Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3 and warns him that in the church there will be men who are lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, unloving, unforgiving, brutal, traitors, headstrong and haughty, but Paul says that these men will have a “form of godliness” – they will learn the catechism questions and pass Lordship class and become members of Church and homeschool their children and be pro-life. But this form of godliness is not the real thing because they will deny its power. And Paul says to stay far away from those people. But they will put on such a good show that they will creep into households and make captives of gullible women, loaded down with sins.
There are two exhortations here, and they go together: We are not here to put on a show. We are not here to look respectable. We are not here to punch our religious cards. We are here because a man named Jesus has taken away our sins, and now we are clean. We were blind, but now we see. We were lost, but now we are found. We are here because Jesus is God in the flesh, and he was crucified for us and on the third day rose up from the dead. We are here because of the power of God, and specifically, the power of God to take away our sin and to make the foulest clean.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about or if you think this is all a little too dramatic for the beginning of the worship service. Please go away, get up now and leave. This place is not for you. This place is for sinners who know their sin, and have found their only refuge in the cross of Christ.