2 Timothy 3:5
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
This form is a profession of religion; the outward appearance of piety; the external performance of holy duties. Its power is the inward experience of its saving efficacy; that is attested by a holy, heavenly walk. This power is denied, not merely by the declaration of the lips, but by all those actions which are inconsistent with it, and which prove that we do not feel its influence.
I. A FORM OF GODLINESS IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY IF WE WOULD BE SAVED. We are unequivocally commanded to assume the form of godliness; to testify by external acts our allegiance to the Lord; and to attend on those ordinances and sacraments which He surely did not appoint that we might with impunity neglect them. Say not that you secretly and in your hearts worship and love Him. It is impossible that there should be internal piety without some outward manifestation of it. If "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, with the lips confession will be made to salvation." Besides, what right have you to withhold the acts of external worship from Him who is "the God of all flesh," as well as the "Father of spirits"; who made your body as well as your soul; who confers upon it daily mercies: who purchased it by the sufferings of His Son, who, when He was offered a sacrifice, not only endured agonies of soul, but was also crucified in His body; and who offers at the last great day to raise it up from the grave and crown it with immortality and glory! "Glorify Him therefore in your body and your spirit, which are His." Without the form of godliness, you will probably render yourselves guilty of the blood of souls; be accessory to the eternal perdition of some who are dear to you. There is no one, whose example has not some influence on those with whom he associates.
II. BUT THIS FORM IS INSUFFICIENT, UNLESS IT BE UNITED WITH THE POWER OF GODLINESS.
1. This mere outward service is a worship not conformed to the nature of God.
2. It is not conformed to the commands of God (Proverbs 33:26)
3. It is not conformed to the design of the mission of the Saviour,and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
4. It is not conformed to the nature of that covenant which is the foundation of our hopes (Jeremiah 31:33.)
5. It is not conformed to the examples of the pious; all of whom have used language the same in substance with that of Paul, "The God whom I serve in my spirit" (Romans 1:9).
6. It is not conformed to the example of the blessed Redeemer; concerning whom none can be so blasphemous, as to doubt whether His whole soul was engaged in doing and in suffering the will of God.
7. It is not conformed to the great ends of religion. These are to deliver the soul from guilt, to renew it, to re-impress upon it the image of God, to make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. And how certain is it, that for these great purposes "bodily exercise profiteth little." (1 Timothy 4:8.)
III. YET NOTWITHSTANDING THE CLEAR EVIDENCE OF THIS TRUTH, THESE ARE MANY WHO SATISFY THEMSELVES WITH THE FORM WITHOUT THE POWER OF GODLINESS.
1. At their head must be placed the intentional hypocrite, who knows that he is utterly destitute of love to God and the Redeemer, who has no desire for holiness, but who assumes the mask of religion to cover his sinful purposes.
2. The cold formalist.
3. The vain enthusiast.
4. The worldly-minded professor.
5. The bitter sectarian.
6. The censorious professor.
7. The unfruitful professor.
(H. Kollock, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.