2 Timothy 3:1-9 ESV
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people… 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 is a false gospel which is permeating the church, at least here in America, which is giving its adherents permission to be lovers of self, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. For, it requires no repentance. It requires no turning away from sinful lifestyles to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands and in surrender to him as Lord (owner-master).
They have this attitude that Jesus did it all for them so that they don’t have to do anything. They teach the gospel as though Jesus accepts us just as we are, and that he includes us in his family even if we refuse to change, and even if we refuse to honor him as Lord. They expect God to forgive them of their sins, and to free them from the punishment of sin, and to guarantee them his heaven when they die, even though they refuse to submit to him.
So, they have the appearance of godliness because they profess to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and perhaps because they attend church services regularly, but they deny the power of godliness in their lives, because they deny Jesus his rightful place as Lord, and because they refuse to surrender their lives to him and to walk according to his commands.
But they are not content with just teaching this false gospel, but they are also on the all out attack against the true gospel of grace. For they want to try to force or persuade us off the narrow road which leads to eternal life. And they want to try to prove that the true gospel is false, and that the false gospel is true, and they are convincing many people of just that.
For, they are confusing “clean” and “unclean.” They think they are clean spiritually just because they make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, even if it means that nothing changes in their lives, but that they go on living for sin and for self-pleasure. But “clean” means unadulterated and morally pure, because we are delivered from bondage to sin by God’s saving grace.
So, if we are taking the true gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, in the power of God’s Spirit, we are being opposed strongly by those who are promoting this “other gospel.” They will attack us with their lies, and they are attacking the true gospel with lies, too. For, they twist some of the Scriptures to their advantage while they ignore all the ones that teach what they don’t want to hear, and what they don’t want to adhere to.
So, they try to convince people that the true gospel of grace is legalistic and that it is teaching “works-based salvation” which they are to reject. And so they are pedaling a half-truth gospel which appeases human flesh rather than putting it to death. And many people are following it because it does not require them to forsake their sins or to obey the Lord.
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… 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.”
If we are true believers in Jesus Christ, not in name or in profession only, then we will be those who are following the teachings of Paul and those of the other apostles and the teachings of Jesus. And to follow means to obey, to do what the word teaches, and not to be hearers only (Jas 1:22-25).
So, if we are going to obey the word of God, then we need to know what it teaches, so we must read and study the Scriptures in context. I know that not everyone can do this, but if you are on the internet, biblehub.com is a wonderful site for reading the Scriptures in various translations and for looking at the literal translations, too, which help us to understand verb tense (this is important) and context, too.
For, we aren’t under the Old Covenant like the Jews of old were, i.e., we don’t have to obey all those old ceremonial, liturgical, and sacrificial laws that God’s people had to obey before Jesus died on the cross for our sins. But we are not to be lawless. We still have to obey the commands of God, but they are the ones repeated for us in the New Testament.
And if we hold to the teachings of Jesus and his NT apostles, and we are giving out the gospel as they taught it, we will be persecuted by those who are opposing the gospel and who are spreading a false gospel which appeals to human flesh and which gives humans permission to keep on living in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord without guilt.
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.”
So, the encouragement here is for us to not get sidetracked by those who are teaching this false gospel, but to continue in the truth of the gospel which we have learned from the Scriptures, and which we have firmly believed. For these charlatans who are teaching this false gospel can be very convincing, and they can try to make us feel guilty for holding to the truth.
And don’t avoid the Old Testament just because some of it is not directly applicable to our lives today. There is much truth which is taught in the Old Testament which is repeated for us in the New Testament, and the Old Testament has many prophecies about Jesus Christ and these last days, too, and many good examples to follow and bad ones to not follow, too.
For all Scripture, even if some is not directly applicable to our lives today, is still God’s word, and it still teaches holiness, righteousness, obedience, and love for God and for our fellow humans. There are biblical principles to be learned from the whole Bible, if understood in the proper context. So, dig into the Scriptures, and study them in context, and then pray for the Holy Spirit to lead you to all truth and to expose the lies so you don’t follow them.
All I Ask of You
by Andrew Lloyd Webber
No more talk of darkness,
Forget these wide-eyed fears;
I’m here, nothing can harm you,
My words will warm and calm you.
Let me be your freedom,
Let daylight dry your tears;
I’m here, with you, beside you,
To guard you and to guide you.
Let me be your shelter,
Let me be your light…
Love me, that’s all I ask of you
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The above lyrics are taken from a secular song, “All I Ask of You,” but these quoted lyrics express God’s words to us, that we would let him be our freedom, that we would let him shelter us and be our light, and that we would find our hope, and our peace and safety in him and not in the things of this dark world. All he asks of us is that we love him, which means we submit to him as Lord, and we obey his commands.