As we saw yesterday, those who are evil and impostors view themselves as godly. Paul says that they hold to a “form” of godliness. That word “form” is interesting. The Greek is μόρφωσις (morphōsis). The word is only twice in the New Testament, here and Romans 2:20. The word only shows up two or three times in the Koine literature which is used to help understand the different shades of meaning when we are digging deeper into the text. So there is not much on which we can build our understanding. The best practice then is to look at how Paul uses the term in those contexts.
When we look at the text, in both instances Paul is describing those who are either mishandling God’s Word or blatantly false teachers. In Romans 2:20, Paul is rebuking those Jews who are using the Law to correct others, while not following it themselves. Sounds like hypocrisy does it not?
In 2 Timothy 3:5, people who are evil and impostors are claiming godliness for their lifestyle.
It seems that in both cases we are dealing with those who have a skewed view of either God or the Christian life. I get the mental picture of building a form in which to poor a concrete pad. I need a square but the lumber used is warped, the sides are not straight and the angles are not ninety degrees. If I were the people in Romans 2:20 I would be teaching people how to make a square form, correcting them when I had failed to make mine correctly. If I were the evil and impostors of 2 Timothy 3:5, I would be holding my misshapen form out as the only true way to make a square form.
There are those today who fit in both categories. Those who demand and teach what they are incapable of doing themselves, and those who portray a warped view of the Bible or Christianity as the truth. Paul is warning us that this is the reality that we face as his apprentice Timothy did in Ephesus.
Later he tells us how to build the firewall. But first, we need to look more closely at the evil men and impostors – tomorrow…