By Dan King
He had forsaken the blood of Jesus that had cleansed him of his sins, and had returned to wallow in the mire of the world … He had forsaken the promise and prospect of heaven itself!
Life takes a great many sad turns. There are certainly some very disheartening moments that come our way. No doubt one of the saddest is when we lose a friend, with little hope of ever regaining him. This is the situation when Paul mentions in his second epistle to Timothy (4:10), “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.”
Demas was not just a good friend, he was before a faithful Christian brother and an associate in the minis-try of the gospel. He is mentioned elsewhere in Scripture as among those who traveled with Paul in his missionary journeying (Phile. 24; Col. 4:14). No doubt these men had worked closely together, had prayed together, laughed together, and wept together. Now Demas was gone. He had abandoned Paul and left him to his work alone. No doubt the Apostle felt a deep sense of emptiness when he left, the same feeling we all have when we are abandoned by someone about whom we care deeply. Too, he surely felt the inner craving to see him again the identical yearning that we experience in the absence of friends of years gone by.
Unfortunately, Paul could not run after him. I believe he would have if it had been possible. But Demas had not merely left. He had “forsaken” Paul. And he had, in the course of doing so, not only forsaken Paul, but the Lord also. He had forsaken the church, which needed so desperately then, as it does now, able workers to share their talents in seeking the lost and encouraging the redeemed. He had forsaken the fellowship of saintly men and women. He had forsaken worship activities: his voice was not heard in the songs and hymns of praise, nor was his heart joined in the prayers of the people of God. He had forsaken the blood of Jesus that had cleansed him of his sins, and had returned to wallow in the mire of the world (2 Pet. 2:22). He had forsaken the promise and prospect of heaven itself! (I wonder now, looking back from his present perspective in eternity, if he thinks his grand transaction such a bargain as he did then?)
The Bible also defines the terms of his abandonment of the cause of Christ in the same verse: “having loved this present world. ” My curiosity is whetted at why this godly man chose to forsake Christ for “this present world.” Was he sick and tired of the persecutions leveled against the church and himself as one of its advocates? Undoubtedly he was, but did this cause him to leave? Was he fed up with the hardships of the work of preaching the Word? Was he tired of doing without; and had he made up his mind that he was going to get some of the material possessions that others had, and up till now he had done without? Could it have been the persistently low wages? Was he sick of the double standard that many brethren have for preachers? Was he tired of living in a “glass house” with everyone’s eyes on him? Was he fed up with the criticisms and petty “nitpicking” directed at him and his family by fellow Christians? Was it a woman? Had he met a girl who was for him “forbidden fruit” (the wife of another, or someone divorced with-out proper cause, etc.)?
It is interesting that Scripture does not give us the details or satisfy our curiosity on this matter. We are left wondering. But we would not be surprised to hear it was any of these things or even a combination of them. We have seen it played out so often under different circumstances and with different people as the main characters. Don’t permit yourself to be a Demas. The Lord’s people need you and will miss you if you go.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 3 p. 6
February 6, 1997