“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
I remember when my brother, at about the age of 13 decided to become an amateur magician. He worked diligently on his “bag of tricks.” I don’t think he ever performed for anyone but his close friends, but I did learn one important lesson from his brief pursuit. All of the illusions performed by magicians are simply that, they are illusions. Magicians do not have any special power to make a person levitate or saw a woman in half and then put her back together again unharmed.
Magicians appear to have power, but they do not!
This may be too harsh a criticism, but I think that there are lots of “Houdini” Christians in the community of believers. They appear to have the power of God in their lives, but they do not. They live and work by their own human power and credit God for the things He neither led them to do nor empowered them to accomplish. Like a good magician these believers appear to be displaying God’s power, but it is an illusion.
Then there are those who appear to be godly, but deny that there is power for those who are. Godliness for them is simply “keeping the rules.” They believe godliness is what you do, not what you are. These people have no power to overcome the issues that plague their lives so they must constantly be on guard to conceal what is really the condition of their inner man.
They struggle to keep the outside of the pitcher clean while the inside grows more and more corrupt. Then one day there is a crack in the pitcher and everything falls apart. The world points their finger at another example of the hypocrisy that keeps them from knowing Jesus.
These verses in 2 Timothy clearly say that there are two parts to godliness: form and power. Having the form without the power leaves you almost certainly on the road to becoming a moral failure before the whole world. Having the power of God in your life without the form is not possible.
When a race team enters a car in the Indianapolis 500 they are always concerned about how the car looks. But if they pay no attention to the power plant, the car will most certainly lose the race.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, be sure that the godliness in your life has both form and power! These terrible times demand it.