I've read some commentaries that explain who these people were in the times of Jesus but can you give some examples this scripture would refer to today. (other than the the easy ones, JW's and Mormon).
2 Timothy 3:5
ESV - 5 Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
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The Most common and surest indicator is that they water down the deity of Jesus Christ. There are many verses that refer to power, but I believe Romans 1:16 nails it. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (The gospel of Christ is the "power" of God that produces salvation.) There are many preachers, evangelists, teachers and whole denominations who have a form of godliness, who promote good works, talk about God, tell you to love your fellow man, be obedient, follow Jesus, etc. Etc. Sure, this is commendable but without salvation which is by grace through faith, hell is inevitable. Many believe in Jesus but which Jesus? I understand there are a few thousand with the same name in Mexico but they can't save us. I believe in George Washington too but he can't save us either. Oh yes, these guys look good on the outside but they are no different from the Pharisees Christ addressed in Matthew 22:27 "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." Matthew 23:15 "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." Then there are the televangelists who for a few hundred in "faith seed" will heal your disease, dilemma or financial woes over the television. Consider the poor widow in Mark 12. Most think Christ was commending her because she cast in all she had but if you read it in context it is an entirely different story. Mark 12:38 "And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces," v.39 "And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:" v.40 "Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation." v.41 "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much." v.42 "And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing." v.43 "And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:" v.44 "For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." Case in point. In v. 43 Christ called his disciples over to show them a "real world" example of what he had just stated in the previous verses. Sound familiar? They do the same today preying on the elderly, less fortunate and those with social and domestic issues. However, some have traded in their long robes for private jets, mansions and big bank accounts. Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
These are individuals or groups which have a superficial "Christianity".On the surface they seem to profess Christ but their doctrines and practices are contrary to Biblical standards. The best example are folks sitting in our "Churches" who simply call themselves believers but do not follow what Christ has commanded. Do we attempt to live with a philosophy of Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last?
Today many churches measure their success by attendance, membership, and baptisms. The pressure to increase membership and revenue often lead church leaders to be more preoccupied with theatrical performances and entertaining the masses rather than preaching the gospel (1 Corinthians 2:2). Afraid to offend anyone, some preachers are reluctant to point out the sin among its members. The need to repent and surrender to the Holy Spirit is being replaced by uplifting, feelgood messages (2 Timothy 4:3, 4). Examples: Emphasizing grace but downplaying the need for repentance and a changed life (Matthew 4:17; Luke 3:8; Romans 12:1, 2) Doubting the power of Christ to keep us from sin (Galatians 5:16-25; Romans 6:6, 11) Teaching people that worldly prosperity and earthly happiness is evidence of God’s blessing (Colossians 3:5, 6)
I believe that almost all churches today deny the power of Christ's message. Jesus said that powerful signs will follow those who believe: Mark 16:17-18 King James Version (KJV) 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. He also said that we could do the mighty works that He did and even greater works than He did. He rebuked the disciples for not using the faith that He gave them. Today, many denominations are built on a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. They say that the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today. Paul said that he thanked God that he spoke in tongues more than "you all." He corrected them for doing it too much in a church service, but he indicated that using it to edify himself and build up his faith was crucial. The devil works against speaking in tongues more than anything else today. He doesn't want us to build ourselves up as strong Christians. He wants us to remain weak and bound to our carnal flesh rather than walking in the Spirit.
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