A New Series: An Appearance of Godliness – Case Studies in Evil

I have the outline of a new book sitting here on my desk, which I never seem to have time to get started on. So I thought what I would do is write it here with a weekly installment, and have you all provide your observations and comments and thereby…help me write the book!

Here is the central theme scripture the book title is drawn from and which is really a statement of the purpose of the book:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV  But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  (2)  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  (3)  heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,  (4)  treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  (5)  having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Most all of the wicked people I have had to deal with as a pastor, in the church, were this very kind of person. They had the appearance of godliness, but they denied its power. Let’s see if we can think through what this means.

Paul told Timothy, and us, that the “last days,” that is, the church age in which we live, will be difficult times. Difficult for whom? For people like Timothy. For genuine Christians. For people who really have been born again. The times will not be so difficult for the worldling, but for the godly it is going to be a struggle.

Why?

Because of evil. Because of evil people. Because of people like this:

    • Lovers of self
    • Lovers of money
    • Proud and arrogant
    • Abusive
    • Disobedient to parents
    • Ungrateful
    • Unholy
    • Heartless
    • Unappeasable
    • Slanderous
    • Without self-control
    • Brutal
    • Not loving good
    • Treacherous
    • Reckless
    • Swollen with conceit
    • Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God

We could spend a lot of time, with considerable profit, going through that list one by one and thinking about how those particular evil qualities work themselves out all around us. Those of you who have experienced domestic violence will recognize your abuser in many, if not all, of these traits.

But what I want to focus on in this study is that last “punch line” characteristic that I believe Paul is saying is the most evil of all – having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Let’s just think about that description a bit.

What does it mean to “have the appearance of godliness”? Well, it means to be a counterfeit. It describes a person who in fact walks in the evils in the preceeding list but who wears a disguise of godliness. Who puts on a mask – and a very convincing one – of being someone who knows God. A wolf in wool if you will. Someone who claims to be a Christian and who appears, outwardly, to be a Christian.

But it is just an “appearance.” And as they say, appearances can be deceptive. What appears to be, often is not. I like to put it this way – Not all Christians are.

What this also tells us is that the most dangerous kind of enemy we face is this kind – the kind who wears this “godliness” mask. The man or woman who is just the finest church member, the eminently “holy” one, the pillar of the church. That kind of person who expends constant energy “keeping up apprearances,” deceiving and being deceived. They are most dangerous because they are the most deceptive. They work to get next to us. To gain our trust. And all the while they are working behind the scenes to destroy Christ’s true people, His true church, and His ministry. That diabolical list of evils Paul gives us here, in other words, are not practiced openly and plainly by these kind of creeps. Most people would be shocked and offended if you ever tried to reveal to them just who these wicked ones really are. (Note: I use the term “creeps” because Jude warns us that they “creep in among us.”) An appearance of godliness, you see.

In the next installment in this series, I want to talk more about what a denial of the power of godliness is. That is what these people do and it is what they are. By their life and their words, they deny something that is apparently central to what Paul calls “godliness.” What does this mean? We need to find out.

Finally, by way of further introducing this series, let me tell  you about how I plan to go about it. After making some initial observations about our central theme – an appearance of godliness – I want to actually flesh this subject out by introducing you one by one to “case studies in evil.” That is to say, I want to write descriptions of this kind of counterfeit in the church who you can expect to meet.

I know this, because I have met them.

8 thoughts on “A New Series: An Appearance of Godliness – Case Studies in Evil

  1. Thank you for all of your work. Your series on evil gave me such clarity! They were a life saver. If not for your work, I would have eventually been worn down by my church and their counselors and my family members, and I would have taken my children and gone back to “him”. And we’d be dead.

    If you’re saying you would like those of us with stories to help write this book, like so many others, I’ve got a story to tell if it would help.

    May God continue to bless your ministry! Love it!

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    1. Yep! That is what I mean. I want you to tell your stories or even parts of them and I will include as many as I can in the book.

      Thank you!!!

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  2. Gleaning from others’ experience and insights will almost certainly help you to cement your thoughts. No doubt you will receive a lot of support for your new endeavor from all of us here!

    It really is stunning how we are so often instructed to give wicked people the benefit of the doubt by people who should know better. It’s long past time to elevate righteousness and justice to their rightful place within the body of Christ.

    I have every confidence that your new book will be well worth reading – and sharing.

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  3. I am grateful beyond words for this timely series. There are not many places where you can get this kind of truth. It affirms all that I’ve been through for 65 years. You were one of the first to open my eyes to the wolves I had so unwittingly protected and had been so loyal to. In return I received only abuse and smearing. It took years but God rescued me. To him be the glory. Again Thanks for the timely message.

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  4. May God bless you in every way, as you work on this book – I think this is the greatest blindness in the so-called church, amongst the very “nicest” of people. I struggled in private, for 45 years in a very difficult marriage and finally spoke to some pastors in 2019 – they were so kind and patient, but I was utterly traumatised by them as they treated my husband and I as equal sinners and supported his covert abuse of me, because they couldn’t discern the spirit behind it. My husband was raised Catholic and learned how to be a deceitful altar boy, and he was a pastor, outwardly, for several years. After I told the pastor how I was being treated, they still asked him to preach. We are separated and he has gone back to the catholic “church,” which just shows me that he did not love Jesus Christ, although he mocked and berated me many, many times when I tried to share “my” Jesus and Holy Spirit with Him. I have been blessed so much in the past 2 years by many ministers of the truth, in this specific area, yourself more than anyone else – what an education! I pray that He will use this forum that you’re embarking upon, to bring Christ’s Light to many souls. Thank you so much. ✝️

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