“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” 2nd Timothy 3: 1-5
You might be thinking, “I’m not any of those horrible things!” And while we are seeing evidence of terrible times in present-day culture, for the church, I believe God wants us to really hone in on the latter part of the text. Having a form of godliness indicates that, in the last days, people would look like Christians. What does a form of godliness look like? Perhaps they go to church…maybe they can quote what are non-scriptural cliches within the spheres of Christianity like, “God never gives you more than you can handle”, or “When God closes a door he opens a window.” They celebrate Easter and Christmas (for some they only attend church at Easter and Christmas), and they might even be able to quote a scripture or two. They probably own a bible, but they don’t read it.
In Matthew 7:15 the Bible talks about knowing prophets by their fruit, and we can also use this scripture to apply to the fruit we either see or don’t see in a believer’s life. Trees are known by the types of fruit they bear. As the holy spirit begins to work in the heart of a new believer, God’s character is made manifest through the transformation and refinement of a believer, from the inside out. A person who lives life at the well of Jesus begins to exhibit the fruit of love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. It’s antithetical to the scripture in 2 Timothy that we just reviewed. Those with a form of godliness make an outward display of the “being a christian” on the surface, but there is no depth, no real relationship with Jesus underneath the surface.
We should examine our own fruit, as well as the fruit of those around us. Are we bearing any? Do our day-to-day life, conversations, and associations prove that we are pursuing Jesus rather than adding a dose of Christianity to our worldly lifestyle? It’s important to understand your sphere and the culture of your environment because it is shaping YOU. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Jim Rohn says it this way: “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Your friendships and associations influence who you are and who you will eventually become. They determine what you value and prioritize. God’s word also says “Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart”, and “They honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me” (Matt. 5:18). We should be the kind of people who live a lifestyle of honoring God first in all things and choosing to align ourselves with other believers aspire to the same kind of righteous living.
This passage from 2nd Timothy invites a pause to self-reflect on who we really are, and the trajectory of our life based on our focus, decisions, and associations. It takes giving the Holy Spirit permission to convict us by showing us where we’ve been getting it wrong so that we can repent and pursue God the way he desires. AND BEAR FRUIT.
Some of God’s people have compromised. They are not quite in the world, not quite in the kingdom of heaven. They look upon and give commentary on the state of the world yet they fail to look inward and examine their own hearts. They have a form of godliness but they stifle the transforming power of the work of the cross, the power to change the world by becoming a living vessel of the message of Jesus Christ. They have made the holy mundane, slowly exchanging the truth of God for a lie. They have a form of godliness but but they are compromising like Ephesus. Paul warns true believers to have nothing to do with such kinds of people.
Verse 16 in 2nd Timothy 3 says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Chapter 4 states, “In the presence of God of Christ Jesus who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage- with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from truth and turn aside to myths. But you keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
Today, I pray that you will ask the Holy Spirit to show you the truths he wishes to teach you about your walk with God, your lifestyle, your relationships, and your fruit. May you become closer and closer to God as you pursue a life of true godliness in Him.