Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 15) The End of False Teachers

end-of-the-world2 Timothy 3:1-9

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? The End of False Teachers (Part 15)

We have been looking at some of the specific signs which the Bible says will become increasingly evident in the behavior and lifestyle of people during the end times. In this series, we have looked at the following, all of which are mentioned in this passage: Continue reading “Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 15) The End of False Teachers”

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 14)

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Today, we turn our attention to verse six which reads: “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts.” This verse begins with the connecting word “for,” indicating that we must look back at the previous verse in order to fully understand what verse six is saying. As you recall, on last week, we talked about those people in the church who appear to have righteous and holy lives, but who inwardly are filled with sin and self. Often and unfortunately, these people who just have a form of godliness gain leadership positions in the church or in a local congregation. They then use their influence to deceive and lead astray others in the body of Christ. These are the people who are doing the “creeping” spoken of in verse six.

Back in the second century AD, one of the early church fathers by the name of Irenaeus reported the actions of a heretic by the name of Marcus. This heretic practiced magic and tried to get Christians to get involved in the practice of magic. Irenaeus reported that Marcus devoted “himself especially to women, and those such as are well-bred, and elegantly attired, and of great wealth.” Marcus told these women that by his spells and incantations he could enable them to prophesy. In one particular instance, a woman protested that she has never done so and could not do so. Marcus told her, “Open thy mouth, speak whatsoever occurs to thee, and thou shalt prophesy.” The woman, thrilled to the heart, did so and was deluded into thinking that she could prophesy. Irenaeus said the woman ‘then made the effort to reward Marcus, not only by the gift of her possessions (in which way he had collected a very large fortune), but also by yielding up to him her person, desiring in every way to be united to him, that she may become altogether one with him.’

In our passage today, Paul warns Timothy to be extra careful of such false teachers. A closer look at verse six tells us why this warning is necessary. It is necessary because these false teachers will “creep” into the body of Christ. The Greek word translated “creep” is “enduno.” It has been translated: to craftily sneak, to work their way into, to go secretly, to worm into, or to insinuate. In other words, many of these false teachers who only have a form of godliness will not walk into the front door of the church. They will not stand up in the pulpit on Sunday morning and preach their false doctrine. Rather, they will slowly start to influence the church members outside of the church. They will invite or accept an invitation to dinner with one of the families in the church and begin to little-by-little influence this person or a small group of people to adopt their way of thinking.

The word “enduno” comes from the Greek word used to describe a sunset. You’ve seen the sun go down many times, but in reality, you can’t say that you’ve actually seen the sun move. From our perspective, the sun moves so slowly that it is hardly perceptible. That is how these heretics will infiltrate a church. It will happen slowly. And the church will be like the proverbial frog being boiled to death. It happens so slowly that it doesn’t know what is happening until it is dead. Peter talked about this in his epistle when he said, “There were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily (privately, not publicly) shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them…”

Now, once these false teachers sneak into the church, what do they do? Our passage tells us that they “take captive” — they conquer or captivate God’s people with their false teachings. In his fine work on the Pastoral Epistles, Dr. Philip H. Towner stated: “First, false teachers prey on people who are vulnerable. They tend to pick off the spiritual stragglers. In this case, they had found success in certain homes or certain kinds of homes where vulnerable people lived. And in this case they captivated certain women. It was probably a very strategic move on the part of the false teachers to target these women: their position within households (perhaps as matrons) likely made them women of some means, who could support the movement. But the problem was not that they were women; rather, it was the kind of people they were: weak-willed, loaded down with sins, swayed by all kinds of evil desires. This description explains the susceptibility of these victims and crosses the centuries to speak freshly to us. The time element suggests that the sins that loaded down (or overwhelmed) these women were accumulations from the past that continued to determine behavior in the present. Unconfessed sin forms a barrier in our relationship with God, and it renders the decision-making faculty (the conscience) ineffective. Such ‘baggage’ weakens the resolve not to sin and gives strength to the desires of our sinful nature.”

Other commentators have noted that just as Eve was Satan’s first target, women today are often the target of Satan’s deceptions. Cults are not only often spawned by women, but women are the most numerous and devout adherents.

Now, none of this is said to disparage women altogether. Men can and have been led astray by false teachers. However, in the first-century culture to which Paul was writing, many women remained at home while their husbands were out working. False teachers apparently used this as an opportunity to influence the women of the church while their husbands were away. They likely felt that if they could get the woman to buy into their false teaching, then she would do the work of influencing her husband and thus the entire family. Marketers do the same thing today. They target little children in their advertising material, knowing that in many cases, if they can get the children to want something, the children will do the work of convincing the parents to buy it for them.

