2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 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. Avoid such people.”
I do believe we are now living in these times. And this isn’t talking just about people out in the world. These attitudes and behaviors have crept into the body of Christ, and so much of the church has adopted these worldly attitudes and actions as “normal.”
The “gospel” that is being taught in much of today’s church only supports and advances these attitudes and behaviors. For it teaches that a mere confession of Christ as Savior guarantees salvation from sin for life regardless of how a person lives his life on this earth.
Some people are diluting the gospel even further by teaching that God requires no repentance, no obedience to his commands, and no submission to him as Lord of their lives. In fact, they teach against such holy living by calling it “works-based salvation,” which is to be avoided, in their eyes.
Thus, the by-product of this cheapened grace and diluted gospel is many people calling themselves “Christians,” but who are lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, abusive, ungrateful, unholy, without self-control, not loving good, and who are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
In fact, this seems to be the mindset of most of today’s market-driven state churches, which are corporations of men, not the body of Christ, although some of the body of Christ may gather together with them. These state churches are very much geared to appease human flesh.
So, if you are teaching on holiness and godliness, you will likely be an outcast, and you may even be invited to leave these corporate churches (which are of men, not of God), which is actually a good thing, for that is not where the Lord wants his people anyway.
Yes, they will have the appearance of godliness by calling themselves “the church,” but if Christ is not their true head, and if the Word of God is not primary and foundational for all that they do, and if the Holy Spirit is not the one leading them, counseling them, and showing them the way they should go, but they are following marketing books and humanistic philosophy, instead, then they are denying the power of God and we are to avoid them.
2 Timothy 3:6-9 ESV
“For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.”
And this isn’t just about men who creep into households and capture weak women burdened with sins. This is about certain people who have crept into the gatherings of the church largely unnoticed who are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (See Jude 1:3-4).
They are serving in positions as pastors and elders and Bible study leaders, and they are leading the people astray to follow a flesh-driven gospel which does not put sin to death, but which allows it to thrive and survive. Thus, they are leading people to dishonor Jesus as Lord.
So, although they have an appearance of righteousness, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing who oppose the truth of Jesus Christ and his gospel, and who have been diligently working for years to destroy the gospel so that no one will follow and obey the Lord.
The problem presently is that their folly has not yet become plain to all, but the vast majority are following these men blindly, because they say what the people’s itching ears want to hear. They whisper to the people “sweet nothings,” and the people love it, and are craving for more of the same.
2 Timothy 3:10-13 ESV
“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Although they may be few and far between, there are still Christians out there who are following the Lord with their lives. They are not perfect people, mind you, but they are not under the control of sin, but they are under the Holy Spirit’s control, living to please God.
We need to ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to such people, even on the internet, so that we have godly influences in our lives, and so we can have genuine Christian fellowship with other believers, too, for so many today are going the way of the world, and are not following the Lord Jesus.
Yet, we should guard against becoming followers of men, and we should remain followers of Christ and of his Word. And we should allow the Holy Spirit to be the one to counsel us in the way that the Lord would have us to go. As always, we should test everything we hear in prayer and in the Word of God to make certain that what we are listening to is truth.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Some of us did learn the truth from early on. I was blessed of God to be in a church fellowship from birth which taught the truth of Scripture regarding salvation from sin, eternal life with God, and holiness and godliness. We were taught to take God and his word seriously.
But, no matter at what point in your life you became a follower of Jesus and you began to learn the truth of God’s word, we are commanded of God to continue in him and in his word to the very end. And this continuing is not intellectual, but it is applying the Scriptures to our daily lives.
And we are not to confine ourselves to the New Testament Scriptures only, for there is much to learn from the Old Testament, even regarding Jesus Christ and our salvation, and with regard to these last days before the return of Christ. We just aren’t under the Old Covenant requirements.
But being under grace is not a free-for-all where we can live however we want. For Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. Thus, we are to surrender our lives to him, and we are to walk in obedience to his commands, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. And we are to learn from the teachings of Scripture how to live holy and godly lives, pleasing to our Lord, for this is how we show him that we love him, by obeying his commands (1 Jn 2:3-6).
By Ann Aschauer
Well, some folks think that “love” means emotion,
So it comes and goes their whole life through.
Some folks never know that when the magic goes,
If you keep on lovin’, it’ll come back to you.
I was so afraid we’d lose the special feeling,
And someday we’d find our love wasn’t true,
But then God opened up my eyes and made me realize,
Love is not what you feel, it’s what you do.
And so we stood side by side at the altar,
As our wills and God’s power combined.
With His help I could say, “I do love you today,
And I will for a long, long time.”
c 1987 Ann Aschauer
Used by permission