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"NOW as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest to all men, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long suffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecution I endured; but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and leaders astray shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them."—2 Tim. 3:8-14.
We are asked whether or not this Scripture is applicable to the present time; and, if so, how we shall understand the expression, "Men of corrupt minds"? Shall we look for these amongst moral reprobates?
We reply that we should understand this Scripture to be applicable at the present time. We should be able to find classes today corresponding to Jannes and Jambres. The Apostle distinctly says in introducing these words, "This know also that in the last days [of the age] perilous times shall come." Undoubtedly the Apostle meant that we should look for the fulfillment of his declaration in the "harvest" or end of the Gospel Age.
We are not to expect these leaders astray in the Church to be moral lepers, reprobates. Assuredly Satan would be too wise to use such as his tools, knowing that he could effect his purposes better through those who outwardly, at least, would be moral and religious. Notice that the Apostle did not say reprobate as respects morals, but reprobates as respects the faith. It does not say men of corrupt morals, but does say men of corrupt minds—men whose minds have become perverted, changed, altered, as respects the Truth. He who does not see any fulfillment of this prophecy and who yet believes that we are living in the close of the Gospel Age should certainly at once begin to look for them and endeavor to locate them.
This passage, in harmony with many other Scriptures, assures us of the trials of faith to be expected in this, our day. Remember the Apostle's words respecting the fire of this day, which shall try every man's work, of what sort it is—gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble. Remember the Prophet Malachi's declaration that in this time the special Messenger of the New Covenant would sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. Remember the Prophet David's explanation of our day with its arrows, pestilences, stumbling blocks, etc., and the declaration that a thousand would fall at our side.
Let us not forget either our Lord's positive assurances, that he would keep his very own, his elect—those making their calling and election sure. Remember the declaration respecting this elect Body of Christ that a thousand shall fall at thy side, ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee, because thou hast made the Lord thy refuge and habitation. The shielded ones will be those who live very near to the Lord—not only outwardly, but in their heart experiences. These very elect have the assurance that God will give his messengers charge concerning them, so that the feet shall not be dashed against the stumbling stone, but be borne up, lifted higher by the Divinely appointed agencies of Jehovah.—Psalm 91.
Remember again the assurance of the Apostle that although this day shall come upon many "as a thief and as a snare," and that they should not escape the snares, nevertheless the faithful would not be in darkness. Remember our Lord's assurances that although trials and difficulties are to be expected which would deceive, if it were possible, the very elect, yet it will not be possible to deceive the very elect. So close will they be in sympathetic fellowship with the great Shepherd that they will discern his voice and not be deceived by others, of the Jannes and Jambres class.—Mark 13:22.
Remember also the Apostle's words, "Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand." (Eph. 6:13.) He pictures the armor, the protection that would be granted to a certain class—the helmet, the breastplate, the shield, the sword of the spirit. He expressly indicated that these defences would be provided for "the evil day" with which our age would close. He specially advised that while this armor was available to all of God's people and to be had [R4439 : page 221] for the putting on, nevertheless only those who will put it on will be safe. Why so, is it asked? We reply that this is one of God's tests by which he would prove our love, our devotion, our loyalty to him. Those of little love will be careless respecting the details of the Divine Plan of the Ages. "They will not have time" to search the Scriptures. They will not be disposed to make use of the agencies which God will use for providing this armament in this evil day. They will have preference for some sectarian brand of armor or insist that it must come from some particular quarter, or refuse to wear any armor that they have not manufactured for themselves, or refuse assistance in putting on the armor of light.
All such objections, we may be sure, would mean to the Lord disloyalty, headiness, self-will, lack of humility, etc., incompatible with the conditions of his "call." He is looking for those who humble themselves, and who are glad to have his Truth at any cost, and whose hearts, long famished, hunger and thirst for the Truth, and who know the Shepherd's voice, and who find in his message that which "satisfies their longings as nothing else could do." These will gladly accept the armament and by becoming faithful students will make it their own—will put it on. These will be kept while others will fall at their side.
Those who fall away after once having been partially enlightened, for the most part, are those who never properly applied themselves to know, to understand the Divine Plan. Their disobedience to the words of the Lord through the Apostle, their neglect to put on the armor, proved that they are not of the class whom the Lord prefers in the present "election."
On the other hand it must not surprise us either, that some, after wearing the armor, they tell us for eighteen years and preaching to others its value and necessity, should put it off now, in the closing hours as it were. And now, while the Enemy is about and the fight in progress, they assure us that this armor is proving unreliable, that they themselves have been deceived and have deceived others and that they now have taken it off, exchanging it for a new kind of their own make and brand. We are sorry for such.
Doubtless there were many people in Moses' day who were not at all in sympathy with him and his presentations, but who let him alone and hindered him not. Jannes and Jambres, on the contrary, specially opposed Moses and sought to bring to naught the force of his presentations to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, by imitating his doings to a certain degree. It is not known if these two men were Hebrews or not. Their names are nowhere else mentioned in the Scriptures, though they are mentioned in the Jewish Talmud, where the Hebrew names given justify the inference that they were Hebrews who, to curry favor with Pharaoh or to add to their own fame, resisted Moses and his presentations of Divine Truth, seeking to nullify the influence of the latter. Have we not some similarity in the conditions of the present day? Are there not some whom St. John describes as having gone out from us because they are not of us? Do not these, instead of assisting with the Harvest Work, now seek by every power they possess to oppose it, to nullify it, to belittle its influence? But St. Paul declares that they shall not go far in this opposition until "their folly shall be made manifest," as that of Jannes and Jambres was—by their failure to hinder the Lord's work.
Let us leave such matters with the Lord to reward and to rectify in his own time and way. Let us seek by patient perseverance in well-doing, loyalty, faithfulness, to make our calling and election sure.