Today we completed Paul’s second letter to his “son in the faith” Timothy. He deplores what he sees the future is going to hold for believers; a serious decline of faith and Christ-like living. As Paul looks to the future he has a picture of what is going to develop in “the last days” (3:1). Paul has no idea as to how far away this future time is. But the description of this period has a specific focus on the condition of believers: they “will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power” (verses 4,5).
The word “power” is the Greek word dunamis. It does not necessarily refer to something miraculous. Paul uses it twice in his first chapter to the Colossians; “may you be strengthened with all power” (verse 11) “… I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (verse 29).
Believers need real energy of mind – and the real pursuit of godliness generates such power – spiritual strength of mind. Paul told the Corinthians that the Lord said to him as he struggled with a divinely given “thorn in the flesh”, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Paul then adds, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”. This is not power in the sense of miracle working, but inner strength developed through the reality of our relationship with our Lord and the Father. Paul told Timothy, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (1:7).
Back in chapter 3; we are aware how true Paul’s prediction has been throughout history that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go from bad to worse. But as for you (and us!) continue in what you have learned and firmly believed … how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred scriptures … breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (verses 12-14,16). May we increase our zeal for the Holy scriptures and develop a greater “spirit … of power and love and self-control” as we complete our “training in righteousness”.
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