A Form Of Godliness
2nd Timothy 3:1-9 - But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth-men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
Scripture here paints a picture of a specific type of person, one who has become completely obsessed with himself. He cares about nothing and no one. The only thing important to him is his own pleasure.
And yet, in the midst of the immorality, the violence, the hate, and the sin, this person still has a form of godliness. He still professes to be religious. He still calls himself a Christian. He still claims the Lord's salvation.
He may even study scripture, twisting it so that it lends support to his own brand of man-made religion, (Galatians 1:6,7) and may even have degrees and the respect of the religious community, and yet the Bible says that he will never be able to acknowledge the truth. In fact, he will oppose the truth.
This reminds me of a passage in Revelation, concerning the false apostle:
Revelation 13:11-17 - Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.
This false apostle will perform miracles, even causing fire to come down from heaven. Because of these miracles, he will deceive the world. He will have a form of godliness, while at the same time causing the whole world to worship the AntiChrist and take his evil mark.
Matthew 24:23-27 - At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time. 26 "So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Jesus said that many false Messiahs and many false apostles will come and even perform miracles. They will be so convincing that they would deceive even God's chosen people, if that were possible. They will have a form of godliness, but will be far from the Lord. (His elect cannot be deceived, because Jesus warned us that this would happen ahead of time, and we are watching not only for His return, but for the deception. Not only that, but Jesus told us to ignore reports that claim He has returned and is in the desert or in a building. When He returns, we will not need anyone to inform us of the fact, for He will be as visible as the lightning that streaks across the sky. Those in the west will see Him, as well as those who are in the east.)
Matthew 16:7-9 - You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"
We need to make sure that we have not fallen into the same situation as those Jesus spoke to in this passage. We also need to make sure that we do not become like them in the future.
Our desire should be that we worship the Lord with our lives and our actions, and our hearts; not with our lips alone. For if we worship the Lord with only words, we have only a form of godliness, and not the real thing.
We have seen that false Christs, and false apostles will be able to perform deceitful miracles. That means we may be able to do great things in the name of Jesus, and yet still only have a form of godliness.
Matthew 7:21-23 - "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
It becomes very important, then, to make sure that we have the full power of God, and not some counterfeit copy. How can we be sure of our salvation?
The key is to be active in our faith, and not to just profess our beliefs with our mouths.
We want the Lord to say to us, "Come, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world", don't we? The following passage explains how we can be sure of hearing these words from our Lord:
Matthew 25:34-46 - "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45 "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
The Lord gave an explanation to those who were found worthy of heaven, telling them why they were worthy. The answer was: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
These people were active in their faith. They did not stop at just voicing their beliefs. They put them into action. They did not just preach the gospel to others, they ministered to them the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Those who did not do these things were found worthy only of Hell, for when they did not minister to those who were the least deserving, they neglected Christ. And all the miracles and good things they ever did will count for exactly nothing on that day.
The Lord wants to see that we are doing what He told us to do.
Jesus told a parable illustrating that we are to be busy, putting our faith in action while He is away so that when He returns we will be found worthy of Him:
Luke 19:12-27 - He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'
14 "But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.'
15 "He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
16 "The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'
17 "'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'
18 "The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.'
19 "His master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.'
20 "Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.'
22 "His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?'
24 "Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.'
25 "'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!'
26 "He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them-bring them here and kill them in front of me.'"
The Master in this parable was Jesus. He has given us His Holy Spirit and instructed us to invest it in others. Those who obey, and minister to others will be called good servants. Those who do nothing with what they have been given, performing the spiritual equivalent of burying their inheritance in the ground, will be called wicked servants. The measure of Holy Spirit that they did have, will be taken from them and they will be destroyed.
These wicked servants will have had a form of godliness, but will actually oppose the truth by their disobedience. They will have received the Holy Spirit, and performed miracles, and prophesied, and yet they will be lost.
The Parable of the Virgins also illustrates this:
Matthew 25:1-13 - "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
7 "Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
9 "'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'
10 "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 "Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'
12 "But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
13 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
All ten of them were virgins, they were pure, they were God's called out ones. All ten of them had lamps; they obeyed the Lord's commands and went out to meet the bridegroom. All ten of them went to meet Him with oil in their lamps.
Only five were found worthy of entering into the bridegroom's banquet hall. The other five, even though they were virgins, and had lamps, and came to meet Him with oil, were left out in darkness. The Lord will tell them, "I don't know you."
When Jesus went throughout the countryside teaching the people, He did not stop at simply teaching them with words. He taught them with actions. He ministered to them. He fed them, He healed them, He cast out demons, He washed His disciples feet. He was a servant.
Jesus explained this lifestyle of being a servant quite explicitly, in Luke 22:25-30:
"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
He said that kings dominate, they manage, they rule, they command, and dictate to the people. He said that those in authority give themselves high-sounding titles.
Jesus said that while these things are so in the world, they are not to be so in His Kingdom. We are not to be like that. The greatest in His Kingdom will act as if he were the least, and anyone who rules, should do so by serving.
For Jesus, who owns the Kingdom, has served, not ruled. He went on to say that He will give unto us kingdoms, and we will one day be rulers over others, if we, also, have first been servants.
Let us not have a form of godliness, as the Pharisees did, but the heart of a servant and a shepherd.
There were once seven sons of a man named Sceva, who also had a form of godliness, but denied the power of the Lord.
Acts 19:13-16 - Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
This is a great illustration of the form of godliness. Sometimes people may be able to perform miracles, while having no true relationship with the Lord. Others won't even be able to pretend to have the power of God, such as these seven sons of Sceva.