As Dr. Towner stated, many of these women were young believers and likely still struggled with some sin and/or guilt from their past lives. They were babes in the faith and easily influenced by someone who appeared to be knowledgeable about spiritual things. They were susceptible to the false doctrine of those who only had a form of godliness.

How about you, dear friend — men and women, alike? As you listen today, do you see the signs of someone trying to influence you with false doctrine in your life? You may not have a false teacher coming to visit your home. But maybe you’ve been reading their books, watching them on TV, or following them on the internet. They seem to be harmless, but little by little they are leading you away from the true counsel of God.

Men, women, and children, is there sin in your life that you are holding on to that could make you susceptible to false teaching? The devil wants you to believe that you can be a Christian and continue in that sin that you are holding on to. Have you fallen prey to this false teaching?

Husbands and fathers, you have a responsibility as the priest of your home to protect your family from false doctrine. Are you fulfilling that responsibility?

The command for those who are faced with false doctrine from people who only have a form of godliness remains the same: “from such turn away.”

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 13) — People Who ‘Have a Form of Godliness, but Deny the Power Thereof

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Today, we turn our attention to those who ‘have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.’ This is a sign of the times that is particularly relevant for those who are in the church. Just as sinners act like sinners, saved people ought to act like they are saved, and they ought to do so genuinely from the heart. However, sadly, that is not always the case. We, instead, have many people who only hold to a “form” of Christianity.

The word “form” refers to outward appearance or facade. It applies to those who do things in order to ‘keep up appearances’ before others. They appear to have a godly and pious life, they appear to be model Christians, but there is something amiss in their hearts. The Bible speaks to this condition several times.

Jesus Christ called out the religious leaders of his day for this type of false piety. He said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

That is how some Christians live their lives — like a pretty grave. They look good in church, like they have it all together. They sing, they serve, they share their testimony. But on the backside of the marble and white stone exterior, is a rotting, decaying skeleton. Behind closed doors, their family is not what it should be, they struggle with secret sin, their heart is really not into the Lord’s work as it should be. They only pay lip service to the principles of “Godliness”, but they do not apply those same principles to their own lives, and thus never experience the power of God that can transform their family, help them resist temptation, and set their heart on fire for God.

Have you ever seen a swan? A swan is a beautiful animal. But if you were to pluck those beautiful white feathers off of a swan, you would find that its skin is black. What would happen if someone plucked your feathers off? Will they find that you are just as godly on the inside as your outside appearance suggests?

What is this godliness we all ought to strive for? The word “godliness” comes from a Greek word meaning “well worship” or the right or true kind of worship. It is the attitude of a person who lives life with a sense of God’s presence and a desire to please and honor God in all that they do. Worship is not just singing songs on Sunday morning. We worship God when we act, think, and speak in a manner that honors and glorifies Him. We all ought to strive to live a life that is full of worship to God. When we are led by the Spirit of God, when our hearts are in the right place, and when we are obedient to God’s commands, we will experience the power of God in our lives.

Dr. Ed Hindson stated, “Most Christians and churches are powerless in the community. They only appear to be godly. Inwardly they are not because of sin.” If we want to see God’s power in our lives — healing in our families, spiritual revival in our churches, peace and compassion being demonstrated in our communities, we must lay aside our facades and the appearance of godliness that we hold to, we must turn away from our sins, and we must begin to live as truly godly individuals in this world.

Now, there are some who will not let go of their hypocrisy. They like to appear religious and pious, yet they do not want to let go of the sins they are engaged in. Some of these people are false teachers in the church who appear godly outwardly while preaching a message that is less than the gospel and leading the sheep astray. What should we do about such people? The latter part of our passage states, “from such turn away.” The command is simple: we ought to separate ourselves from those who have a form of godliness but deny its power. If someone who claims to be a Christian is leading a lifestyle that is contrary to the will of God, and if they refuse to repent, we are to separate ourselves from that person. You don’t have to be mean and hateful about it. Pray for them. Love them. But, do not fellowship with them lest their hypocrisy and ungodly living rub off on you.

In the late 1990s, an elderly couple was murdered in their home. Their pastor, John Canning, found them there and reported the crime. At the couple’s eulogy, he said that he was so close to the couple that he could call them Mom and Dad. But six weeks later, he was arrested and led off to jail charged with beating and strangling this elderly man and woman to death. The investigation found that this pastor had been given the power of attorney over this couple’s affairs and was abusing it. He was stealing their savings, and he killed the couple after they found out what he was doing. The police found that he waited a whole day to report their deaths. He spent that day at the beach and dining out with friends. One of the law enforcement officials who worked on the case said, “It’s the most despicable thing I’ve ever heard of. Of all the people in the world you should be able to trust, it’s your pastor.”

