The Sunday Sermon
Having the Form, But Denying the Power
by B.H. Carroll
Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades
-Having a form of Godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. -
2 Timothy 3:5
Everything in this world takes on a form, and the form serves an excellent purpose; it is by no means to be despised, but the form by itself is nothing. You may understand the two thoughts by selecting from a tree a ripe hickory nut, fully ripe. Now, there is a form around it; that form is for its protection; first, the form of the hull, and then of the shell, but sometimes you find one that has an external seeming, yet it feels very light and there is nothing in it; now, there is a mere form -- an empty shell.
The apostle here declares that in the last days there shall be a class of Christians who have the form of Godliness, but who deny its power, or, as he expresses it they profess that they know God, but in works they deny it, and that here may be no misunderstanding about this class, he describes their characteristics. (Titus 1:16;)
They are selfish people; they love themselves; they love silver; covetous -- that is what the word in the original means, lovers of silver-they are proud, heady, unthankful people; they receive favors and are not grateful for them. They have no respect for the relations of life; as children, they are disobedient to their parents; as wives, they are disobedient to their husbands; as those who have entered into a covenant, they break the agreements that they have made with other people’; nothing binding; no sort of an agreement that is made with them will hold. (James 5:12;) They consider not that they are bound by obligations into which they enter with other men; they are treacherous; they are blasphemers; they love pleasure more than they love God. ( 2 Timothy 3:4;) Now, those are some of the characteristics of these people.
He says that when that class prevail it makes perilous times, hazardous, dangerous times; when those who claim to be Christians are only shells, empty shells; when they have the form of Godliness and deny its power; when they profess to be Christians and in their lives go directly contrary to the teachings of Christianity. (Matthew 23:27;) If he is an old man and a Christian, he will be sober, grave, temperate, sound in the faith; if she is an old woman, she, too, will be sober and grave, and a thoughtful teacher of younger women, and if she be a young woman and a Christian, she will be chaste and discreet, and love her husband, and love her children, and will regard it as a religious obligation to take due care of her home; if it is a servant and a Christian, that servant will be impelled by his Christianity to do faithful, honest service for the wages that are paid; not answering back to his employer, not stealing little things, purloining; not one who serves as under the eye of another, an eye servant, but one who, whether the master is present and looking on or not, for conscience’s sake renders a faithful amount of work for the compensation which is paid. (Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 4:11; Galatians 6:6;)
Now, it does seem to me that there is an opportunity at this time in the world for the highest and holiest demonstration of Christianity ever known in the case of employees. There is a vast deal of unhealthy sentimentalism prevalent, that kind of sentimentalism which encourages a man to think that an employer is necessarily a tyrant; that an employer is necessarily an oppressor of the poor. Oh! What a revolution it would work, if throughout the length and breadth of this land today all employees who claim to be Christians would for Christ’s sake do genuine honest work when they are paid to do the work; that they would give fair service, and that they would not rely upon this unhealthy sentimentalism that leads men to think that a contract does not mean anything; that a man’s obligation amounts to nothing; that a question of honor is nothing ( Leviticus 19:15;)
I do not hesitate to say today that if I were not a preacher, and I knew how to perform such service, I would like to be for a short time a cook, just to show what honest, faithful service ought to be in that department, in order to adorn the principles of the Christian religion. There is a state of demagogism prevalent which arises from the dominion of politics that is absolutely sapping the vitals of a sturdy, rigorous manhood.
Christianity does teach a man to be honest; it does teach that he shall give fair service for a fair compensation; it does teach that men as they get older should become riper for salvation; it does teach that in the home its graces should be illustrated; it does teach that in matters of obligation and word we should be faithful; and this is true, sound doctrine, the doctrine preached by the apostle, and who, while himself poor and a laborer, took that high moral ground that if a man would not labor he should not eat; that he was not entitled to it, and I do believe that if we would, for Christ’s sake, frown down upon beggary as coming from strong men, that kind of sponging on others when there is strength in the right arm, when there is ability to render good service; I believe if we would, for Christ’s sake, frown down upon it, that we would have a more vigorous, sturdy manhood among our people.
Now, do not misunderstand me. While I have not, as a Christian, one atom of respect for the demagogy that is debauching the morals of the masses of the people --not an atom-- neither have I for that power of wealth, for that power of monopoly that would, under the guise of contract, grind a man to powder and crush his very soul out of him. ( 2 Peter 2:19;) What I mean to say is, that it is a practical teaching of Christianity and one that is too much ignored, that for Christ’s sake we ought to be faithful men and women in every department of life. It is contrary to the life of Jesus Christ and His precepts to make religion a cloak for idleness in any direction, or for a trifling character. ( Galatians 5:13; James 1:25; James 2:12; 1 Peter 2:16;)
I thought it right --I thought the times called for the pressing of this primal thought of the text, that a man who professes to be a Christian and has a form of Godliness is under obligation to recognize the power of that Christianity in the little things of life, and in the business of life, and in our homes, and in all of our social interchanges. ( 1 Corinthians 10:31;)
Unquestionably that is the teaching of Jesus Christ and all His apostles and we can be faithful to Jesus by attending to the smallest details of household affairs. We can recognize the light of the authority of Jesus Christ by being careful concerning the most insignificant duty of this life, and it is by the massing together of these little things that a great character is ever formed. A great character is never formed by an exceptional act; it is never brought about by some sensational surrounding; it is the development, it is the outgrowth of habit, and by attention to everything that is right in the sight of God, making His teachings the rule of our life in the most infinitesimal affairs. (a)
(a) Editor’s notation - In order to fully appreciate this last sentence, it is suggested the reading of Psalm 119 in its entirety. Focus on such words/expressions as, precepts, instruction, your ways, your words. In it the Psalmist David gives glory to God by living his life according to His Word.
Dr. RVZ – Servant of the King Jesus Christ