Lovers of Pleasure or of God?

Times of Difficulty
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.”

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned against God, and we were, thus, all born into sin with sin natures, these things have existed in human hearts and in people’s actions and words. So, none of these things are new. Rather, they are increased in severity to the point to where they become the norm more often than not, and so they stand out.

The sad reality in all of this is that these things describe not only those who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but that they describe many of those who do profess faith in Jesus. For, there is not much difference these days between those without faith and those who profess to have faith in Jesus. For often their attitudes, words, and actions are the same.

Not everyone is like this, praise the Lord! But I believe we are seeing a huge increase in severity of what this describes here in our present time, including within what is called “church.” Even the faith in Jesus that is commonly being taught today is based in self and in what God/Jesus can do for us, but not in how we can honor, obey, and submit to him as Lord.

For, the predominant gospel being taught today makes no demands for repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord. Instead, it gives free license for its adherents to continue living in sin, only now without guilt, without remorse, and with no fear of punishment for their habitual, deliberate, and premeditated sinning against God.

Since many people are professing faith in Jesus Christ, but they aren’t dying with Christ to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness, and thus they are still dead in their sins, they are still living like the unsaved, the ungodly. They are still lovers of self, unholy, without self-control, reckless, loving pleasure rather than God, and appearing righteous, but denying its power.

We are to avoid such people. We are not to be partakers with them in their lifestyles and in their adulteries. It doesn’t mean that we treat them with hate, for we are to love even our enemies. And we are called out into the world to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ungodly. But we must be careful regarding our associations so that we don’t get dragged down.

For, bad company corrupts good character, and evil is often stronger than good, and there is a danger of being influenced by, and becoming like, and blending in with those we are around so that we end up losing our witness for Christ and we end up straying from our pure devotion to the Lord. As believers in Jesus, we need the encouragement of one another.

Among them are Those
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.”

There are many people in this world and within the gatherings of the church who are skilled at manipulation, charm, smooth talk, and persuasive words, who know how to talk others into sin. They know how to spot those who are emotionally and spiritually weak, and they are skilled at convincing them to do things they might not have otherwise done.

They are not guilty of the other people’s sins, but they are guilty of leading others into sin. But those who sin bear the guilt of their own sin, for they had a choice to listen to the lies and to follow them, or to refuse them and to follow the truth instead. And this is one reason why we must stay strong in our faith so that we don’t fall prey to being led into sin.

And this is another reason, too, why we must use wisdom and discretion regarding our close associations, and why we must pray for wisdom regarding friendships and partnerships. For there is no fellowship between light and darkness, and if we are not careful, we can become more like the people of the world rather than becoming like Jesus.

And this includes our choices of church fellowship. If we choose to participate in gatherings of the church (or what is falsely called church) in which a diluted gospel is being taught, and we are being pushed to believe that Jesus requires of us no repentance, submission, or obedience to our Lord, we are subjecting ourselves to following those who oppose Jesus, and who oppose his gospel, and we are in danger of being led astray.

The Godly are Persecuted
2 Timothy 3:12-14 ESV

“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. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.”

Paul had just finished (in vv. 10-11) describing his walk of faith and the persecutions he suffered for his faith at the hands of those who were opposing the Lord and his gospel. And then he went on to tell us who follow Jesus with our lives that we will also be persecuted in like manner.

Why will we be persecuted? Because we are living godly lives, holy and pleasing to God, and we are sharing the truth of the gospel of our salvation, and the enemy doesn’t like that. And that is an offense to those who are perishing because it reminds them of their own sins and the fact that they have not surrendered their lives to Jesus.

For, there are liars and deceivers, wicked people, people who are evil, who are impostors, who pretend one thing while they live another, and so they persecute those of us who are living righteously, because what we live and what we believe is an offense to them.

But we who are in Christ Jesus, by God-given faith in him, are to continue strong and steadfast in our walks of faith and in teaching the gospel of our salvation with others, and for the salvation of human lives, despite all opposition against us For…

“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” (vv. 16-17).

Broken and Contrite

An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.

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