“Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.” Colossians 4:14 (NKJV)
We’ve been on the road since last Thursday and so I’m running a bit behind today. Last week in my daily Bible reading I finished reading the book of Colossians. As is his custom, Paul ends this letter by giving a series of greetings to certain people and from others. There is one name in the book of Colossians that always stands out to me, Demas.
After telling them that Luke the “beloved physician” sent his greetings, Paul also tells them that another of his companions sent his greetings. His name is Demas. Demas is like many others on this list, in that we know very little about him.
In fact Demas is only mentioned three times in the N.T. He is mentioned here in Colossians. At the conclusion of the letter to Philemon we read, “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.” Philemon 1:23-24 (NKJV) Here he is also mentioned as one of Paul’s co-workers.
If these were the only verses we had about him we could conclude that he was a fellow worker with the Apostle Paul. As such he must have labored to advance the Kingdom of God and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was someone who had given his life to serve Christ.
If these verses were the only verses we had about him we could even speculate that maybe he was a preacher, or possibly a pastor. But these aren’t the only verses we have about him.
Approximately five years after writing the book of Colossians Paul would write what was probably his last letter. This letter was addressed to his young protégé Timothy. Toward the end of this letter he once again mentions Demas. But sadly, this time his mention of Demas is quite different. Paul writes,
“for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica–Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.” 2 Timothy 4:10 (NKJV)
Isn’t that sad? There are a lot of things about Demas we just don’t know for sure. How old was he? We don’t know. How long had he been a Christian? We don’t know. How long had he been Paul’s companion? We can’t be certain, but it does appear he was Paul’s companion for at least around five years.
After about five years of being Paul’s companion he deserted him. Why did he desert him, it was because he had fallen in love with the things of this world. I think this is where we need to be careful. The Bible warns us about loving the world.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV)
The reason is that we cannot love the things of this world and love God as well. These loves are mutually exclusive. This probably isn’t new information to anyone reading this. However, here is why I think we need to see the life of Demas as an encouragement to be careful.
While we don’t know a lot about Demas, we do know enough to conclude that he should have known better. Good grief his traveling companion was the Apostle Paul. Can you imagine the Scriptural insights he must have gleaned from Paul? Can you imagine the amazing things he must have seen working with Paul? This was someone who had labored, served and strived to advance the Kingdom of God and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This was someone that had work side-by-side with the Apostle Paul. This was also someone that fell in love with the things of this world and seemingly abandoned the faith.
It is easy for us to read some other Christian that is overtaken by sin and say, “Wow that is bad. But it would never happen to me.” But I think Demas is proof that it could happen to anyone. That is why the Bible says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1 (NKJV) If we see another Christian fall prey to sin we are to work to bring them back. But we must be careful that we do not fall into sin just as they did.
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV) Prior to writing this, Paul had given a brief history of what God had done for the Israelites (verses 1-4). Despite all that God had done for them, the Israelites rebelled and faced the judgment of God (verse 5). Paul mentioned all of this because he was using the Israelites as an example and a warning to us (verses 6-11).
If we think we are too strong, or too spiritual to fall away like the Israelites or Demas we had better be careful. If we are not careful we may let our love and devotion to God get cold, while our love and devotion to the things of this world get hot. If this happens we could end up like Demas and have as the sad epitaph of our lives, “He deserted me having loved the things of this world.”