Picture yourself back in medieval times. A King was the ultimate authority in his Kingdom. His word was law. If the King ordered something to be done, his command was obeyed, or else punishment would quickly follow.
Let's imagine that the King decided that a new city was to be built, and he put a young Knight in charge of the project, and gave him his full authority to get done whatever was necessary. The people would then have to obey the Knight, because he carried the authority of the King.
Let's move ahead six months, and the city is halfway completed. A particular Duke is angry that he must continue to provide materials and workers from his province for the Knight's construction project. He is irritated that he, a Duke, must take orders from this lowly Knight. He sees one day, that the Knight orders the Prince to travel to the neighboring Kingdom and arrange for ten more tons of granite to be purchased, worked, and transported to the city for the completion of the construction.
He is further angered that the authority of this Knight extends even to the Prince, and decides that if the Knight can order people around, so can he, and decides to bully the Bishop. Entering the church, he strides purposefully up to the Bishop and says, "Go to the city that the King is having built, and preach a message to the workers there, immediately!"
The Bishop says, "Who are you, to tell me what to do? Do you have the seal of the King on this order? Begone, before I call for the guards!"
The Duke, then hurries out of the church, red-faced, realizing that he just tried to order the Bishop around without the proper authority. He revises his plan, and returns to the Bishop the next day.
"By the authority of the King, which the Knight has, I order you to go to the city that the King is having built, and preach a message to the workers there, immediately!"
The Bishop replies, "The King I know and would obey, and the Knight I know to have the King's authority in this matter, but who are you to be coming in here and ordering me about in my own church?" Then he calls for the temple guards and has the Duke beaten up, and tossed into the street on his ear.
This is what the seven sons of Sceva did. They said, "We command you to come out, in the name of Jesus who Paul preaches". Jesus had given them no authority, and Paul had given them no authority. They simply claimed the authority which Paul had been given, and hoped that the devil wouldn't call their bluff, which he did.
They had a form of godliness, but no authority, and no power. They had no relationship with God. He was someone they had heard of, not someone they knew.
So many people want the good things of the Lord. They want His authority, they want His power, they want His blessings, and they want His approval. They reach for His hand, but reject His moral laws and His commands.
If you want to be found worthy when the Lord returns, you need to be found doing what He has told you to do.
All of us have different spiritual gifts, we all have different places in the Body of Christ, but one thing every last one of us has been told to do, is to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19,20)
We have been told to go. We have been told to minister to those who are the least deserving. We have been told to worship the Lord not just with our lips, but with our hearts.
Anyone who only serves the Lord with their lips will not be saved. Anyone who does not go to the lost and minister to their needs will not be saved, regardless of what miracles they may perform and regardless of the Holy Spirit that may live within them.
This means that if you are a preacher, and you spend all of your time simply preparing sermons, and proclaiming the gospel to others with your lips, you will fall into the category of those who will say unto the Lord one day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" If you do not put actions to your words, you will be left out in the darkness when the bridegroom comes, and will say, "Sir! Sir! Open the door for us!" But He will reply, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you."
This means that if you are content to soak up the wisdom of God, going to church, and keeping your faith personal and private, hiding your light under a bushel and keeping your salt in the shaker, then the Lord will one day say to you, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." Then He will say to His servants, "Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Notice that this person thrown into darkness, was called a servant, even by the Master. He served the Master, and yet was still thrown into Hell, because he did not minister to others.
Recall the conversation Jesus had with Peter: "Peter, do you love me? Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17)
We have been called to go! We have been called to put actions to our faith!
James 2:14-17 - What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
What good is it to say to someone who is depressed, "Be of good cheer!" and then to go on your way? What good is it to say to one who is naked, "Be clothed, and keep warm," and then to continue along the road? What good is it to say to one who is starving, "The Lord is good! Depend on him and be fed!"
One who only has faith, but no actions to accompany them, is dead.
We all have different places in the Body of Christ. One may be a hand, another a foot, and yet another an eye, but we are all in the same body, the Body of Christ. We are not in many different bodies, but we are in one body. (Romans 12:4,5; 1st Corinthians 10:17; 12:12; Ephesians 4:4)
The body has been commanded to go! The body has been commanded to act, not to remain in suspended animation, or cryogenic sleep.
But if the hand and the foot attempt to obey, and move forward, while the eye and the leg refuse to budge, the body becomes torn in two! And the parts which obey and move forward remain the Body of Christ, while the parts which did not move, end up out of the body, and die. They are no longer the Body of Christ, they are no longer the Church. They may still have a form of godliness, but they are dead.
On the other hand, (no pun intended) if the hand moves forward at the same time the foot moves forward, and the eye moves forward, and the leg moves forward, and all of the parts of the body move forward, then the Body moves forward!
The Body is in unity, it is at peace with one another, and it is about the Father's business!
How can we be sure that we are saved? Some would say that all you need to do is obey the Acts 2:38 message, and continue to walk with the Lord. However, the Bible teaches that you are also to walk with others, instructing them in the way of righteousness, and ministering to them. Put actions to your faith! Be about the Father's business!
Use the Lord's example as a pattern and a starting point, and then find out for yourself what else you can do, and how else you can minister to others:
Matthew 25:34-36 - 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Obey Acts 2:38. Repent, be baptized in the Name of Jesus, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then, feed the hungry, satisfy the thirsty, shelter the stranger, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, and visit the prisoner.
Put actions to your faith! This is how you can be sure of your salvation!
Chad J. McCoy
Dark Savant Ministries
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