This comment of Paul to Timothy particularly invites our meditations today. Jesus accused the religious leaders of his day of having an “appearance of godliness”, he said “‘This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me …” [Matt. 15 v.8,9] They were too self-centred, they did not realize, let alone appreciate, the wonder of really having a relationship with God.
What we especially note in today’s 3rd chapter of Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy is that Paul says that this will be the situation “in the last days” [v.1] The Spirit gives Paul a ‘picture’ of the scene, this shows it will be far worse then than when Jesus criticised the Pharisees.
Paul tells Timothy (and us) that “in the last days … people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless…” [v.2,3] Furthermore they will be “without self-control … not loving good … swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” [v.4,5]
Through the centuries, an “appearance of godliness” has existed, but today it has almost faded out of existence. How much is this affecting you and I? True godliness had “power” to influence others, Paul was an outstanding example.Timothy is told, “But as for you” and we should say, ‘as for us’ – accepting Paul’s words as essential advice for us too, “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” [v.14,15]
Those sacred writings would have been the scriptures of the Old Testament so largely ignored by those who claim to be christian today. We must take the final part of this chapter fully to heart, it is the opposite of “denying it’s power.” Paul declares, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man (and woman) of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” How is our training progressing?
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