An Appearance of Godliness: Case Studies in Evil (Part 2)

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.

This is the second installment in this series – which is going to have quite a few installments before we are finished. As I mentioned last time, my intent is to end up compiling these posts, including many of your comments and insights, into a book by the same title – An Appearance of Godliness.

The Apostle Paul warns us here that the last days, that is, the church age in which we live and which will terminate with the return of Christ, is not going to be an easy time for Christ’s true people to live in. There will come times of difficulty.  But the difficulties Paul had in mind are not things like economic downturns, pandemics, car crashes, or broken water lines. No.

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Don’t be One of These False Prophets Promising False Peace

“For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 6:13-15)

The false prophets of Jeremiah’s day kept announcing “peace and prosperity and God’s blessing on everyone” even though the thing was a fallacy. They minimized the seriousness of what was the real cause of troubles among them: “They have healed the wound of my people lightly.” They didn’t acknowledge the depth of their evil and be ashamed. They were arrogant.

I would suggest to you that this kind of thinking and utterance is characteristic of an evil heart. And I will suggest something else to you. Namely, that all of the minimizing and discounting of abuse victims in the “church” by leaders and members is a plain example of the very same cry of “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. There is NO peace in the victim’s life because her abuser is at war with her. But what is she met with when she calls for help?  “You exaggerate.” They pronounce peace, you see, when there is no peace.

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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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