Yesterday I talked about 2 Timothy 3 and modern Christianity’s propensity to ignore power and live in the flesh pretending to be with Jesus. I quoted a verse, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” to describe the problem. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the whole verse. It gets worse.
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
OK, well, if I wasn’t in trouble yesterday, I will be today!
The only thing that can make my diatribe of the last two days worse is to drop church discipline into the mix. Paul seems pretty fed up at this point. He’s about to die, he’s done, he’s run his race, but he is concerned for the Church and he sees what’s coming.
What is the response of the Christian to the false professing Christian?
Paul says we’re supposed to leave them. To “turn away” means to um, turn away. Leave. Paul said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 5 that we shouldn’t even eat with them.
Church discipline reminds most people of legalism. It reminds you of the red-faced elders standing around the cowering adulteress condemning her. Yup, and that’s why the church is what it is today–a gathering of people who want to feel good about being bad.
But true Christianity doesn’t want you to feel good about being bad. It wants you to 1) feel bad about being bad so you cry out for salvation and then 2) wants you to feel good about being good because Christ is at work in you and you are working out what He has worked in.
Those who want to play games with this and want to continue willful, rebellious sin and still talk about God need to be confronted and possibly, according to Paul, avoided altogether.
2 Timothy 3 contains some of Paul’s last words to us, there’s no further revelation coming to make what he said here not true. Paul knows that Christianity will devolve into a mess, just like OT Jewishness did. They were given so much, yet they chucked it to feel good about their sin and there was nothing left for them but judgment.
Love steps in and warns a person, tells them they’re going the wrong way. If the person does not listen, the only safe thing is to avoid them. It’s a sad thing. Church discipline is never something to be done with joy or pleasure. It comes with tears as you watch yet another person chuck eternity with God for temporal pleasure.