Difficulty of spiritual defection
2 Timothy 4:10, Philemon 1:24
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers… [Timothy] Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.
Some tough stuff we face happens when someone we know does an about-face spiritually. They desert. They fall away from faith once embraced, and the Lord and His body. A new agenda has taken over in their lives.
Someone on Paul’s team, named Demas, did just that. Demas served as a fellow-worker in the gospel, named in letters Paul sent to the Colossian church, and to Philemon, one of its key leaders. Likely, Demas had been with Paul in Rome during Paul’s first 2-year house-arrest.
Time forward. Paul is under a 2nd Roman arrest, and the veteran apostle doesn’t sugar-coat the difficult circumstances. For Demas, the pleasures of getting back in step with the world reclaimed him. Paul describes Demas’ choice as “desertion,” a strong term suggesting a “total abandonment in rough going.” He forsook Paul right when Paul’s need was greatest, facing a hostile Roman emperor’s court. Indeed, Paul sensed his own end was near (2 Tim.4:6). Demas didn’t want any part of it. The high pricetag of persevering as Paul’s companion became for him too costly. “Good- bye!”
In this first letter to his spiritual son, Paul reminds Timothy some Christians will give up. “Now the Spirit expressly says in later times, some will depart from the faith, by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teaching of demons” (1 Tim.4:1). Some depart deceived. Others for rekindled love for “the world.” Still others, simply fearful of torture or death. Under public threat, (several Roman emperors made it very difficult for Christians).
When fellow Christians renounce faith and live unfaithfully, tough stuff follows: discouragement, relationships strain, confusion over their spiritual condition. “Come as soon as possible,” Paul urged Timothy. Faithful disciples need each other all the more in the hurt of betrayal and desertion.