Sadly, not only pastors, but many Christians of all stripes are living lives of outward godliness but inner wickedness and evil. What we need more than ever today is the power of God that will bring about true spiritual revival and Biblical life change. But, that will not happen until we choose to get rid of our spiritual facades and become truly committed to worshipping and obeying God in our every thought, word, and deed.

Don’t be a phony and fake Christian — be real or get out!

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.

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 10) — A Look at Judases, Betrayers, and Traitors

end-of-the-world

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.

We have been looking at some of the specific signs which the Bible says will become increasingly evident in the behavior and lifestyle of people during the end times. In this series, we have looked at the following, all of which are mentioned in this passage:

1. The increased selfishness of man.
2. The increased lawlessness of man.
3. The increased religiosity of man.
4. Increased blasphemy or rejection of God.
5. Increased ingratitude or unthankfulness among men.
6. An increase in unholy living.
7. A lack of natural affection among people.
8. Trucebreakers and people who do not keep their word.
9. False accusers, slanderers, and people who cause division between others

Today, we turn our attention to the word “traitors.” Paul says that in the last days men will be “traitors.” The Greek word here means someone who is a betrayer or treacherous. It is only used two other times in Scripture. It is used in Luke 6:16 to describe Judas Iscariot. And it is used in Acts 7:52 where Stephen charges the Jewish religious leaders with betraying the prophets and Jesus Christ.

Speaking of betraying Jesus Christ, just this week, it was reported in TIME magazine that a Nashville megachurch has pulled a Judas and betrayed Jesus Christ who suffered and died for all sin by turning its back on hundreds of years of church doctrine and declared that it would allow practicing homosexuals to not only be members of the church, but to receive communion, receive baptism, dedicate their children, marry, and serve in leadership. I don’t know anything else to call that, but a betrayal of God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, and what the church has stood for for the past two thousand years.

Jesus Christ spoke of this spirit of betrayal in the last days when He said in Matthew 10:21, “The brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.”

When we think of the word “traitor,” we think of some infamous names in history: Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus, of course, but also Benedict Arnold who betrayed America; Brutus and Cassius who betrayed Caesar; Guy Fawkes who plotted to blow up the British Parliament; Ptolemy who invited Simon Maccabaeus and his brothers to dinner and then slaughtered them; Cain who killed his brother Abel; and Mordred who slew his father Arthur.

In Dante’s epic poem Inferno, Hell has nine circles. The lowest of these circles is reserved for traitors. In the very center of this circle is Satan, imprisoned in a lake of ice, for his betrayal of God. Satan is depicted as having three heads, and in each of his mouths is one of the worst traitors in history — Judas, Brutus, and Cassius — being gnawed upon for eternity.

In our exploration of these sins which will be increasingly demonstrated in the lives of men and women during the end times, we have seen time and again how the sins named in this passage repeatedly point back to two sources: selfishness and Satan. This sin of betrayel points back to both as well. Often, we refer to Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden as “the original sin.” But, perhaps, it would be better to apply this term to Satan’s betrayal of God — the very first act of rebellion in the universe. Everyone who engages in the sin of betrayal and treachery follows the path of the first traitor, Satan.

Not only is this sin tied to Satan, but it is also tied to selfishness. History shows us that people commit acts of betrayal for primarily personal reasons. Some do it for money; some do it for power; some do it to save their own skin; some do it for what they think is love. When someone commits adultery, they are betraying their spouse. When employees steal from the company they work for, they are betraying the trust of their boss. When politicians say one thing to get elected and do the opposite once they are in office, they are betraying the people who voted for them. When people who once claimed to be Christians turn against God and now say they are atheists — a situation which has been highlighted in the news several times over the past few months — they are betraying the One who loved them and gave Himself for them.

The painful thing about the act of being a traitor is that it occurs between people who are supposed to be friends or at least loyal to each other. Jesus Christ experienced this type of betrayal. His experience was spoken of prophetically by David in Psalm 55:12-13. He said, “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.” That is the painful thing about betrayal..

Lives are destroyed, friendships are ruined, and alliances are divided by the act of betrayal.

Not only should we look at the world and note the ruinous effects of betrayal, but we must also look at our own lives and hearts. Even though we profess to be Christians and go to church faithfully, we often turn our backs on God in our hearts. Anytime we let pride, selfishness, materialism, expediency, money, or lust take first place in our lives, we are engaging in treachery from the heart. In speaking of Judas Iscariot, Pastor Jerry Vines said he “had the life of an outward saint but the heart of the devil.” How many of us are like that today?

