2 Timothy 2:19 ESV But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
There are two great consolations for us in this text. First, that the Lord knows who are His sheep. Second, that His flock consists of those who depart from iniquity. They do not walk in sin. They are new creations. This is consolation for us because it seems so often that there is such a mixture of tares among the wheat that sorting them out may appear impossible.
This is one of the chief evils we face, is it not? That local churches – the “visible church” as we call them – embrace the wicked and pronounce them God’s people. Even though they do not “depart from evil,” still they are welcomed into the church. They “name the name of the Lord” and call Him their father, yet he does not know them.
The Apostle Paul gives us further encouragement in this matter. He continues:
2 Timothy 2:20-21 ESV Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. (21) Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
In this “great house” of the visible church, there are people who are vessels of gold and silver, and there are people who are wood and clay. Both kinds bring glory to God, but in very different ways. One for the glory of His marvelous grace in Christ, and one for the glory and praise of His perfect justice. The most evil, deceptive, wicked hypocrite who deviously refuses to cleanse himself from sin, wearing that pious outward disguise of “holiness,” is going to receive justice on the day when Christ comes and reveals the hearts of all.
And on that same day, those who were so often regarded as “dishonorable vessels fit only for carrying out filth and waste,” are going to be revealed as, in fact, gold and silver – the real thing.
If you truly know Christ and belong to Him, then you “cleanse yourself” from the dishonorable acts of sin. You “depart from iniquity.” By this we know that we know Him, and that He knows us. Make no mistake. Christ knows who are His own. He knows you and owns you. And He knows who is faking it.