For the past week I have been reading in 2 Timothy. It has been a truly refreshing experience as someone who serves the Lord through ministry as a pastor. There are times when it becomes very frustrating navigating through this world. Leading God's people through these troubling times is a heavy responsibility that can only be done through his power and grace. It must be done!
Paul writes to Timothy to encourage him in teaching the truth of the Scriptures. This is needed in light of the evil people coming into the church to wreak havoc. He describes these people in verses 1-5 in chapter 3.
"But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people." (CSB)
Many look at this passage as describing something that will take place in the far future; but Paul is actually describing those who were living then, those living now, and those living in the future until the return of Christ. As John MacArthur explains it Paul and the early church believed that we have been the last days since Christ left this earth after his resurrection until he returns again to claim his people out of this world. I agree with him. We are in the last days.
The Church today is and has always been attacked from within. These are those who call themselves "Christian" but are not. They are "holding to a form of godliness but denying its power." This is what Thom Rainer calls "Churchianity." In his book I Will, he defines it as "practicing our church and religious beliefs according to human standards rather than biblical guidelines" (93). WOW!!!! May this not be named of us!
This idea should horrify us. Are we practicing Christianity or "Churchianity"? Are we all form and no substance? Do we rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us in his power and might? Great and terrible questions!
May it be found within our lives that we are following the Lord Jesus. This should be our desire and prayer; for we are unable to do it in our own strength.