In this world, which the Bible describes as “sitting in the lap of the evil one”, people betray the trust and confidence that others have in them frequently. Let it not be so with us who serve a God who loved us so much that He sacrificed His only begotten Son to save us from our sins and the punishment of sin. Let loyalty and dedication to Christ be the hallmark of our lives in a world where betrayal and treachery is the order of the day.

____________

If you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you how you can trust Him for salvation so that you can be ready for His return.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and right now I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 8)

We have been looking at some of the specific signs which the Bible says will become increasingly evident in the behavior and lifestyle of people during the end times. In this series, we have looked at the following, all of which are mentioned in this passage:

end-of-the-world1. The increased selfishness of man.
2. The increased lawlessness of man.
3. The increased religiosity of man.
4. Increased blasphemy or rejection of God.
5. Increased ingratitude or unthankfulness among men.
6. An increase in unholy living.
7. A lack of natural affection among people for their family members, others, and even themselves.

Today, picking up where we left off in this passage, we are going to look at the word “trucebreakers” — another evidence of the perilous times that we live in and a sign that the return of Jesus Christ is ever closer. The Greek word translated “trucebreakers” literally means irreconcilable: those who are unwilling to be at peace with others, bitter haters, unyielding, covenant breakers, implacable, unforgiving, and not capable of being appeased. The Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines a trucebreaker as one who violates a truce, covenant, or engagement. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition defines a truce as a temporary cessation or suspension of hostilities by agreement of the opposing sides; an armistice or a respite from a disagreeable state of affairs.

A person who is irreconcilable is one who refuses to lay aside division and disagreement even when a solution or resolution is being provided. These are people who are constantly at war with others. It is almost as if they cannot live without conflict.

People who break their promises, breach contracts in business, or break agreements in the political world fall into this category. Older people sometimes reminisce about the time when a man’s word was his bond, when he would tell you that he was going to do something, and the only assurance you got was a handshake. But, today, we are living in times where trucebreakers abound. Whenever you make a financial transaction or some other type of agreement, you have to read the fine print and sign on the dotted line today no matter how trustworthy you or the other party claims to be.

People even sign agreements regarding marriage. Some go into marriage promising to stay true to their spouse for life, yet they have already signed a prenuptial agreement stating how the couple will split money and property if they get a divorce. So before they have even said their vows, they are already thinking about breaking them. And we wonder why the divorce rate is so high. Dr. Bruce Hurt states, “The breaking of the marriage covenant between husband and wife and the consequent skyrocketing divorce rate is one good example of this sin [of trucebreaking or being irreconcilable], because in it’s ‘purest’ form, divorce is a resolute refusal to forgive the other party, producing an unforgiveness ‘set in cement.’ Both parties refuse to change, no matter how desperate their own situation becomes, and are determined to have their own way regardless of the consequences, even to the point of knowingly destroying their own lives and the lives of their families. They do not forgive and do not want to be forgiven. They are beyond reasoning and inevitably self-destructive. As far as they are concerned, there is no compromise, no reconciliation, no court of appeal.”

The sin of trucebreaking and being irreconcilable has wreaked havoc in families and across societies around the world down through history. We see several examples in the Bible from the very beginning of time: Cain and Abel, Lot and his children, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Saul and David, David and Absalom.

A recent popular History Channel miniseries was the “Hatfields & McCoys” — based on a true story of a family feud which ran for 25 years. In 1865, one member of the McCoy family joined the Union army and was branded as a traitor by others in the community. When he returned from the war, he was killed by one of the Hatfields, and from there the families and their allies got into a cycle of violence and retribution that ended with 12 people dead. There are some people who would live like that today — taking the law into their own hands when they feel they have been wronged — if it were not for the systems of government that we have in place today.

As we live in a world where many people break their promises, do not keep their word, and refuse to reconcile with others, we are reminded of Jesus’ words: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Ask yourself: Are you a peacemaker in your home? In your family? On your job? In your church? In your community? Do you bring people together, or are you a source of division and enmity? Are you willing to forgive and reconcile with those whom you disagree? Do you keep your word?

In these last and evil days, Jesus Christ wants us to set an example before the world of being peacemakers as we await the return of the Prince of Peace.

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 7)

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

In recent days, following the deadly terror attack at the office of a newspaper in Paris this past week, world leaders have once again sounded the alarm over the threat that radical Islam poses to Western civilization. This is not the first time that we have heard words of warning which tell us that this extremism seeks to destroy the way of life of those nations which hold to the principles of freedom, democracy, and liberty. Yet, we must be reminded, that it is not only forces from outside which can destroy a nation, but forces from inside which can destroy it as well.

