2 Timothy 3:5 ” (In the last days there will be times of difficulty, with people) having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
There is this joke about the guy who goes into a hardware store and tells the clerk he wants a good chainsaw because he has a bunch of trees to cut down. Money is no object. So the clerk takes him to his favorite brand and says “Oh yea, this will be the ticket. You can’t get a better chainsaw.” They complete the transaction. A week later, the guy comes back and says “I’ve been using this thing all week and have only got two trees down. There’s got to be a better saw.” The store clerk takes a hold of the chainsaw, and says “let’s give it a listen” as he pulls the chain to start it up. The other guy says “Hey, what’s that noise?”
We can be like this guy who tries to cut down trees without pulling the cord and using its real power. How? By denying the power tools that God gives us: The Bible, the Holy Spirit, and prayer. There are probably more power tools, but I’ll start with those. We might believe that they’re all good things, but if we don’t access them, we’re nice looking on the outside but powerless and ineffective. People are sincere but quick to explain away and excuse the very tools that God provides to have power, effectiveness and victory.
My experience in the church these days is that if you get too serious about the Word, that’s a bad thing. It’s easier to have small groups with lots of fellowship than Bible studies, seeker sensitive themes, more singing than sermons and changing the subject when it comes to talking about being in the Word daily and putting into practice what it says. It doesn’t need to be banging people over the head, but sincerely seeking to study and know the Bible, and then to have it change our lives.
And then there’s the Holy Spirit. It’s too easy to treat Him as the weird second cousin than a part of God Himself that is active today, and how God works and communicates in and through our lives. People are too afraid of being flaky, but miss the part in John 10 where Jesus tells us that we’ll hear His voice because He’s the good shepherd and that we’ll know the difference between Him and a fake. In Acts 1:8 Jesus’ last words on earth were about giving us power to fulfill the Great Commission. If we go out without power, we won’t cut down many trees and we’ll be exhausted.
Finally, it’s about prayer. In Ephesians 6, at the end of Paul’s description of the armor of God, he admonishes us to pray at all times with all sorts of prayers. One kind of those prayers has to do with our own personal communion with God. Another is the corporate prayer, which is sadly neglected all too often. Jim Cymbala, the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, a large church in New York City, has a video called “House of Prayer.” In it he tells of how he purposed to never let any program in their church out number the prayer meeting. They have a large and famous choir, but there are always more out for Tuesday night prayer than for Wednesday night choir practice. And God shows up, pulling lives out of the pit of destruction and bringing them into His kingdom, using this church.
2 Timothy 3 tells us to avoid the people that have a form of godliness but deny its power. I don’t have to go out of my way to avoid them because I am just not drawn to them. And they avoid me as well because oil and water do not mix. In Galatians 5 :17 it says that the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other, waging a tug of war.