Isn’t it remarkable how often we look at others in order to gauge how we are doing? As we look around the church we can see an awful lot that is not good: selfish people, the money hungry, proud, arrogant, even the downright abusive and unholy – what an ugly bunch of people to worship with! “Surely that’s the world and not the church”, you say! 2 Timothy 3:5 tells us that these have the appearance of godliness, but deny it’s power – not overtly, but by their godless behaviour. So, what do we do? Give up and leave them to it? Of course not! That would be to let the devil gain a victory.
What does Paul say to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:10?
We’re looking in the wrong place for direction if we’re looking to those around us. In the light of a godless church, look at the the godly: the saints of scripture. Paul held up his own life as an example to the young man Timothy, and said: don’t look at the godlessness around you, look at me: my faith, my teaching, my conduct, my goals, my determination to live a godly life among the godless.
This isn’t the easy path, it will set you against the natural flow of life, even in our churches – expect persecution – that’s the evidence of the right path. Imposters will continue – that’s the promise that especially in the church the enemy is active, and actively working against God’s people.
There’s only one solution – not matter what the difficulty, no matter what situation you face:
“But, as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” 2 Timothy 3:14
The only path to godliness, to growth, to genuine church life is to continue in the one thing: God’s Word, as we have learned it, as we have believed, knowing that only God’s Word is guaranteed to be of value. “So shall my Word be that goes forth from my mouth, it shall not return to me empty.” God tells us through Isaiah.
Whatever the situation you face today, whether it be a personal crisis of faith or a church that seems to be running headlong into worldliness there’s only one solution and it involves you and God alone. Go back to the roots of your faith: God’s Word that you have already believed, those saints who God has brought into your life. Whatever you do, don’t expect the solution to come from someone else.
But, as for you, continue in what you have learned: the word translated as ‘continue’ means to remain, to abide, to dwell in. This isn’t an academic exercise, this is an active placing of ourselves into God’s Word, saturating ourselves in what God has already said to us, what we have already learned. We all need to have a dwelling place, a home, a place to abide – for you, for me, the only place to abide is in that which we have learned from God and have believed firmly. Abide there and you will find life, hope, help and the way forward for your soul.