Passage: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Speaker: Mitch Kim

Series: Forming Love In A Culture Of Fear

Love Distorted

This year, the flu has been almost nonexistent. In our vigilant fight against COVID-19, we have not only reduced the spread of this coronavirus but also the spread of the flu virus! While COVID-19 can destroy the body, the virus of distorted love can bring destruction to our souls. In 2 Timothy 3:1–9, we see that distorted loves destroy relationships, denies the power of godliness, and spreads without knowledge. Just as we fight the coronavirus with social distancing and masking, so we must fight the virus of distorted love with the the power and knowledge of godliness!

First we see that distorted love destroys relationships (2 Tim 3:1–3). In these last days “there will come times of difficulty” (2 Tim 3:1). Could any other sentence better explain 2020…and 2021? We have faced deeply polarizing divisions around politics, masking, and issues of race and countless accounts of heart-wrenching deaths, all while separated from people that we care for and love. Yet these times of difficulty in the world come from distorted love; Paul begins an extensive list of vices that begin with “lovers of self” (3:2) and end with “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (3:4). Such love of self is seen in that they are “lovers of money, proud, arrogant, [and] abusive.”Such self-love destroys relationships, affecting relationships since we are “ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good” (3:3). Distorted love destroys relationships.

Also distorted love denies the power of godliness (2 Tim 3:4–5). Nobody decides that they want to be mean when they grow up. Instead we allow a love of self to take root in our heart and find ourselves powerless to love others. This list concludes with “treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” And the root problem is that they are “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power (3:5). While godliness brings the power of heaven for the messiness of earth, distorted loves may look religious, busy, and active but lack the power for genuine obedience.

Finally distorted love spreads without knowledge (2 Tim 3:6–9). Like gangrene, it creeps into households by preying on those who are already “burdened with sins and led astray by various passions.” Notice how sin makes us move vulnerable. Yet the challenge is that they are “are always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (3:7). Only as we know the truth can the truth set us free!  Yet when we fail to know that truth, then we find ourselves vulnerable to be led astray. Yet such false teaching does not end well; just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses and did not get very far, so these false teachers will not get far (3:8–9).

What is the alternative? We must fight the virus of distorted love with the power and knowledge of godliness. Unlike those who deny the power of godliness (2 Tim 3:5), we must operate in the power of godliness, which “holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim 4:8), even in such mundane areas like the care of our family (1 Tim 5:4). And this power of godliness comes from a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim 3:7), the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his glorious work for us. May the power and knowledge of godliness restore our love!