Perhaps the greatest empire the world has ever known — the Roman Empire — met its demise not only at the hands of the barbarian tribes of Europe, but even more so by its own moral decline and descent into debauchery. Historians tell us that this decline in morals was evident even among the rich, the upper class, the emperors, and the politicians of Roman society. Promiscuous sexual behaviour was rampant. It is said that emperors such as Tiberius engaged in homosexuality; Nero had an incestuous relationship with a servant; Marcus Aurelius forced a woman who had taken a vow of chastity into marriage; and Commodus not only had a harem of concubines, but he enraged the Roman populace by sitting in the theatre dressed as a women. This decline in morals at the highest levels of society predictably affected the general population. Not only was sexual promiscuity rampant, but there was widespread gambling and drunkenness. And, of course, there were the bloodthirsty crowds always ready to be amused by gladiatorial combat in the Coliseum; and or the killing of Christians. Now don’t be shocked at the Romans, for the rich and powerful of today are at least being accused of doing the same things. Do these names ring a bell… Prince Andrew, President Bill Clinton, power lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and media mogul and America’s former father Bill Cosby, just to name a few.

In these dark days, we must consider whether the greatest threat to free and democratic nations is not simply Islamic extremism, but moral and spiritual decline from within. U.S. Ambassador Henry Grunwald said, “For freedom to be workable as a political system, there has to be strong inner controls; there has to be a powerful moral compass and sense of values.” As we study Scripture in light of what we see happening in our society today, we cannot help but think that our society is losing its moral compass and its sense of values. And, what we have been studying in Second Timothy over the past few weeks attests to that.

We have been looking at some of the specific signs which the Bible says will become increasingly evident in the behavior and lifestyle of men during the end times. We talked about those who are so proud they are “unthankful” to God for the life He has given them as well as those who lead “unholy” lifestyles.

Today, we are going to turn our attention to the phrase “without natural affection.” As you know, the Greeks had four different words to describe the four types of love. There was eros — erotic or romantic love or lust; phileo — the love one has for their friends; storge — the love one has for their family members; and agape — the selfless, sacrificial love. The Greek word used for “without natural affection” or “without natural love” is astorgos. The prefix “a” meaning without and “storgos” meaning natural love or affection.

Paul is saying that people will not even have natural, normal love for their own family members in the last days.

Many people have decried the reportedly 50% divorce rate in our society. Many people have decried the epidemic of fatherlessness in our society. If you’ve paid attention to the news over the past few years, it seems as if there has been an increase in the number of mothers who are trying to kill their children. Our justice system will tell us that they are mentally ill. The Bible says they do not have natural affection. But not only them: fathers who abandon their responsibilities do not have natural affection for their children either. Husbands and wives who divorce do not have natural affection for each other or for their children. Some young people don’t like the family they were born into; they don’t have natural affection. People don’t have natural affection, and we wonder why we have a crisis of family breakdown in our society.

Let’s take a closer look at the word “astorgos.” Scholars tell us that the word was also used to mean cold or heartless. It was used by the Greeks to describe a woman who committed adultery with multiple men because she was said to be incapable of loving one man as her husband. The word was also used to describe some species of animals who abandoned their young. We would use this word astorgos to refer to a man who is a cold-blooded killer — who can kill someone while they’re saying the Lord’s Prayer and have no remorse.

William Barclay notes that the age of the Roman Empire was “an age in which family love was dying. Never was the life of the child so precarious as at this time. Children were considered a misfortune. When a child was born, it was taken and laid at the father’s feet. If the father lifted it up that meant that he acknowledged it. If he turned away and left it, the child was literally thrown out. There was never a night when there were not thirty or forty abandoned children left in the Roman forum. Even Seneca, great soul as he was, could write: ‘We kill a mad dog; we slaughter a fierce ox; we plunge the knife into sickly cattle lest they taint the herb; children who are born weakly and deformed we drown.’ The natural bonds of human affection had been destroyed.”

The lack of natural love is what leads to abortion, parents abandoning their children, domestic violence, and estranged husbands and wives using their children to manipulate each other. This lack of natural affection is also what leads to suicide — people don’t even have a normal, healthy love of self.

What can we do in a day and time when the family bond has weakened as it has? Christian families are not immune to the epidemic of natural affection growing cold. Those who are in the church seem to have just as many family problems as those in the world. Well, we as Christians, have something at our disposal that the world does not have. We have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us to guide us and direct us.

The Holy Spirit helps us do that which we cannot do on our own. When a lack of natural affection begins creeping into our hearts toward our spouse or toward our children or toward our parents, we can rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to help us choose to love our family members with God’s agape love. Remember, agape love is the selfless, sacrificial love unconditional. It is the kind of love that says, ‘This may not be what I want, but I choose to do it because it is the right thing to do for the sake of my family.’ When storge (family) love fails, you can always rely on agape love to pull you through

It was agape love that caused God to send Jesus to earth in the form of a man. It was agape love that caused Jesus to go to the cross despite the fact that He did not deserve to die and we did not deserve to live. Because God and Jesus showed agape love for us, we ought to show agape love to our family members and to others whom we come in contact with each day.

