Satan uses so many “tools” as he seeks to discourage our devotion to Christ. Faith can far more easily thwart the attacks the god of this world makes against us if we would heed the words of Paul. The great apostle said, “We are not ignorant of his devices,” but if we are ignorant Satan takes advantage of us (2 Cor. 2:11). The English Standard Version translates the words, “We would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”
As we walk with the Lord, we can make a mistake by placing other Christians on a high pedestal, and they become a visible hero of faith. Perhaps you have done this, for so many look at others and they become a model of what we want to be some day. However, what do you do when that person changes, or you get to know him better and he/she no longer stands on that pedestal of admiration where you placed them?
This problem confronted early Christians. In Paul’s letters to Timothy, he mentioned men who were respected who lost their faith. In his first letter to the young preacher, Paul speaks of Hymenaeus and Alexander who had rejected the faith and suffered shipwreck. Paul had dealt with them. While we use the term “withdrawing fellowship” Paul used a stronger phrase to describe this action. He says he had “delivered them to Satan,” hoping that doing this would help them to see they had blasphemed God by their actions (1 Tim. 1:20—see these same words used in Paul’s instruction about withdrawing from an unfaithful Christian in 1 Corinthians 5:4-5).
We do not know the details of these men’s actions, but in the second letter to Timothy, Paul mentions Hymenaeus again. This evil man who had been given to Satan in the first letter evidently was still impacting the church. He was teaching a false doctrine which was spreading like cancer, and there were those who followed him (2 Tim. 2:17-18). He had overturned the faith of those followers.
Paul then reminded Timothy of the fact that personal “heroes of faith” can harm the faith of those in the church—one thing has not changed. It is so important that we look at this unchangeable truth when leading brethren leave the faith. Consider what he says and never tie your faith to people you admire. Failure to understand this gives Satan an advantage over you.
What is that unchangeable truth? Paul says, “Nevertheless the foundation of God stands” (2 Tim. 2:20). Men we foolishly place on high pedestals may disappoint us, but nothing really has changed! Paul closes by mentioning two great foundational truths. God knows those who are His, and we must not follow others into their sin. Put your faith in God and tie your faith to Him. There is only One real hero!