S53P7 – A picture of temptation: no great pretenders

2 Tim. 3:1-5

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

She was new to this youth group and sincerely desired to develop a close relationship with God.  Not knowing much about Jesus or the bible, she was drawn to the kids who seemed to know the most.  One girl in particular appeared impossibly holy, so she struck up a conversation and began to develop a friendship with her.  Before long, the teachings strayed from God’s truths to what an adolescent mind might prefer to be true.  Instead of seeking his holiness through obedience, she was taught to seek her own desires and rely on mercy above self-control and the desire to please her heavenly Father.  Their appearance of holiness masked an ever-increasing deprivation behind closed doors.  They rejected the power of obedience and repentance to bring them true freedom.

No one likes a fraud.  What we desire in relationship with others is genuine character even if it is not the holiest character.  The humility with which God commands us to live requires this kind of transparency. We know that we are not to continue sinning simply so that grace may abound.  Unfortunately, falling to temptation and getting caught up in habitual sin can lead us to wearing a false mask of holiness.  While we may be able to deceive those around us, we cannot deceive God.  He knows which hearts truly desire to obey and serve him.  Just like we seek genuine people in relationship, our Father in heaven expects that from us in our relationships with him as well.  It is for us to overcome the challenge and walk in holiness.  If we truly desire to follow God, we will desire to walk in his power to overcome temptation.

Today’s scripture tells us to avoid those who lack self-control and who profess to walk in God’s power without actually doing so.  We must understand the gravity of this scripture.  This is telling us that we are not to have fellowship with those who are merely pretending to be walking with God.  If there is no room for such people in his Church, there is no room for such people in his kingdom.  Our response to temptation, and our desire to walk through the trial faithfully, indicate whether we are truly living for God.  It should be our sincere desire to overcome and not merely accept sin as a foregone conclusion, resting on perpetual mercy without true repentance.  Let us examine ourselves to make sure we are walking in a genuine desire to overcome sin.  Father, shine your light on us and expose those areas that we mask with false holiness, that we would truly walk in your power of freedom.