Even as the love of many grows cold in these perilous times, our love ought to grow hotter and hotter, not because of who we are or because of our feelings, but because of what God has done for us.

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 6)

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

At the beginning of this new year, many of us are naturally inclined to adopt a spirit of optimism regarding the future. The symbolism of an old year passing away and a new year coming into view gives us the ability to look at the world with fresh eyes and to give ourselves a clean slate. We can’t help but think that things will be better this year, that we won’t make the same mistakes, and that the world will learn from the failures of the past year. However, often, that is not the case. As the exuberance of New Year’s Day wears off, we look around and see that the world is still pretty much the same — or worse.

A recent Reuters news article stated the following: “From financial crisis in Russia to cyber warfare with North Korea, 2014 has generated new flashpoints right into its final days, setting 2015 up to be just as turbulent. Almost all of the major confrontations, such as the battle with Islamic State militants, the West’s stand-off with Russia over Ukraine and the fight against Ebola, will rumble on. Others could erupt at short notice.”

“A 2014 report by the Institute for Economics and Peace showed that world peace has been in decline for the seventh consecutive year since 2007…”

Despite this negative news, one good thing about the progress of time and the coming of the New Year is that, although we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will return, we do know that today in 2015, we are closer to Jesus’ Second Coming than ever before. And, as we look around, we see signs in the behavior of human beings that point to that return, to the end of time, and to the end of the world.

One of those signs which we talked about last week is that people are becoming increasingly “unthankful” to God. We learned that this ingratitude is connected to pride because an ungrateful person is not willing to humble himself or herself and admit that they would not be where they are in life without God and others.

Next, Paul turns our attention to those who are “unholy.” The Greek word translated “unholy” is “anosios” — the prefix “a” meaning without, and “hosios” meaning holiness or righteousness. One of the commands we receive from God is “be ye holy for I am holy.” God is perfect and righteous, and we as Christians ought to be striving to emulate Him.

However, we live in a world that is not conducive to those who wish to be holy as God is holy. We do not live in a world that celebrates and encourages those who wish to live godly. In fact, later in this same chapter, Paul writes, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

When we look around at our society, we see that unholy living is often highlighted as something desirable or at least something that is approved of, permitted, applauded, and promoted. Ask yourself, what is celebrated on much of reality television and in much of the movie industry? Greed is celebrated and glorified as people are encouraged to pursue money and material riches. However, the Bible tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Violence and killing is highlighted in movies and video games. However, the Bible tells us that “the Lord…hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” “Coming out” as a homosexual is celebrated and applauded by secular society and even governmental officials such as President Obama and Vice President Biden. However, the Bible tells us that such a lifestyle is an “abomination” in God’s sight. Our society views it as normal for two unmarried people to be sexually involved with each other and live together. However, the Bible tells us to “flee fornication.” We could go on and on with more examples that show how holy living is not the norm for most in our society.

However, the unholiness that Paul is writing about goes even deeper than just people breaking the laws of God. William Barclay states that “Men will refuse to recognize even the ultimate decencies of life… This unholiness does not so much mean that men will break the written laws; it means that they will offend against the unwritten laws which are part and parcel of the essence of life.” For a Greek living in Paul’s day, it was ‘unholy’ to refuse to bury a dead body or to commit incest. There didn’t have to be any laws written against such things; they were just wrong and everybody knew it.

The unholiness that is becoming more evident in the last days is the unholiness of men and women who sin not only against God and against their fellow human beings, but they sin against nature and against themselves. The person who lives an unholy lifestyle is driven by self-love to gratify his own lusts and passions with no thought to propriety, decency, or reputation. I hope none of us here today ever fall to such a level.

We should value holiness and righteous living just as God values it. We should avoid, at all costs, anything that would cause us to sin or displease God. James tells us that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is… to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.”

In the forests of northern Europe and Asia lives a small animal called an ermine. The ermine is known for its snow-white fur in winter. It instinctively protects its white fur from anything that would soil it. Fur hunters take advantage of this unusual trait of the ermine. They don’t set a snare to catch him, but instead they find his home, which is usually a cleft in a rock or a hollow in an old tree. They smear the entrance and interior of the ermine’s home with grime and dirt. Then the hunters set their dogs loose to sniff out and chase the ermine. The frightened animal flees toward its home but it doesn’t enter because of the filth. Rather than get its white coat dirty, the ermine is trapped by the dogs and captured — however, its clean coat is preserved. For the ermine, purity is more precious than life.

