Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. 2 Timothy 3:5
The verses before this one in 2 Timothy don’t paint a good picture. Paul wrote that in the last days difficult times would come. He said that people would be lovers of self and lovers of money, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, amongst other descriptors. Well that pretty much describes our “selfie” culture, doesn’t it?
Then Paul said that people would have an appearance of godliness, but deny its power. People who consider themselves to be atheists or nonreligious wouldn’t have an appearance of godliness, nor would they attempt to do so. It is Christians that would consider themselves godly. But Paul wrote that many will deny the power that comes through godliness.
I’ve always taken this verse as meaning that we deny God’s power, like the power that comes from accessing the Holy Spirit, the power of the Bible, and the power of prayer. So many people that are Christians don’t put their money where their mouth is when it comes to those three areas. They say they believe in prayer, but don’t come to prayer meetings. They say that the Word is able to change lives and equip us for every good work, but they don’t really read and study it much. And they may or may not say that they have a relationship with the Holy Spirit. Many people I know would shy away from that topic.
Lately I’ve been thinking about people I know who say they don’t read the Bible, but call themselves Christians. I would describe them as “good” people, but not godly people. There isn’t much power in being a good person, but there is in being godly. It is making every effort to be diligent, kind, gentle, honest, filled with integrity in everything you do. It means keeping a clean conscience before God and before others. We would call that holiness, and that’s something we don’t emphasize much these days. I guess people think that’s old school or legalistic in this day of grace. But yet, there is power in it.
Don’t deny the power that comes from godliness. Positively stated, if you make godliness a priority, you will be fruitful and effective in your Christian life, as 2 Peter 1:8 promises. It will also keep you from being a lover of self, of money and of pleasure, rather than a love of God.
“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Timothy 3:2-5
*Image from walkingchristian.com