfully. We should all take heed to our spiritual walk lest we become like Demas and others who “went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6.66).
Barry D. Black is Pastor of Anchor Bible Church
Their website is: www.anchorbible.org
Barry’s e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org