Ask yourself if you are willing to go to great lengths to be holy and to live in a way that is pleasing to God. It may be tempting to turn our backs on righteous living and simply do as we please, but we are commanded to be holy in an unholy world, righteous in an unrighteous world, Godly in a world where many are rejecting God godliness, and light in a world of increasing darkness. The 19th century theologian John Brown said, “Holiness…consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.”

In this world of increasing evil and peril, may we start thinking as God thinks, willing as God wills, and doing as God would have us to do.

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 5)

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

This past week, thousands of people in Indonesia marked the 10 year anniversary of one of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history. On December 26, 2004, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck in the Indian Ocean triggering a powerful tsunami that smashed into the shorelines of 14 countries with over 100 foot waves, demolishing towns and killing more than a quarter of a million people around the region. A young lady who was working with the International Red Cross recalled landing in Indonesia two days after the tsunami struck. She said the words of the people who met them first when they arrived were simply, “Go back, go back, go back! This is hell. This is the end of the world.”

As we look around at the turmoil, unrest, war, persecution, violence, hatred, immorality, and animosity in our world, I feel that some of us would be inclined to describe our situation like those Indonesians did ten years ago — “This is hell. This is the end of the world.”

Well, the Bible tells us that it is certainly getting near to the end of the world. So far in this series, we have looked at three broad topics that indicate that we are nearing the end times: (1) Increased selfishness, (2) Increased lawlessness, and (3) Increased religiosity. In our last message, we talked about the increase of “blasphemers” — those who reject God, the laws of God, and the people of God.

The next sign that Paul talks about is that of those who are “unthankful.” The Greek word used here is “acharistoi” (A-KA-RIS-TOY), which literally means “without grace.” The prefix “a” means without and “charis” (KA-RIS) means grace. One of the things we all ought to be thankful or grateful for is the grace offered to us by God. The meaning of the word translated “grace” is to show favor or kindness to someone. God showed favor and kindness to humanity by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins so that we could have a home in Heaven.

However, Paul tells us that in the last days, people will be ungrateful or unthankful. They will despise the gift of God and the grace of God. They will turn their backs on it and reject it. This word tells us that there will be people who are utterly devoid of feelings of gratitude to God.

Last week, we talked about “blasphemers”, and included in their number are atheists who say there is no God. If they do not believe in God, they cannot and will not be thankful toward Him for the simple everyday blessings that they experience — blessings such as life, health, strength, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to stay. Since they reject God, they cannot be grateful for the greatest blessing — Jesus Christ himself.

A person who is ungrateful refuses to recognize the debt they owe to God and others. This kind of ungratefulness is closely connected to pride. An ungrateful person feels that they have made it on their own, that everything they accomplished they accomplished without the help of others and the favor of God.

Imagine a child who is ungrateful. They wouldn’t be born without their parents. They wouldn’t have survived without their parents. Their parents fed them, clothed them, made sure they grew up healthy, facilitated their education, and so on. And, yet, the child refuses to say “thank you,” and he or she acts as if everything they have gained and accomplished they did on their own. Of course, no child in their right mind would have this kind of perspective. Simply put, they would not be alive without their parents. Yet, many people go through life acting as if they are completely responsible for their own success and achievements.

The words of King Lear remain true: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!” As a parent, you wouldn’t appreciate such an attitude in a child. However, God has to put up with that kind of ingratitude from His creation every day. He has to put up with self-centered people who refuse to be grateful for their very lives.

John MacArthur said, “The person who elevates self above all others will feel he deserves everything good he receives and therefore feels no need of gratitude for it. Although he may not put it into words, the ungrateful person despises the very idea of grace, which denotes goodness received that is undeserved. This is a particularly noxious sin to God, whose wrath is revealed against sinners for being unthankful.”

Dear friend, you are alive even though you don’t deserve it. Most of us ate today even though we don’t deserve it. Most of us have some kind of clothes and shelter even though we don’t deserve. Many of us have reached several milestones in life even though we don’t deserve it. Most of all — whether we have taken advantage of it or not — God sent Jesus Christ to this world to save us from our sins, even though we don’t deserve it.

