2 Timothy 3:8-9
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.…
I. THE NATURE OF THE OPPOSITION OFFERED BY THESE MEN TO MOSES. You do not find that they tried to make light of the miracles of Moses, or call in question their genuineness, or anything of the sort. No, they simply tried by imitations to depreciate the value of the real. They so surrounded the true diamond with cut glass copies that in the eye of an undiscerning public it was difficult to tell the difference. This is the kind of resistance the Church has to struggle against in the present day. The old, rough, brutal, physical opposition has passed away. It would be folly on the part of Satan to try and use such weapons now. Like a skilful angler he suits the fly on his hook to the season of the year. Variety, if not pleasing, is profitable to him in this respect. Having failed to do away with Christians, he now seeks to make the whole world Christian after his sort. Stamping out the genuine having proved an utter failure, he now seeks to swamp them with imitations of his own manufacture.
II. THE INFLUENCE OF JANNES AND JAMBRES. Jannes and Jambres wield an immense power in the present day, and it is no use shutting our eyes to the fact. Jannes is not to be got rid of with a laugh, nor Jambres with a smile of indifference. Their existence is a source of constant danger, and their presence in the professing Church does more to paralyze its testimony than all the outward opposition and persecution it has ever met. This form of Satanic resistance is an awful proof of the deep-sightedness of the great adversary. He knows that nothing can possibly deaden the power of the Church's testimony more than flooding it with a number of cold formalists, who in the eyes of the world can do as much as the genuine Christian. And then when the world detects they are but shams and finds that it has been deceived, so much the better for him, for he knows that the whole Church will be judged by the impostors, and all put down as belonging to the same family. Counterfeits destroy confidence. This is true in everything. It is unprincipled rogues that make it so hard for honest men to get their bread. It is quackery that keeps the true medicine out of the field. It is bubble joint-stock companies that eat out all commercial trust, and make the very name to many a synonym for fraud. Everywhere the true and real are suffering through the influence of the false and base imitations. I have heard an anecdote somewhere that so exactly sets forth the idea I have in my mind I cannot but tell it. One gentleman made a wager with another that if he stood on London Bridge with a tray full of sovereigns and offered them to the public for sixpence each, he would not sell half a dozen of them in the day. All day long the man cried out, "Real sovereigns for sixpence," and declared with all earnestness that he could guarantee their genuineness. Of course no one believed him and he sold none. Why? Because the public had so often seen sham sovereigns for sale that it never doubted they were the same. The gilt having come first had destroyed all faith in the gold. Just so in the spiritual world. The existence of Jannes and Jambres eats out all faith in the reality of any Christian life.
III. THE END OF THEIR RESISTANCE. They were put to shame (see Exodus 8:18). Ah Jannes, it must have been a bitter moment when you stood convicted before all of being an impostor! How complete the collapse of their pretensions. So shall it he with their followers of to-day. This Paul most distinctly states in the verse following our text, "But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men as theirs also was." "Folly"? No other word could better describe their resistance. The hypocrite is of all fools the greatest. He is almost certain to be unmasked in time, and even should he carry on the horrible deception unto the last, what shall it profit him when God calleth for his soul? Now just as Jannes and Jambres failed to do all that Moses did, so there are some things that the mere formalist can never accomplish. I will but mention two.
1. He has no power to bear trouble with joyfulness. His whole life being one of externals, when he is driven by force of circumstances to seek his joy in the life within, he fails, and fails utterly, for there is no life there. A sham Christianity withers up in days of trouble. It has no arms to put beneath a man when the dark waters of sorrow roll and surge around him. No, it can do none of these. It fails like the magicians when needed the most. The "form" may do for bright and sunny days when sorrow and sickness are unknown, but it requires the "power" to triumph in the winter night, and to "take joyfully the spoiling of the goods." Put a Jannes or Jambres amidst a number of anxious souls, and tell him to speak to them and point them the way of peace. See how he fails.
2. If not, I pray you to remember that Jannes and Jambres were included in the doom of the Egyptians. When the angel of death walked through the streets of Egypt, there was no exception made. The form of religion does not save — the appearance of piety is of no avail.
(A. G. Brown.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.