I appreciated the following article from Dane Ortlund. Take a moment to examine your own life, run to Jesus and set your course to pursue true godliness.
What does “godliness” look like to you?
Here’s what 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says it will, at times, look like:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their 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, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Fantastically faking it
Let the significance of this for your church, your small group, your marriage, and your own soul wash over you. Our capacity for deceiving others, even deceiving ourselves, is great.
- You can be a lover of self, and it has the appearance of godliness
- You can be a lover of money, and it has the appearance of godliness
- You can be proud and arrogant and it looks like godliness
- You can be ungrateful, unholy, and slanderous, looking like godliness
We could say it another way:
- You can be a lover of self, and it looks like selflessness
- You can be a lover of money, all the while giving the appearance of generosity
- You can be proud and arrogant and it comes across as humility
- You can be ungrateful and unholy and it can masquerade as gratitude and holiness
And so on.
Men and women can be wicked to the core, and it all has the illusory veneer of godliness. Such people are “evil people and impostors...deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13).
Fake-it-til-you-make-it is not a biblical view of the Christian life.
Observations in the pursuit of actual godliness
- As we look at others, things may not be as they seem. The call here is not to a culture of suspicious scrutiny but of sober realism. A tree is known by its fruit, and some “fruit” is rotten, despite having the appearance of health (Genesis 3:6).
- The litany of evil of 2 Timothy 3 describes people in church. Pagans don’t have the appearance of godliness. Conclusion: Don’t look outside the church to apply 2 Timothy 3. Look inside the church. Even at yourself.
- “Avoid such people” (v. 5). When you see godless godliness in people, avoid them. Be kind, be civil, but avoid them.
- As we seek to grow in grace, be wary of focusing energy on how we come across instead of what we are. The slavish addiction to maintain appearances will lead us further and further away from God. We must resist the temptation to cultivate external rather than internal godliness. Fake-it-til-you-make-it is not a biblical view of the Christian life.
Jesus Died for Religious Fakers
As Paul said in the previous chapter of this letter: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13). We will, every day, be hypocritical in some way. Our creed outpaces our behavior.
The liberation of the gospel is admission of failure, not a veneer of success. Jesus died for the men and women whose appearance of godliness outstrips their actual godliness—and who know it. For those who repent, he bore on the cross the penalty for every subtle attempt to look godly rather than be godly.
Being wise regarding others and taking off our own religious masks, let’s pursue real godliness.