"For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power."
What's most difficult about this description is that I see myself in this list. It is so easy to slip into a spiritual "neutral" gear, and we all too easily become lovers of self and pleasure and praise. This "neutral" is itself listed as being "without self-control." I am characterized, at least sometimes, by this list!
So what does Paul instruct Timothy to do? At the end of verse 5 he says, "Avoid such people." So what does that mean for the Christian who finds him or herself struggling with these issues, "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power"?
Here's the answer: repent.
Writing to Christians regarding their ungodly passions and desires, James instructs his readers in chapter 4:
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." - James 4:7-10
This is a pattern of repentance and contrition before God that we should emulate. If we see ourselves in Scripture, it usually means we should repent.