"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
Sound familiar? It certainly looks to me a lot like what we are witnessing in our culture today – more than ever, right now. We should expect to see these behaviors from the ungodly unregenerate people of this world. Those who have not received the message of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ are subject to the tactics of the evil one. But this Scripture warns us about those who call themselves Christians (having a form of godliness) who portray these characteristics. What does it say to do about these people? HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH SUCH PEOPLE. Pastors who preach racial division, those who condone sexual immorality and murdering innocent babies – HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM. There is a falling away happening right now. There is a sifting and a separating that must take place. Why must this happen? Because God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, is preparing a church for His return. We will be a people known for our love for one another. We will be a people who stand for righteousness. And we will be ONE – even as Jesus and the Father are one… that’s pretty darned ONE. But get ready. This oneness isn’t going to just slide on like a silk gown (I’m not sure why I used that analogy – I guess it sounds luxurious and easy). We are warned… “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” – vs. 12-13. Did you catch that? WE WILL BE PERSECUTED
Paul goes on to exhort us as follows: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” - Chapter 4 vs. 1-5 We have an opportunity like never before to be a light in the darkness. We have an opportunity to be conduits of God’s grace and mercy and love. We have an opportunity to stand in stark contrast to a world headed for hell and destruction and point people to the straight and narrow gate – Jesus. Be not afraid. Be strong and courageous. And be of good cheer.
As Paul knows his own execution is to soon be carried out, he ends his letter to Timothy with these words: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Keep your eyes on Jesus my dear brothers and sisters in Christ. For those of us who long for His appearing… do you long for His appearing? For those of us who long for His appearing, we are encouraged to fight the good fight, to keep the faith… and we are promised this in Revelation 2:7 “To the overcomer, I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
May it be so in Jesus’ name.