As I was reading in my personal devotions the other day, I read a verse, and it struck me so strongly that these were some of the saddest, most tragic, words in the Bible.
Here is the verse:
2 Timothy 3:5 “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such turn away.”
There are so many these days, who live within the words of this verse. These are people who would call themselves ‘spiritual’ but they don’t even have the real Holy Spirit. People who would acknowledge that there is a ‘higher power’ somewhere out there, but don’t ever seek Him out, or truly desire to know Him. And He is soooo knowable!
The context of this verse is a sad description of the “last days.” You can judge for yourself, but I think this passage perfectly describes the days we are currently living in. At the very least, beginning to live in.
2 Timothy 3:1-9
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.”
Those are some dire verses, but very descriptive of a downward spiral away from any true knowledge of God.
Why do I say that verse 5 contains some of the saddest words of the Bible?
Because one day, these people will stand before the Judgment seat of God, the Great White Throne Judgment, and for all their ‘form of godliness,’ their spirituality they thought was so deep and meaningful, they will hear the tragic words from the One who sits upon the throne, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.” and they will be cast into utter darkness & the lake of fire for all of eternity.
The second part of verse 5 tells us that even though they have a form of godliness, they “deny the power thereof.” This to me also speaks of tragedy. Our one and only True God is ALL Powerful! To know Him is to know, or have the potential to know, His unlimited Power in our lives!
What does it mean to “deny the power thereof?”
Jesus said “I am the Way the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) Denying this Truth is to deny the one and only way to the True God. Denying this is to reject the Power of the One True God, who provided the Way.
Trying to find a back door to God is denying the Truth and Power of God. There is no back door.
Only the One True God has the:
Power to Save us from hell.
Power to free us from sin.
Power to change us into a new creation when we give our lives to Him.
Power to give us Eternal Life in Heaven with Him.
“Look and live” was the command for the ones bitten by the venomous snakes in the wilderness in Numbers 21. At God’s command, Moses had crafted a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. In order to live after being bitten, all one had to do was look at the bronze serpent on the pole, and they would receive salvation & healing from the venomous snake bite. It was an act of faith. Faith in God and the Way He provided. It was also a clear picture of how the Savior would be lifted up on the cross as the sacrificial Lamb of God. To be saved from the deadly venom of sin, all we have to do is look in Faith to Jesus for our Salvation. The Way God provided. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:14-15
So, here these people are, denying the power of God, and yet claiming to have godliness. How empty and hollow is this belief. It is a pseudo belief system, and it puts the person themselves in the “god” place, because they are the ones deciding what fits their form of godliness or not. They are the ones in authority, not the One True God, who has revealed Himself to us through His Word as the Absolute Authority. “Spirituality” puts you at the center, in essence, making you the god in your own life.
True Christianity puts God at the center.
“Spirituality” is a cheap imitation of True Christianity. It is like the wheat and the tares parable in the Bible. (Matthew 13) They may look alike and sound alike at times, but one is true and profitable, while the other has no value.
I Timothy 3:7 goes on to say that these people are “ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Why is this? It is because they are basing their quest for knowledge on the wrong foundation to start with. These people are constantly seeking a “deeper truth” but never consider looking to the One who is The Truth.
All truth is God’s truth. God needs to be at the foundation for any true knowledge to be built upon in a lasting and satisfying way in one’s personal life.
I know people like this also. Constantly jumping from one “new thing” to another. Putting so-called value on whatever amazing new knowledge or thing they think they are coming up with. Putting themselves on a pedestal for even “discovering” this new and important knowledge. But again, it is empty! It is a quest for something beyond themselves, but it is not based on the right foundation. Jesus. It will not quench their thirst, or feed their hunger pangs. Only Jesus will do that. Only Jesus can give the fulfilling meaning to the truth that is built upon the firm foundation that only Jesus provides.
Is it wrong to have a spiritual side that seeks truth and fulfillment beyond ourselves? No, I don’t think so. I do believe that God has fitted us with what many have paraphrased from a quote from the mathematician Blaise Pascal and called a “God-shaped hole” inside ourselves. (See the real quote below, along with one from St. Augustine) Only God can fill that hole. So if your honest spiritual quest takes you to the feet of Jesus, then it has been a true spiritual quest. If it takes you to yourself, then you are the tares, and not the wheat from the parable, and you will be cast into the fire and burned as chaff. This is why these are some of the saddest words in the Bible.
To have a form of godliness, but deny the True Power of God to save, and then to pay for that poor decision for all eternity… my heart breaks for those within this verse. Don’t let that be you.
Blaise Pascal quote:
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”
St. Augustine quote:
“You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”
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