2 Timothy 3:5
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Note 22 at 2Ti 3:5: HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS, BUT DENYING THE POWER THEREOF: This is the nineteenth characteristic Paul listed that would be prevalent in the last days. The people Paul mentioned are very religious, but their religion is only a "form." The Greek word for "form" here is "MORPHOSIS," and it means a semblance, an outward shape, appearance, or silhouette. There is no reality to their religion. This fits many people today.
The word "power" was translated from the Greek word "DUNAMIS." Here, it refers to the "power which those who only have an outward semblance of piety toward God and not the inward reality, refuse to allow access to their lives that they might be saved" (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, Volume 2, p. 145). This is the same word that Jesus used in referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Ac 1:8. Therefore, this includes, but is not limited to, those who refuse the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
From such hypocrites Timothy was told to turn away. This raises a very common and hard-to-answer question: Do believers separate themselves from those who deny the true power of the Gospel? Millions of true Christians are staying in powerless churches in an effort to change them. How does this fit with Paul's instruction here?
There are no perfect churches or people. If we found the perfect church, they wouldn't let us join lest they cease to be perfect. Certainly, there is plenty of room for extending grace to our fellow believers and churches, yet there has to be a dividing line between what is acceptable and what cannot be tolerated that would fit into Paul's admonition to "turn away."
In Ac 19:8-9, there is a personal example from the life of Paul where he separated the disciples from those who denied the power of the Gospel. This was in Ephesus. When Paul first arrived there, he went into the Jewish synagogue and preached boldly for three months. But when some of the Jews hardened their hearts and began to speak evil of Paul's way, he separated those who believed and moved into the school of Tyrannus, ministering there for two years.
There were a number of times Paul told his followers to withdraw from ungodly people: Ro 16:17, 1Co 5:11, 2Th 3:6, and 1Ti 6:5. The Apostle John also did the same thing in 2Jo 10.
As long as those in the synagogue were open, Paul stayed and shared the Gospel, but when they opposed what he was saying, Paul left and took all the disciples with him. Therefore, we can say that if there is opposition to the message we share, we should turn away. If there is hunger for our message, then we can stay.
The synagogues of Paul's day allowed visitors and members of the congregation to minister, as portrayed in Ac 13:5. Most churches today don't give anyone but the pastor and invited ministers this authority. Therefore, members of the congregation don't really have the opportunity to greatly influence the church as Paul did. It takes a miracle and a mighty working of the Lord's power for pastors to change their churches. It will not happen through members of the congregation. Any congregational members of a dead church should turn away and go where they can be fed and make a contribution.
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