“This know also, that in the last days perilous times should come” (2 Timothy 3:1).
Paul wrote several epistles (letters) to individuals who were partners with him in the ministry. He wrote to Timothy twice, Titus and Philemon. The books of First and Second Timothy are referred to as the Pastoral Epistles, as well as the book written to Titus. These two young men were understudies (students) of the great apostle. He took special care instructing them in the affairs of the local church. He reminded them of their responsibility to ensure proper polity within the church (Titus 1:5). He also reminded them of their responsibility of teaching and preaching to the local church (2 Timothy 4:1-2).
Paul was well aware of the spiritual condition of the world and also the spiritual condition of the church during these days. As he wrote words of exhortation and encouragement to Timothy, he also wrote words of warning to this young preacher. The church had long become a vital target for the fiery darts of the devil. His target was not the building, but the believers of those local assemblies. Paul knew that the unspiritual believer could be greatly influenced both in attitudes and actions from the fiery darts. He knew, too, that these unspiritual believers could have devastating effects on the ministry of the local church. The concern of the apostle is evident in this second epistle to Timothy as he wrote the words, “This know also….” Paul exhorted young Timothy to watch carefully for certain spiritual indicators that would develop during the “last days.” Although Paul gave a long list of attitudes and actions that would surface in the last days, he mentions one word three times, but in different attachments—the word “love.”
In the last days, men will love themselves. Men will plan and build their lives around themselves. They will never be satisfied; they will always boast of their accomplishments. They will be too proud to be corrected or to admit error and there will be a frightening breakdown of family values and ties. They think of nothing of lying for personal benefit (2 Timothy 3:2-3).
In the last days, “men will become lovers of pleasure” (2 Timothy 3:4). This kind of love is not just a sensual, sexual love, but it also involves pleasures of life and luxury. Recreation becomes more important than just about anything. People want to be able to “feel good” that they are doing something they enjoy, apart from spiritual activity or involvement. They attempt to bring many worldly pleasures into the church in order to justify their personal pursuit of pleasure.
In the last days, “the love for God” will diminish at an alarming rate...even in the church (2 Timothy 3:4) There will be a “form” of godliness, i.e., an image or impression, an outward semblance. In other words, there will be many who “act” like Christians. The sad fact is, they will deny the power of God, i.e., His influence and control in their lives. They are very comfortable with this empty life and seek to persuade others to follow their ways. Their influence on the unlearned and unspiritual is not just demoralizing, it is destructive.Do we see this scene developing today? Sadly, we do, and it is without a doubt because we are in the last days. Beware, Christian, beware! Pray diligently that our church does not suffer from this type of love.
Pastor H. Preston Parker