Approved Unto God (last update to this study was made on 01/13/2004)
In Paul's inspired letter to Timothy, we find the words "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Tim 2:15)
The teaching within the walls of Babylon have often brought this verse to mean, if you study and apply yourself enough, you can gain the acceptance or approval of God. Clearly for those of us that have received an understanding of grace, we know that we could never "do" enough to "gain" approval of God, as if we were under the law again. On the flip side, it could be easy to interpret this verse and suggest that we are not to study, thinking it to be an effort to gain acceptance or approval of God. We should not look at this verse and suggest, if you need to study then you are under schoolmasters and the law.
First, we must not forget that these were the inspired words of Paul under the New Covenant. He would not have made a statement to study, suggesting that we are to work in an effort to gain our Father's approval. We are clearly approved in the beloved and the work that Christ did on calvary.
However, the verse is actually very simple in its meaning. The word "approved" means accepted, approved, proven or tried. Paul tells us to study or show ourselves to be proved and not ashamed. When we speak, we are to know and understand truth and when that is the case, the words will have authority and demonstrate that you are PROVED. Others that know not what they speak will only be found ashamed, they will not have the covering of the Spirit and be found naked.
In Corth 11:19, we find that there must be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. Can we not see that there are those that are approved, tried, proven and those that are not?
In James 1:12 we read "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is TRIED (the same word as approved in our text verse), he shall receive the crown of life.
So, WHEN we are found approved, when we are found qualified and proven, it will not bring shame but rather honor and glory. Praise the Lord!