We can’t do much about the ingratitude of those who have rejected the grace of Jesus Christ. But everyday, we can make a choice to be grateful, thankful, and appreciative of the physical, material blessings that God has given to us as well as the most important blessing of life which is salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 4)


TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

end-of-the-worldAs we noted in our last message on these perilous times, the signs that Paul writes about here in Second Timothy are indicators of the spiritual and moral condition of the age in which we live. Not only does the Bible speak of wars, rumors of wars, diseases, epidemics, famines, earthquakes, and signs appearing in the sky, but the Bible tells us that the hearts of men and women — particularly those who are not illuminated by the Gospel of Christ — will grow colder, darker, and more evil as we near the end times. Just tonight, as I preach, the New York City Police Commissioner is holding a news conference concerning the tragic, senseless killing of two good policemen by someone who is claiming to get revenge and justice for two black men who were killed at the hands of police. Evidently that person didn’t know that God said: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” He took vengeance into his own hands and then killed himself. We are living in perilous times. We are living in dangerous times. We are living in frightening times, and you had better be praying without ceasing and obeying God. We have warned you in a previous message that demonic forces are trying to start a race war in America, and we are praying that cooler heads will prevail and that no one will bite the bait.

In his collection of essays titled The World’s Last Night, writer and apologist, C.S. Lewis, said, “the idea of the world slowly ripening to perfection, is a myth, not a generalization from experience.” And the experience of the world has shown that we are most certainly not moving toward a utopia. Before the first World War, there were many who subscribed to the belief that mankind was improving and that the world was getting better and better. But after the devastation of two World Wars and the nuclear-laced tensions between the East and the West during the Cold War, that view understandably declined. Today — after the events of 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the constant threat of terrorism, Europe on the verge of conflict, and the rise of groups such as the Taliban, ISIS, and Boko Haram — no one in their right mind would say that the world is getting better and better.

But, in this passage, Paul draws our attention to the condition of men’s hearts, because, as Jesus said, it is from the heart that evil — wars, violence, and such — comes forth. What are some of these indicators? So far we have looked at:

– Increased selfishness: Men and women are becoming “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud…”

– Increased lawlessness: People simply do not want to obey authority and abide by rules and regulations. Paul describes these people as “disobedient to parents… trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good…”

– Increased religiosity. Many people today ‘have a form of godliness.’ Not only in the church, but in the world, people have something that looks like true religion, but is not actually a real relationship with God.

Today, as we continue looking at this passage, we are going to look at the increase of what Paul calls “blasphemers.” The Greek word for “blasphemer” means a reviler or one who reproaches or speaks ill of God. Particularly in the Jewish and Christian contexts, this word was used to describe someone who loudly and boldly rejects God and the principles laid out in His Word. A blasphemer is one who not only disagrees with God, but takes it on himself to verbally assault God, God’s people, and God’s word.

In Psalm 36:1, the Bible speaks of those who have “no fear of God before their eyes.” They have no respect or holy reverence for God, and thus, they casually discard His law and refuse to obey it. They live life the way they want to live it, and they despise those who try to tell them of their obligation to a holy and righteous God who does not wink at evil.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the rise of the “new atheists.” Just a few decades ago, atheists would not dare express their views in public. But, today, with such men as Richard Dawkins, the now-deceased Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, Stephen Hawkins, and others, atheists have stepped out of the shadows and are boldly taking on those who believe in God. Just this holiday season, an atheist organization is running anti-religious billboards specifically targeting deeply religious areas in America. Atheists are challenging schools, colleges, military bases, and workplaces to keep God, Christianity, and any reference to religion out of public spaces. These people would like to erase God and the idea of God from the national psyche and replace it with the worship of science and knowledge — the very same thing the serpent told Eve she would gain if she disobeyed God. .

An article in the magazine New Scientist stated that atheists and evolutionary scientists are speaking “with an evangelist’s zeal” and are “ready to fight the good fight.” Even now, they are attempting to position themselves to set evolution “in place of God.” Paul predicted the rise of blasphemers, and it is coming true in our day.

What is the Christian to do about the blasphemers of our day? Well, first of all, we must not fall into living like atheists and God-rejectors ourselves. Not too long ago, Pastor Craig Groeschel wrote a book entitled “The Christian Atheist” in which he talked about the condition of practical atheism that many Christians have. Dr. David Jeremiah defines “practical atheism” as ‘being a theist in mind but an atheist in heart and action… [a] Christian theist is one who believes in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, yet lives as if they don’t believe.’ These are ‘people who profess to be followers of Christ yet do not honor Him in their lives.’

If we are to be salt and light in the world, we must live as if our belief in God actually matters. We must allow the transforming power of Jesus Christ to be evident in our lives. We must let our light shine so that all people — atheists and non-atheists — will be drawn to the light of the world who lives inside of us.

A well-known modern atheist, Bertrand Russell, is reported to have said, “Nothing can penetrate the loneliness of the human heart except the highest intensity of the sort of love the religious teachers have preached.” It is the Christian’s job to put the love of Christ and the message of Christ on display, and to proclaim it boldly, so that those who blaspheme God will have a reason to reject their blaspheming ways and begin to believe in, love, and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.