For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…”
–2 Timothy 4:10 (NASB)
The above Scripture is a sad commentary of a man’s life. This is what A.W. Tozer refers to as the “worst calamity” that can be said of man; that is, when the human spirit is surrendered to the present world. Demas must have been a regular companion of Paul. He is mentioned as a co-worker in Colossians and Philemon, but if this is the same person, he now has deserted Paul.
Here is a man acquainted with the Gospel. Here is a man who worked alongside the Apostle Paul, and yet now he has gone back to the ways of the world because he loved its ways. Not only that he has deserted Paul in his time of need, Paul is nearing the end of his life; this is a time when he needs his stalwart friends, but finds that Demas is really not one of them.
Demas is like those that Jesus mentioned in Mark. “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (4:18-19) The desires for the things of the world sneak in and take away our first love. It may start out subtle, but soon moves in and takes control of the life. Tozer writes, “The tyranny of things, of material things, temporal things, things which are and cease to be–this has become a tyranny.” This is what rules a person’s life and chokes out the Word which was once there.
When I hear so-called Christians begin to clamor about legalism, Demas comes to mind. I wonder if Paul ever warned him of some of the things he was doing. Those things that people dabble in, those things that can cause a person to compromise and eventually make up the excuse of being “free” in the Lord. H. Maurice Lednicky states, “What is too often defined as legalism is nothing more than carnality refusing to be crucified.”
It is important to remember that we are apart from the world. The world is the enemy of God and, therefore, should be our enemy as well. We are not made for this world, we are just passing through. Our hope and home is in heaven. “A Christian is one who dedicates himself to God to inhabit another world…” (Tozer)