“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…” II Timothy 4:10
This verse has always stabbed at me in a particularly aggressive way. Here is the Apostle Paul, dwelling in a most miserable prison, awaiting his death. When he considers his friends and loved ones, those who have supported him over the years, he must also think of those who have forsaken him. Demas, mentioned elsewhere in good report, has now left. But he did not leave for other business, or other ministry, or even because he no longer liked Paul. He left because he loved this world. Why shouldn’t he? Paul was in prison and about to die, other Christians had gained nothing from their faith. Demas may have found that the Gospel was not making him any friends. Perhaps his children were also mocked and lonely? Ministry with the Apostle just became too sad of an existence and too great of a burden. So he left Paul in prison and went and did his own thing.
I have often thought about what Demas’s side of the story would have been. I can imagine that he would have still professed faith in Christ. Perhaps he still worshiped with a group of professed believers on Sunday. He may have said that he did not abandon his faith, just the strict and narrow lifestyle of Paul. Perhaps Paul’s philosophy was just too rigid for him and he wanted to please more of the Roman and Greek public. I can imagine that Demas surrounded himself with people who claimed Christianity, but never wanted to offend those who did not. He loved this world and he wanted to have all that this world offered socially. So he left the Apostle and his narrowness.
I fear we are all this illustration of Demas at heart. We all love this world too much. It is so full of sensory appeal. Its gratification can be so immediate. When in worship on Sunday, I fear we think about this world and what we are going to do next. When in prayer, I fear we think about this world and its requirements. When reading the Scriptures I fear we want it to end so we can get back to “reality”. Worst of all, when faithfulness to the whole Word of God causes us to loose out on a life experience, a relationship, or money, I fear that we like Demas may forsake the truth. Take note of this man Demas. He is recorded in the Scriptures as a warning. His end was perhaps worse than we know. Though he gained temporary comfort, experience, and favor, he lost his soul. What can a person give in exchange for his soul? Therefore beloved, endure harness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, finish the course, keep the faith, keep the devil angry, hold the fort.