“… BUT DENYING ITS POWER”
Today we completed Paul’s 2nd letter to his “son in the faith” Timothy. He deplores what he sees the future is going to hold for believers; a serious decline of faith and a Christ-like way of living. As Paul looks into the future “the Spirit” gives him a ‘picture’ of what is going to develop in “the last days.” [3 v.1]
Paul of course has no idea as to how far off this future time is. But the description of this ‘time’ that is revealed to him has a specific focus on the condition of believers: they “will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power” [v.4,5].
The word “power” is the Gk word dunamis, it does not necessarily refer to something miraculous, earlier this month we saw Paul use it twice in his first chapter in writing to the Colossians, ”may you be strengthened with all power” [v.11] “… I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” [v.29]
Believers need real energy of mind – and the real pursuit of godliness generates such power – spiritual strength of mind. Paul told the Corinthians that the Lord said to him as he struggled with a divinely given “thorn in the flesh”, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” [2 Cor. 12 v.9]
Paul then adds, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” This is not power in the sense of miracle working, but inner strength developed through the reality of our relationship with our Lord and the Father. We read 2 days ago how Paul told Timothy, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” [ch. 1 v.7]
Back to chapter 3; we are aware how true Paul’s prediction has been throughout history that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go from bad to worse. But as for you (and us!) continue in what you have learned and firmly believed … how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred scriptures … breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” [v.12-14,16] May we increase our zeal for the Holy Scriptures and develop a greater “spirit .. ofpower and love and self-control” as we complete our “training in righteousness”.