They have a form of godliness but they deny the power thereof by their faithlessness

By Don Koenig

Paul tells Timothy in his second letter what it will be like in the last days: 

2 Tim  3:1  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

6  For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

7  Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

This passage describes what it will be like in the world in the last days even among those who claim God but never came to the knowledge of the truth to be saved. It is logical then that this passage is talking about those who have some form of religion. It also says that it occurs in the last days so it is only common sense that the end time religious organizations of the world would contain these faithless people.

In the passage above what does it mean that they have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof”?
I believe this verse is saying that these people claim that there is a God but they actually live their lives as if God does nothing supernatural on the earth and can do nothing outside of natural laws and the works of man. They keep the God of creation in some box in the heavens where He can accomplish nothing in His own creation. They claim to be people of faith but the only faith they display is in humanistic works. A second but equally important meaning is that they claim to believe in God but they deny the Son of God who by His power created all things in heaven and earth (Eph 3:19, Col 1:16).


This is the state of affairs today in most religion of the world. Islam claims to know God but they think that they have to conquer the world for Him and they deny His Son. Jews claim to know God but Israel makes decisions contrary to their own God given scriptures and they still deny His Son. Eastern religious and new age religions claim to know of God or gods but they think that they will exist on earth until, by their own efforts, they become one with the higher powers of the universe.
Most in religion today have a form of godliness but they live as if God does nothing supernatural. They live as if God can do nothing outside of the efforts of man. Their God is no God at all.


Christianity should be our main focus since we can not expect religions that deny that God has a Son whom created all things to know truths about God. This instruction to turn away from them was written to Christians. There are many who call themselves Christians that display by their faithlessness that they are really Christian atheists. These phony "Christians" display a form of Godliness but they deny His power. Paul tells us to not to follow them.

Obviously then, the limits they put on God must be very evident in outward expressions that display their faithlessness or a true believer could not turn away from such people. If we are in the last days and such people exist in the institutional churches as Paul clearly said they would then we should be able to identify them so we can obey his instructions to turn away from them. Who then within Christianity today can we identify as those having a form of godliness while denying God's power?


A few examples where confessing Christians display a form of Godliness but deny His power are given below - we are told not to follow these reprobates concerning the faith I am sure you can think of many more examples:

  • Those that are faithless to believe that God raised His Son Jesus physically from the dead
  • Those who are faithless to believe that the Son of God became a man within Mary without the help of any man
  • Those who do not believe that the Son of God was the atonement and propitiation for all of mankind's sins
  • Those who reject or add to the good news of salvation through God's grace by faith in God's only begotten Son
  • Those who do not believe that God's Son is fully God they make him a lessor god
  • Those who claim salvation comes through the good works of man
  • Those who think man will bring a paradise on the earth through his own efforts
  • Those who believe that the world was created by time and chance
  • Those who do not believe the supernatural events of the Old Testament
  • Those who do not believe the supernatural works of the New Testament
  • Those who do not believe God's prophets
  • Those who say that God created the universe but believe that God does not intervene in it
  • Those who deny that there will be a final judgment of evil by God
  • Those who do not believe in the power of prayer to God to change things
  • Those who are do not believe that the Bible is the word of God sufficiently preserved by God for our faith and practice
  • Those organizations that use deviant, predatory and misleading fund raising techniques displaying the faithlessness of their leadership
  • Those organizations that display more reliance on psychology and philosophies of men than faith in God and the power of prayer


Certainly, there are many more examples of those that live their lives like Christian atheists. The term applies because they make God nonexistent by denying that He has supernatural power on earth. One thing should be clear to all of us. Those who display a form of Godliness but deny His power should not be those we follow or hold in esteem even if they like to fondly call themselves "Christians".


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