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Neil Postman warned in the foreword to Amusing Ourselves to Death that it is not what we hate that will ruin us but rather what we love. The far more dangerous situation is a culture that seeks out pleasure and ease at all costs, even when that cost is their freedom. This is the danger into which Paul’s fellow worker Demas fell.

Demas was a co-laborer on Paul’s missionary journeys. He was first mentioned alongside Luke in Colossians (Col. 4:14). He was also mentioned in Philemon along with Mark, Aristarchus, and Luke (Philem. 24). Demas worked faithfully with Paul through his missionary journeys and even into his first imprisonment. But along the way, Demas was overcome by the enticements of the world.

Near the end of what was likely Paul’s last letter, he wrote some of the saddest verses in the Bible: “Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (2 Tim. 4:9–10). Demas abandoned Paul. In Paul’s great hour of need, Demas left him in the lurch. He ditched Paul and rejected Christ. The reason was not a fear of persecution but rather a love of this world. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones commented,

When the devil fails to destroy us by means of his military or secular power, or his false religions, he comes to us in this most pleasant and seductive manner, and perhaps suggests that we are working too hard or that we are being over strict or that we are really going too far and rushing to extremes.

Demas lifted up the creature higher than the Creator. His eyes and heart became enamored of the beauty of another. This false god slipped in quietly, slowly diverting his gaze from Christ to the things of the world. It was probably subtle, but soon enough Demas had submitted to a false god.

Far too often, the church tries to harbor both the love of Christ and the love of the world in its heart. These are mutually exclusive. Like Demas, we attempt to embrace both, but when difficulties arise, our true love will remain. The love of this world is a flattering mistress who promises true happiness but leaves only regret and death.

The Puritan Richard Sibbes offers this advice: “Labor to know the world, that you may detest it.” Enjoy the good things for what they are. They are not wrong in and of themselves. But see that in comparison to the beauty of Christ, they are vapid and meaningless. Learn to be content with Christ in all situations (Phil. 4:11). A love for the world cannot lodge with a love for Christ. Realize that you, like Demas, are far more likely to be ruined by a love of pleasure than a fear of pain. Do not love what ruins, but rather love Him who gives abundant life (John 10:10).

A Ministry that Does not Burden

Paul’s Commitment to Carry On

Keep Reading The Theology of Christmas Hymns

From the December 2021 Issue
Dec 2021 Issue