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.

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Judgment of the Wicked is Part of the Gospel

1 Timothy 1:8-11 ESV  Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,  (9)  understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers,  (10)  the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,  (11)  in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

What is the gospel? Most professing Christians would say that it is a simple, short sentence. Something like: “Jesus died for your sins on the cross and if you believe in Him as your Savior, you will go to heaven.”

But I can remember, even many years ago, wrestling with this question – “just what is the gospel?”  And I can tell you that the answer cannot be condensed down into 25 words or less.

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Most Professing Christians Tell Christ What to Teach

…though he [Nicodemus] had in general owned Christ to be divine teacher, yet he was unwilling to receive his teachings when they did not agree with the notions he had imbibed. Thus many people who claim to be Christians profess to accept the doctrine of Christ in general, and yet will neither believe the truths of Christianity nor submit to the laws of it further than they please. Christ shall be their teacher, provided they may choose their lesson. [Matthew Henry]

Need I say more than Matthew Henry has stated here? This is truth. Most supposed Christians insist on choosing the lesson and thus limit the topic only to subjects and doctrines they like. In other words, they really don’t know Christ at all because they exemplify Paul’s words to the Corinthians-

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