Have you ever noticed that people who start spending a lot of time together often begin to share the same sayings, mannerisms, and expressions?
They will even start to laugh in a similar way. People have the ability to influence those around them, especially those with whom they closely associate. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes it is inconsequential. But sometimes there are people we need to avoid because their influence is spiritually dangerous.
Before we get any further, let me address a confusing phrase. Some of us might be thrown off by the phrase “in the last days.” It can sound like this is a reference to a time in the distant future. But in the New Testament the “lastly days” refers to the time between Christ’s resurrection and his second coming. We are in the last days of God’s work of redemption.
So, Paul is referring to now. Now, in the church today, there are people who say they are believers but are not, and they eventually prove themselves to be only superficially religious. Even Paul was dealing with these kinds of people. They were bringing into the church ungodly beliefs, attitudes, and conduct. Let’s take a look at one of the key qualities often found in such people.
The first one that is mentioned is that some of the people in Timothy’s congregation were lovers of self. When the center of one’s life is self, a host of other sins set up home in the heart. Selfishness can bring with it a love of materials things, pride, and arrogance (vs.2). Self-centeredness causes people to be abusive and heartless (vs. 3), with little to no regard for others.
But the worst part is that there is an appearance of godliness (vs.5). They know the right things to say on Sundays or in a group of Christians. They wrap themselves in a cloak of godliness but underneath there is decay. They are quick to slander, gossip, and criticize. There is a lack of self control in their speech and in their conduct. And for the most part, they are not convinced that what they are doing is wrong.
Paul tells Timothy and us that we are not to associate with these kinds of people. But let’s make sure we understand what Paul is NOT saying. He is NOT telling us to avoid ungodly people outside of the church. Jesus ate and hung out with some of the worst sinners. He showed them love and kindness, calling sin, “sin”, but always pointing to forgiveness. We are to be in the world but not of it. This means we will and should associate with the non-Christians around us so we can love them and show them the grace that God offers in Christ.
What Paul is saying is that we are to beware about associating with those who call themselves “Christians” but whose lives contradict the Word of God and make a mockery of His Word by ignoring what God calls sin.
For you and me, this means that we need to be strong. We need to be strong in what we believe and why we believe it. We need to be strong in our convictions about what is right and wrong; about what is acceptable and what is not. We need to be strong so we can stand up for truth and goodness. We need to be strong so that we can be the influencers instead of being influenced by ungodly behavior. This all means we must be strong in the Lord, for that is the only way we can resist the influence of ungodliness.
Looking To Jesus,
Week 6 Challenge: Honestly examine yourself and answer these questions: In what areas of your life are you prone to be influenced in an ungodly way? Who or what influences you and how can you resist that influence? Who or what influences you in a godly way? How can you seek out more godly influence in your life?
Week 6 Reading Plan:
Week 6 Memory Verse:
We’re in Week 6 of our 1 & 2 Timothy study! You can find our women’s and corresponding kids’ journals here: