But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. – 2 Timothy 3:1-5
The last days here is not referring to a brief period of time before Christ’s return. In a very broad and general sense, the “last days” can include the entire era between Christ’s first coming, by birth and His literal second coming at the end of the tribulation period. In this passage, Paul may be referring more specifically to the period beginning with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the united believers in Jerusalem, which was the start of the Church (following Christ’s resurrection and ascension back to heaven – Pentecost and concluding with Christ’s return to earth). Through Paul’s prophecy here, the ungodly and immoral behaviour in society will accelerate as the end approaches.
1. The last days will be marked by a widespread collapse of the moral structure of the family and of society in general as people are arrogant “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”. Even in churches, unfaithfulness to God and disloyalty to His truth will increase. These times will be especially difficult and disheartening for God’s true servants.
2. Paul warns that within organized Christianity many will have “a form of godliness” (insincere, hypocritical religion) and will appear to do the right things outwardly; but they will lack the authentic power that comes from a right relationship with God. Such people deny the true power of Christ’s message that produces genuine life transformation and godly character. Paul adds: “I have nothing to do with them”.
The full benefits of spiritual salvation and the mighty end-time outpouring and activity of the Holy Spirit will occur through churches that are truly passionate for Jesus, actively serving His purpose and anticipating His coming. Followers of Christ who remain true to God and His Word will experience greater favour and empowerment from God than they have ever known.
LOVERS OF THEMSELVES
Paul gives a list of sins that all have their root in a love of self:
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – 2 Timothy 3:2-4
Many people today teach that a lack of love for oneself is the root of destructive behaviour and petrsonality disorders. However, God’s Word reveals that the problem lies in a self-centeredness that has no concern for God or others.
In the last days, God’s people must be prepared to face an over-whelming rise in ungodliness as history enters its final stages. Paul prophesies that Satan will bring great destruction on the family. Children will be “disobedient to their parents”, and men and women will be “without love”. This can be translated “without family affection” and refers to a lack of natural tenderness and love, as shown by a mother who rejects her children or kills her baby, a father who abandons his family or children who neglect their aging parents.
Men and women will become lovers of money and pleasure and will pursue their own selfish desires with no thought or concern for God or others. Many will consider parenthood, with its demands for sacrificial love and nurture, an unworthy or undignified task. Parents with true love for their children will be rare; they will be replaced more and more by those who are selfish and brutal and who abandon their children, emotionally and physically.
If Christian parents are to safeguard their families in the difficult times of the last days, they must protect them from evil influences and teach them to reject the corrupt values of the society in which they live.
HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS
Paul is referring to those who claim to be Christians, appear to be religious and seem to do the right things, but who do not have an authentic personal relationship with Jesus. Their lives are not characterized by the spiritual power that frees people from sin (their own God-defying ways), selfishness and ungodly behaviour. Such people tolerate immoral behaviours and lifestyles in their churches and among those who claim to know God. They even teach that a person may practice the sins listed and yet still be spiritually saved and have a part in God’s kingdom. While Christians need to reach out and maintain positive relationships and influence with people who do not know Christ, they are to “having nothing to do with” hypocritical people who pretend to follow Christ but are simply trying to fool God and others. Such people tend to distort Christ’s message, mislead others spiritually and cause divisions in the church.
WHO IS ON THE LORD’S SIDE – MHB 820
Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?
Who will be His helpers, other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe?
Who is on the Lord’s side? Who for Him will go?
By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!
Jesus, Thou hast bought us, not with gold or gem,
But with Thine own lifeblood, for Thy diadem;
With Thy blessing filling each who comes to Thee,
Thou hast made us willing, Thou hast made us free.
By Thy grand redemption, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!
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