There are many people in this world who are religious. Who go to church, a mosque, a synagogue, a shrine, or a temple. They perform religious rituals, praying, reading their sacred scriptures, and perhaps even giving up some of their money. And yet, though they may look pious, they are rejected by God.
Why? Because though they may have the form of godliness, that’s all it is. The outward appearance of godliness, empowered by their own efforts or even hypocrisy. And all the while these people deny the power of God himself in their lives.
Some deny it by denying God himself. They turn away from the truth that is found in Jesus Christ. They follow instead the teachings of Buddha, Muhammad, or other religious leaders. But while these people may have some truth or some good interspersed with these teachings, they deny Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father. All the righteousness they may have are mere filthy rags to God because they have denied his Son and reject the cross upon which he died. More, they deny the resurrection power that could transform them and bring true righteousness into their lives.
Others claim to be Christians. They claim to follow Christ. But it is a mere charade. For they are actually, “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 God.” (2-4)
They too have the form of godliness. They go to church. They smile and sing and pray and tithe. But their lives are an empty shell, devoid of the power of God in their lives.
Some of these people are teachers. But Paul compares them to Jannes and Jambres, the two magicians that opposed Moses in Egypt. They boasted great power from their gods, but their claims proved empty when confronted with the living God.
Others are are “learners.” But because they never come to the truth because they have already rejected it. They hear only what they want to hear, and filter everything else out.
You cannot claim true godliness when you have rejected Jesus Christ himself. And you cannot claim true godliness when all you have is a religious show that has no effect on your heart.
Paul said the time was coming, terrible times, when more and more people will be like this. We are here. We are in those times. All you have to do is to look at the world around us and you’ll know it’s true.
And when Jesus comes, he will separate the wheat from the tares. He will separate those who have the mere form of godliness from those who are truly his own, who are day by day being transformed by the power of God into his likeness.
When he comes, what will he find in you?