THE DIFFICULT LAST DAYS
2 TIMOTHY 3:1-9 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
11 SEPTEMBER 2022
This passage speaks about the last days of the existence of this earth we call home. Paul teaches Timothy what he needs to know and what he can expect to happen in the last days.
He speaks of a ‘form of godliness;’ that is, a form of religion, but without the necessary power accompanying it. That form of religion or godliness brings selfishness, pride, and all the things of evil, opposing all that is good and pure.
In the last days, there will be times of stress because of the character of people at that time.
Times of stress are times that are difficult to endure. We have all experienced stress and know how it affects our lives. Those times are difficult to get through. They are difficult to deal with.
The Christian worker will find them especially stressful times because he or she will be working against the spirit of the world – whom we know as Satan.
This is nothing new. The Apostles didn’t preach and teach people who were eager to hear their message of the Gospel. Their audiences were not always the easiest crowd to preach to. And, very often, they were even safe in the environments where they preached. The atmosphere they preached in was often hostile.
But, with the closeness of the coming again of the Lord the difficulties and the stress are more intensified.
Sometimes our difficulties come because of a mistake in timing. The time is just not right to do what we want to do or have to get done. But there is nothing like that in the first-century church. There was no mistake in timing there, or in the medieval church, or in the church today.
No mistake has been made in our expectation of the return of Jesus Christ. We have simply been waiting, anticipating, and obeying until the day comes.
Another argument has often been promoted --- that is the evidence of the moral collapse of the masses of the people of the earth --- the apostasy – the falling away from the church and the Lord. Rebellion against God is a characteristic of an age of violence.
We have wars and uprisings all over the world and the moral decay, the falling away of many increases as we endure these wars and rebellions. These have always occurred and will continue to rise up until the Lord returns.
So, why should we see them as signs of the last days? The answer may lie in this----- that they may not be the sign but are just signs.
These are the stimuli that cause us to believe that the Lord is going to return and that we must be ever watchful and expect it at any time.
READ: 2 Peter 3:8-13
Now, let’s look at the characteristics of the Latter-Day Man
They will be lovers of themselves – self-lovers.
These are so extremely interested in themselves that they are not willing to listen to the message of the Gospel. If fact, they don’t even realize or accept that the Gospel is something that is of benefit to them.
And, if they did happen to listen to the Gospel it is likely their attitude would be to ask: “What is in it for ME?” What can I get out of it? Most are interested in godliness only if it brings great personal gain or power for them.
READ 1 Timothy 6:3-6
Those are the Lovers of Themselves. Now, let’s look at another set of Lovers – the Lovers of Money.
They believe that money can do anything and everything. And, if they possess monetary wealth, they become proud of that fact. They are apt to become boastful and claim more than is justified.
John tells us in his First letter 1 John 2:16 – “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” And, Janes has something to say about this boasting as well, in his letter at 4:16 – “But, as it is, you boast in your arrogance, all such boasting is evil.”
These lovers of money come to the false conclusion that they have the future in their hands and they can determine and manipulate everything and everybody.
So, they say, “Why bother about salvation?” They become arrogant and haughty when they are approached with the question of their salvation.
In their arrogance, they become abusive in their treatment of those who are trying to bring them to Christ.
They shout obscenities at God, blaspheming Him.
They have become disobedient to parents who may have taught them the way of salvation. But they have lost their way and yielded to Satan and to the world. They feel they owe their parents nothing. They want to be free to choose to live life as they please. And, in fact, they are free to choose to walk away from God and His salvation.
‘This brings them to an ungrateful attitude toward anyone who would dare love them enough to pray for them and attempt to lead them to Jesus. And to let them know that there is a judgment coming and that judgment will determine where they spend eternity.
They consider themselves as self-made persons and, as such, if they worship at all, they worship themselves. Because, after all, if they are self-made persons, would it not follow that they are their own creator?
The self-love person continues without love. They remain without forgiveness. They will never make a truce or become reconciled to their enemies because they are unforgiving.
Those who ignore the truth of the Gospel and the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ continue as slanderers and accusers. They remain without any self-control because there is nothing within them to restrain their anger and their passions.
They continue lives of untamed, brutal, savages ready to devour those who do believe and trust in our Living God.
They hate the reflected light of the light of the world – Jesus Christ, as He is described in Matthew 5:14 – “For you are the light of the world. A city set out on a hill cannot be hidden.”
And Jesus mentions these in John 3: “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”
The Lovers of Darkness throw caution to the wind. They have no regard to what kind of disaster or punishment might come to someone else.
The Lovers of Pleasure live by this: they must please themselves in every part of life – business, social, even in the family circle.
Paul makes a comparison here: He says self = 0%; God deserves 100%. But the lovers of self get that backward. They love themselves and love God not at all.
Godliness is the practical life of the Christian in his personal dealing with God. When we love our neighbor and do right, we are righteous. When we love the Lord our God and practice His way toward Him, we are godly as Paul writes to Timothy (1Tim 6:11): “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness,” To flee means avoid them, take a detour around them so we don’t become involved in their practices.
For the Christian, sin, in every form is to be avoided. Jesus prayed that His disciples would be kept from the evil one. But He did not pray that they would be taken out of the world to avoid them.
It is, for us, a matter of being in the world without allowing the world to be in us.
Avoiding is not a physical separation, but it is a spiritual one. Freedom from contagion or infection. The sins, ideals, and activities of the world are not to be shared and entered into, but as persons, they are to be won to Christ.
Separation, then, is an inner attitude, not a holier than thou attitude. It is an attitude of commitment to the Lord, and a resolution to be obedient to Him. True separation from the world is found in Matthew 6:13 where Jesus teaches His disciples (and us) to pray: “Lead me not into temptation.” (Matthew 6:13).