Summary: Looking a the men who were with Paul when it came time for him to die, Demas, a faithful man in the past, was the only one who left. He may have left the faith but he also may have found a more comfortable place to serve God.
Annual Sermons Volume 12 Sermon 1
2 Tim 3:10
DEMAS IN MY MIRROR?
Demas was a fine follower of Christ for years. With Paul in his first imprisonment, Paul calls him his “fellow worker” (Phm. 24) and puts him right beside Luke (Phm. 24; Col. 4:14). Now, in his last imprisonment, five years later, Paul writes, “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me. . .” (2 Tim. 4:10). Preachers are hard on Demas. Every message I read pictures him as unsaved, an out-and-out man of the world, who turned his back on Christ. One famous author even imagines him holding political office in Thessalonica and sentencing Christians to death. This could be true. Men and women who have looked and acted “Christian” like Judas have turned from the faith with a vengeance, even to the point of opposing it.
The Hard Circumstances Around Him.
There is another possibility. Demas might be like most people in our pews and pulpits today. He ran from the hard demands of living in the will of God to the comfort of a church. It might be that Demas left Paul but did not leave Christ. It might be that he did not desert the faith but the hard demand of God’s will, which was for him to stay with and minister to Paul and to a lost world. We do not see here the harsh words the New Testament uses for those who desert the Christian faith either in false belief or filthy behavior. John called people like this “antichrist”. Peter says they are dogs returning to their vomit. Paul says “their god is their belly.” Here, more broken hearted than stern, Paul says, “Demas. . .has deserted me” (2 Tim. 4:10).
When we look at what was going on we will see it would be tempting, it would be downright easy to leave Paul. Nero was on the Roman throne from A.D. 54-68. He began his reign with such kindness that Seneca said he was “incapable of learning cruelty.” But power or something else corrupted him and he became the cruelest of the cruel. He murdered his brother, then his mother and then his wife. He turned his fury on the Christians of Rome, blaming them for a great fire some accused him of starting. He put Christians inside animal skins and let dogs eat them. He nailed Christians to crosses and set them on fire to light his gardens. As people watched them burn he walked or rode up and down, cheering. And now Paul was in the hands of this madman. With a flick of his filthy wrist he could have Paul and all those associated with him put to death. Application: Now I ask you. If you were in Rome, with Paul, in A.D. 67-68, wouldn’t your home town of Thessalonica, hundreds of miles away, look inviting? Wouldn’t it be easy to hear the Lord calling you to minister there?
Illustration: There was a cute little French poodle who despised the huge Doberman that trotted by his house every day. Seeing him the poodle would jump from his chair, jump down the steps, run down the walk, jump on the chain link gate and with his paws and nose pushing against the holes, growl and bark and bite and scratch at his huge enemy. The Doberman would just glance his way and trot on. This was repeated hundreds of times. On this particular day, the scene unfolded, the little fighter jumped up on the gate AND IT SWUNG OPEN! Having waited patiently for such a day the 110 pound Doberman unleashed his pent up frustrations for about a minute and then went on his way, smiling. The poodle, a mass of scratches, blood, mud and dog saliva, without a bone that didn’t hurt, limped back to the porch and said, “WHO IN THE WORLD LEFT THE GATE OPEN?” Folks, it’s easy to stand and fight and be brave WHEN THE GATE IS LOCKED. But when the gate is open, when the hounds of hell are unleashed, when Christianity requires unbelievable costs, it is not so easy. Think first of leaving. . .
I. SALVATION? (Jn. 10:27-28; 1 Jn. 2:19)
When we think of deserting church members, I must remind you that a true, justified born again person cannot desert salvation. Once we are TRULY saved we are ALWAYS saved. Listen to Jesus in John 10, “My sheep. . .follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish (See John 3:16, perish = be lost and go to hell); no one can snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:27, 28). We are given, in the new birth, permanent, eternal life. If it can end and we lose it, it is not eternal. We are given the promise of Jesus that we who are truly saved will never perish, be lost and go to hell. When a person like Judas, who looks and acts like a Christian, goes away from the faith or from faithfulness into a filthy, disobedient life, listen to what God says about them through John, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 Jn. 2:19).