Form Versus Substance

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, without self-control, brutal, 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. (2 Timothy 3:1–5, NIV 1984). 

My Musings – I read the above text and have a hard time not believing that we are nearing the climax of the last days.  It is so descriptive of society today.  Not all, maybe not even most, but I don’t like the downward trajectory that I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Then I get to the part where it says “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” I don’t know about you, but there doesn’t seem to be even the shadow of a form of godliness in what Paul has just described.  At least not godliness with a “big” G, and clearly no substance of Godliness.  The closest I can come to grips with this is how I see the accelerating dilution of the inward substance of Godliness with an ever increasing degree of worldliness being mingled in, while trying to maintain the outward form of godliness.  It’s not hard to see the compromises of God’s moral laws in society at large, but also within many churches.

Then there is the clause “but denying its power.”  What exactly is the power of Godliness?  It is the Gospel.  I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16–17, NIV 1984).

And what is the Gospel? For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, NIV 1984) and, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV 1984).  Once upon a time this was nearly universally accepted in the Western world.  Now, more and more have bought into the lie that there are many paths to God, denying the power of the Gospel of Christ.

For example — As Christians, we find spiritual awakening, challenge, growth, and fulfillment in Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. While we have accepted the Path of Jesus as our Path, we do not deny the legitimacy of other paths God may provide humanity. Where possible, we seek lively dialog with those of other faiths for mutual benefit and fellowship. We affirm that the Path of Jesus is found wherever love of God, neighbor, and self are practiced together. Whether or not the path bears the name of Jesus, such paths bear the identity of Christ. We confess that we have stepped away from Christ’s Path whenever we have failed to practice love of God, neighbor, and self, or have claimed Christianity is the only way, even as we claim it to be our way. (progressivechristianity.org).

This is a “powerful delusion.” For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one  [the Holy Spirit] who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:6–12, NIV 1984). 

My Advice – What is your truth? Is it the Gospel, “the power of God?”  Or is it a “powerful delusion” “having a form of godliness but denying its power?”  If I were you I would “have nothing to do with them.

Author: thebrewisamusing

I was raised in a Christian family and my earliest childhood memories include regular Sunday school and Church attendance as a family. I was taught that our Judeo-Christian values were not just a part of our Sunday routine they should be part of our character and influence all aspects of our lives. I was also taught that as important as these values were they could not save us. We must also be “born again” by accepting Christ.

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