2 Timothy 3.8 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.
This statement made by Paul follows a blistering portion of Scriptures that are descriptive of the DNA of fallen man in the last days. The last days, of course, is a description of the time from the first appearing of Christ until His Second Coming (see note on Acts 2:17; 1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 1:1, 2; 1 Pet. 1:20, 1 John 2:18). Interestingly, the list begins with men being lovers of self and ends with loving pleasures more than lovers of God.
Did you catch that, beloved? Paul is not taking about atheists here. He is talking about self loving people who embrace forms of godliness. In others words, people in the last days will include “church people” who are characterized by all kinds of self-centered and unnatural perversions. Amazingly, some will maintain an outward form of godliness. They will be speaking the vocabulary of Christianity, but refusing the reality that Christian faith expresses.
These religious impostors will steadily degenerate, becoming worse and worse. Why? Because a form of godliness is always far easier to bear than the cross of Christianity.
What is the power of God? The transforming, regenerating power of the cross of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The power of God is the gospel that makes us new creatures. This power is not brought about by rituals or good works. This power of God is not brought about by embracing any form of Christianity. This power of God is brought about by God, one soul at a time. His power is brought about as God calls sinners to repentance. Oh beloved, Jesus did more than hang out with the lost and seek to be relevant with them. He called them to repentance. Forms of godliness are a dime a dozen. Listen carefully. No form of godliness or brand of denominational church structure can give you life. Only Jesus can. Forms of godliness are bent on conforming you into their mold or image. Their way of evangelizing. Their terminology or philosophy of the Christian life. Only the Living Jesus can light a fire in your soul!
Like the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2, it is very easy for a person or church to drift away from being deeply in love with and committed to Jesus, to embracing a form of Orthodoxy that denies the power of the gospel. After 3 years of ministry on earth, Jesus had gathered 120 disciples. His “new wine” of self denial and cross lost out to the religious machine of the form of godliness of the day.
Don’t settle for a form of godliness instead of Jesus. They needed to repent. So do I. When Jesus is supplemented by the forms and how to’s of our own forms of godliness, the inevitable result will be supplanted by a self centered, don’t bother or inconvenience me, what’s in it for me brand of faith that lacks the power of God. Thus, the church exists for you, not you for the church. Living for Jesus every day is what following Jesus is all about. It is it not about choosing which form of godliness I like best. It’s about being a living sacrifice for The Master and making each day make an impact for His Name and His glory.