This quote is the command that Paul gives to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:5.
In Paul's letter to Timothy, he is encouraging him to hold tight to his faith and is giving him instructions about church leadership(i.e. 2 Timothy 1:6-14). Right before chapter three beings, Paul has been talking to Timothy about false teachers and how to deal with them and how to spot them. He tells Timothy how to protect the church from false teachers and talks about what true teachers, followers, and disciples of Jesus look like (i.e. 2 Timothy 2:14-26)
Then in 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul says to Timothy, mark my words – or heed my instruction – there are going to be terrible times in the last days. Paul proceeds to describe people that claim to have a form of godliness, yet they are self-centered, lovers of themselves and money; they are boastful, arrogant, slanderers; they are brutal, without self-control, lacking in forgiveness and love, and above all, they love pleasure rather than God.
Paul says that these people have a form of godliness but deny its power and so Timothy must have nothing to do with these people. As I read this section of 2 Timothy 3:1-8, I began to think hard about the leaders (or teachers) of the United States that many people will support no matter their actions or words. I began to think about all of the political, social, and economic leaders – on all sides of the liberal and conservative spectrum – that claim to love and follow Christ, yet look so much like the description of people that Paul gives to Timothy that he should have nothing to do with.
Church, we must be wise about who we raise up and who we claim can fix brokenness. The only person we can honestly hold up and praise is Jesus Christ. We are surrounded by people that are driven by division, hate, slandering, and deceit in all parties. We must, and emphasis on must, not be like these people. If we are to claim Christ, if we are to be the church of Jesus Christ, the body of Him who is the head, we cannot be like those who have a form of godliness yet deny its power.
Rather, we must be a people who proclaim the power of Christ, who first and foremost brings redemption and reconciliation from sin, and then out of that brings reconciliation and healing in society. Without freedom from sin then we are like those who claim godliness and deny the power of the cross. Without humility and the grace of God, we are like those who claim godliness and deny the blood that washes away the slavery of sin. Without repentance and confession, we are like those who proclaim that they can fix the world and deny Jesus as king.
So as Paul says to Timothy, I remind you as well, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)