Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 12) — ‘Lovers of Pleasure More Than Lovers of God’

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Today, we turn our attention to the phrase, “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” We all like pleasure. Just the word “pleasure” fills us with the idea of good times, ease, enjoyment, and relaxation. The Greek word used for pleasure in this passage is philhedonos. From philos, meaning love; and hedone, meaning pleasure. Hedone is where we get our word “hedonism” from. Hedonism is the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the most important pursuit in life. It is the old philosophy of “eat, drink, and be merry.”

Now, there is nothing wrong with pleasure if that pleasure is obtained by good and righteous means. For example, sexual sin is pleasurable, but it is still wrong. However, the pleasure you gain from working hard and being able to enjoy a time of relaxation and rest is good. So, pleasure itself is not wrong. Pleasure is just a feeling. What God has a problem with is people loving pleasure more than they love Him — the One who gives everyone the ability to experience pleasure. Scientists tell us that there is a particular part of the brain — the locus acumbens — that allows us to experience pleasure. Do you know who put that particular piece in our brains? God did. He wants us to experience pleasure, and first of all the pleasure of knowing Him. So, God is not against pleasure.

Our passage today is speaking of the self-absorbed, self-gratifying activities of those who are not saved. They seek pleasure alone; they live for pleasure. They fill their lives with parties, events, food, “good times,” and expensive vacations. Even the work they do is done with the aim of being able to experience more pleasure in the future. Again, there is nothing wrong with these things; it becomes wrong when you love the pleasure you can experience more than you love God.

There is an addiction epidemic in our society today: people are addicted to drugs, alcohol, and pornography. Why do people become addicted to such things? Ultimately, they are seeking pleasure. They want to experience a certain feeling or a certain high again and again, and so they keep going back to whatever it is that gives them that feeling. A doctor and a researcher were called in by the Veterans Administration Hospital in Los Angeles to help them determine whether cocaine addicts could actually recover. The problem the hospital was having was that they would hospitalize young men for cocaine addiction. But after six months of treatment they were released, and within one day they were re-addicted. Even after all that time, these young men remembered the pleasure, the high, they got from cocaine and they went back to it. Our society is in the throes of addiction to pleasure.

Now, listen to these words from Philippians 3:18-19: “For many walk [who] are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Paul here is writing to believers, and he is speaking of those who are in the church yet who do not follow Christian teachings. Paul calls these people “enemies of the cross of Christ,” and describes them as having four characteristics.

(1) Their end is destruction. This means that the lifestyle that they engage in will ultimately prove to be to the detriment of their physical lives, and if they are not saved, they will ultimately be destroyed in Hell. All sinful pleasure ends in destruction.

(2) Their god is their belly. This phrase means that their chief concern is their own pleasure and satisfaction. It is not just talking about food here, although that is included; but their lifestyle is typified by the pursuit of temporal enjoyment. They are not concerned about God or the things of God — only themselves.

(3) Their glory is their shame. These people who claim to be Christians take pleasure in those things which they should be ashamed of. They wear those things as a badge of honor. We have preachers in the church today who wear fancy clothes, drive fancy cars, and live in mansions, while the people they are supposed to be leading and loving are struggling to get by. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

(4) Their mind is set on earthly things. Many Christians are trying their best to build up their little, earthly kingdoms with absolutely no thought for heavenly things. They are seeking their pleasure down here on earth while forgetting that greater, eternal pleasure could be theirs in Heaven.

So, this issue of loving pleasure more than loving God is not only in the world, but in the church as well. Did you know that for every dollar spent on missions, Americans spend $600 on luxuries? Data also shows that every year Americans and Canadians combined spend more money on tobacco than both countries have spent on missions since the discovery of America. We love ourselves and what we can get more than we love God and the gospel that still needs to be given to so many.

Dr. Archibald Hart, a clinical psychologist and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary, once shared a conversation that he had with a pastor. He said this pastor told him, “I can’t find pleasure in anything anymore. I used to enjoy preaching, but I just don’t find pleasure in it… And what scares me most of all is that I don’t seem to be able to take any pleasure in God anymore.” How many of us in the church today are like that pastor? We don’t really find joy and pleasure in God and in the things of God. Maybe we did at some time in the past, but now it is just a drudgery, and we are just going through the motions.

The Westminster Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer is simply, Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” If you are not doing that — glorifying God with your life and finding pleasure in your relationship with Him — you are really not living.

So, what is the solution for those of us who love pleasure more than we love God? Jesus Christ has some words for us as well. In Revelation 2, He told the church at Ephesus, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” This church had left the love of God and the love of Christ; other things had taken its place in their hearts. And, then, Jesus Christ says to them: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent.” There is a cure, there is a remedy for the excessive love of pleasure. It is repentance. We ought to look back on how things used to be between us and God, and then repent of our present-day sin of loving pleasure more than we love Him.

Since the death of Andrae Crouch, we have been singing his songs in our services here. One of the songs that he wrote is titled “Take Me Back”. Allow me to share some of that with you now, because that is what many of us need to do.

Take me back, take me back dear Lord
To the place where I first received you.
Take me back, take me back dear Lord where I
First believed.

I feel that I’m so far from you Lord
But still I hear you calling me
Those simple things that I once knew,
Their memories keep drawing me.

I must confess, Lord I’ve been blessed
But yet my soul’s not satisfied.
Renew my faith, restore my joy
And dry my weeping eyes.

I tried so hard
To make it all alone
I need your help
Just to make it home.

Take me back, take me back dear Lord
To the place where I first received you.
Take me back, take me back dear Lord where I
First believed.

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