“Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good (aphilagathoi).” (2 Timothy 3:3 KJV)
“For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good (philagathon), self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” (Titus 1:7–8 ESV)
In the last days, there will arise people who have qualities precisely opposite of what is required of leaders in the churches. In this entry, I want to focus our attention on the quality of loving good and more specifically loving good people. I wish to contrast people who love good people with those who despise good people (aphilagathoi).
The phrase “a lover of good” is translated from one Greek word philagathon, which is a double compound of philos and agathos. To keep it simple, philos is translated as love andagathos is translated as good. However, when describing people in the last days Paul adds the negative — forming the word aphilagathoi. We could say that these individuals are non-lovers of good or people who are good. In other words, they despise or hate good itself and good people.
I heard a preacher recently say that there are people who don’t want to live right and they despise everyone who does. It was like a light went off in my mind. I was so captivated by the comment that I went back over my life to see how it agreed with my own Christian experience down through the years. I have to say, that from the first months and years I was a Christian I frequently encountered “professing Christians” who seemed to despise the fact that I was trying actually to live right. When I review all the data, there is a striking trend I found: the despisers were typically people who were raised in Christian homes.
In my experience, these people cloak their aphilagathoi (despising good) by saying spiritual sounding comments like, “So and so is a Pharisee” or “So and so has a religious spirit.” Really? Just because they are trying to live right and influence others to live right too, they are a Pharisee or have a religious spirit? Had they been what Titus calls a “lover of those who are good” they would have taken pleasure in people who want to live right and would encourage them to do so. Instead, these types will diminish your influence by calling you radical, marginalizing your life, or making it seem like you are the only person who believes that way. They will say things like, “You don’t have to live like that to be a Christian.”
Born a Christian or a Born Again Christian?
Nobody is born a Christian. It is impossible. Everyone, no matter how much or how little Spiritual training and influence they may grow up with, still have to be born again. Training does not make a Christian. A Christian home does not make a Christian. Recognizing by the conviction of the Holy Spirit that you are a sinner, acknowledging your sin, turning from your sin, asking God to forgive your sin, putting your faith and trust absolutely in Christ, renouncing your former life, dying to who you used to be, taking up your cross by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and receiving His Holy Spirit makes a person a Christian.
Despising Good People
Why would a professing Christian despise another Christian who was trying actually to live right? I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I came to church sporadically on the church bus. We had a family Bible that I read often enough to have a basic sense that Christians were to live like Jesus and obey His words. When I was born again I encountered many professing believers who had no desire for the Bible and no desire to live right. Imagine being a newborn believer showing up to a Christian gathering with my Bible and being told, “You’re the spiritual guy… you brought a Bible.” I was completely disillusioned. I thought it was normative for Christians to fellowship around God’s word.
In time I was exposed to many people who professed Christianity and even served in ministry but lived almost secular lives. I’m not judging. I’m explaining my experience. I’m reckoning with the type of people Paul said would exist in the last days. They are dangerous and do tremendous harm to the Body of Christ. I tried to influence many of these “professing Christians” for good and God, but the vast majority wouldn’t have it. I did everything in my power to influence them, convince them, see them repent and actually try to live right. I wasn’t perfect and never claimed to be. I was trying to live for God, and I wanted other professing Christians to do so as well. In time the majority of them only became more and more resentful, especially when they fell into a scandal. Some have fallen in the faith entirely and have taken others down with them.
A Carnal Mind
When a person despises good and people who try to be good they are utterly carnal minded and at enmity with God. I don’t care what they profess or what ministry position they hold. There is something diabolical about a person who resents others who try to live holy and righteous lives. I recall Leonard Ravenhill talking about professing Christians who would derogatorily look at Christians trying to live right as if to say, “You want to be more holy than us, huh?!”
Notice what the scripture says about leadership, For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good (philagathon), self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” (Titus 1:7–8 ESV) Being a lover of good people is part of the litmus test (if you will) for leadership. How can a person be a Christian and not love good people? Nevertheless, in the last days, the aphilagathoi types (despisers of good) will increase more and more.