Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 13) — People Who ‘Have a Form of Godliness, but Deny the Power Thereof

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Today, we turn our attention to those who ‘have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.’ This is a sign of the times that is particularly relevant for those who are in the church. Just as sinners act like sinners, saved people ought to act like they are saved, and they ought to do so genuinely from the heart. However, sadly, that is not always the case. We, instead, have many people who only hold to a “form” of Christianity.

The word “form” refers to outward appearance or facade. It applies to those who do things in order to ‘keep up appearances’ before others. They appear to have a godly and pious life, they appear to be model Christians, but there is something amiss in their hearts. The Bible speaks to this condition several times.

Jesus Christ called out the religious leaders of his day for this type of false piety. He said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

That is how some Christians live their lives — like a pretty grave. They look good in church, like they have it all together. They sing, they serve, they share their testimony. But on the backside of the marble and white stone exterior, is a rotting, decaying skeleton. Behind closed doors, their family is not what it should be, they struggle with secret sin, their heart is really not into the Lord’s work as it should be. They only pay lip service to the principles of “Godliness”, but they do not apply those same principles to their own lives, and thus never experience the power of God that can transform their family, help them resist temptation, and set their heart on fire for God.

Have you ever seen a swan? A swan is a beautiful animal. But if you were to pluck those beautiful white feathers off of a swan, you would find that its skin is black. What would happen if someone plucked your feathers off? Will they find that you are just as godly on the inside as your outside appearance suggests?

What is this godliness we all ought to strive for? The word “godliness” comes from a Greek word meaning “well worship” or the right or true kind of worship. It is the attitude of a person who lives life with a sense of God’s presence and a desire to please and honor God in all that they do. Worship is not just singing songs on Sunday morning. We worship God when we act, think, and speak in a manner that honors and glorifies Him. We all ought to strive to live a life that is full of worship to God. When we are led by the Spirit of God, when our hearts are in the right place, and when we are obedient to God’s commands, we will experience the power of God in our lives.

Dr. Ed Hindson stated, “Most Christians and churches are powerless in the community. They only appear to be godly. Inwardly they are not because of sin.” If we want to see God’s power in our lives — healing in our families, spiritual revival in our churches, peace and compassion being demonstrated in our communities, we must lay aside our facades and the appearance of godliness that we hold to, we must turn away from our sins, and we must begin to live as truly godly individuals in this world.

Now, there are some who will not let go of their hypocrisy. They like to appear religious and pious, yet they do not want to let go of the sins they are engaged in. Some of these people are false teachers in the church who appear godly outwardly while preaching a message that is less than the gospel and leading the sheep astray. What should we do about such people? The latter part of our passage states, “from such turn away.” The command is simple: we ought to separate ourselves from those who have a form of godliness but deny its power. If someone who claims to be a Christian is leading a lifestyle that is contrary to the will of God, and if they refuse to repent, we are to separate ourselves from that person. You don’t have to be mean and hateful about it. Pray for them. Love them. But, do not fellowship with them lest their hypocrisy and ungodly living rub off on you.

In the late 1990s, an elderly couple was murdered in their home. Their pastor, John Canning, found them there and reported the crime. At the couple’s eulogy, he said that he was so close to the couple that he could call them Mom and Dad. But six weeks later, he was arrested and led off to jail charged with beating and strangling this elderly man and woman to death. The investigation found that this pastor had been given the power of attorney over this couple’s affairs and was abusing it. He was stealing their savings, and he killed the couple after they found out what he was doing. The police found that he waited a whole day to report their deaths. He spent that day at the beach and dining out with friends. One of the law enforcement officials who worked on the case said, “It’s the most despicable thing I’ve ever heard of. Of all the people in the world you should be able to trust, it’s your pastor.”

Sadly, not only pastors, but many Christians of all stripes are living lives of outward godliness but inner wickedness and evil. What we need more than ever today is the power of God that will bring about true spiritual revival and Biblical life change. But, that will not happen until we choose to get rid of our spiritual facades and become truly committed to worshipping and obeying God in our every thought, word, and deed.

Don’t be a phony and fake Christian — be real or get out!

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