It is one thing to be well, but far more significant to end well. Perhaps this is why Solomon, inspired by God, wrote, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.” Ecclesiastes 7:8.
Finishing well is no mean feat. There are a multitude of diversions, temptations, endless detours to keep us from the finish line. Jesus taught us, “he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). Not he who starts well, or even he who runs the fastest, or put in the most entertaining performance, no, simply, “he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”
So we must ask ourselves, as a disciple, am I in it for the long haul? Am I determined to cross the finish line? Will I endure to the end no matter what? In our series on the heroes of the Epistle to Philemon we have seen two heroes already who, in suffering for their faith, are great examples to us. Last week we met Aristarchus, who was willing to suffer for Christ, and then of course Onesimus who was ultimately martyred for following Christ.
Because we are in the spiritual battle field, the one thing we must never forget is the strategy of our enemy. Once we are in Christ he cannot take us to hell, but he wants to defeat us, to immobilize us, to cause us to give up the fight. We can learn how not to run the race, from the New Testament anti-hero, Demas.
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Demas was a disciple who started well, but ended tragically. When Paul was imprisoned a second time at Rome just before his martyrdom, Demas forsook him (2 Timothy 4:9-10). At the end of the record, Demas was a spiritual washout.
Although we don’t know all the details, many scholars believe that Demas forsook Paul because he clearly saw the persecution to come as Nero enacted his Satanic policy against the church. Demas flinched. He worried what it would cost him to associate any longer with the Apostle Paul.
I see a similar response in the treatment of Chief Justice Roy Moore, by many who initially supported him. When the vile left came after him with lies and lander of the worst sort, many forsook him. It is hard to determine at this point the extent of the election fraud in Alabama’s special election, but what does appear is that many voters abandoned him as well. Why did they do so? I believe Paul’s explanation fits well in this day, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” We must not let that become our epitaph, but gladly stand for the truth of God’s Law in the midst of a culture awash in lies.
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