2 Timothy 3.5 states’ “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” Paul here is saying that these people, who he discussed previously in the chapter (2 Timothy 3.1-4), would consider themselves religious people. They would say to themselves that they were “Christians” and may even appear to be Christian in outward appearances. However; they are not true Christians, for they have never experienced the power of God in their lives. They would have a false religion, a false Christianity. While they said that they were “saved” they would not have the appreciation of salvation demonstrated in their lives. Going to church once or twice a year, or some may even go every Sunday, but there is no ministry showing in their lives. No love for the brotherhood of the church. No compassion for the poor or the widows.
Like the Pharisees that Jesus rebuked in Mathew 23:27 when he said “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye ae full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” They are just acting a part and not really living in the Spirit of God. Jesus further explained the root of the problem in Matthew 15:8 when he said that people draw close to God and worship Him with their lips, but there is no real love there for Him, they worship in vain because they have no substance in believing or honoring God for who He is. The way they live their private lives is a testimony against them.
Their language and attitude would be a big indicator of their spiritual walk. These are the signs listed in 2 Timothy: covetousness, boasters, proud, disobedient to parents, unthankful, without natural affection, incontinent, fierce, despisers of good, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, and unholy. Now there is a time period where change has to happen, where the mind has to be renewed, and the Spirit of the Lord chastises and reproves. So we dare not put ourselves in place of God and judge any man. For who knows the hearts of men, except God. Paul is just warning us, that there are those who are out there and we should be aware.
Paul warns us from these people, even if they call themselves Christians, TURN AWAY from them. Do not associate with them, they are false brethren. The issue with these people who profess to be Christians and do not live a Christian lifestyle is that they will cause divisions and draw away others from the central focus of Christ. We do not live GOOD lives to gain salvation from Christ, rather we do “good” because we are being changed from the inside outward, from the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling in the true believer. It is the Spirit of God that enables us to love one another.
Contrary to what Paul described as signs of false believers, if we walk in the Spirit and it dwells within us then there are certain things that should be evident in our lives. These signs are referred to as fruits of the Spirit. We find these things should be evident in our lives if we are walking in the Spirit of God, who comes to dwell within us once we have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ. We should see love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. With believers whom we see these signs, we should have fellowship. But above all, pray for one another.