Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Perilous Times

Perilous Times

Paul’s words to Timothy, written centuries ago, are as current as the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.

2nd Timothy 3:1-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perilous times will come in the last days... the days before Christ returns... the days we are living in.

What Are “Perilous Times?”

The word “perilous” in the original Greek text is the word chalepoi which means fierce, perilous, hard to live in, troublesome, dangerous: harsh, fierce, full of troubles and dangers; times that are hard to bear.

It is not very surprising when we see such characteristics in the people of this world. What is surprising is when we see these characteristics popping up within the church. In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus tells us that the tares (a plant that looks like wheat) will be allowed to grow along side the wheat until the time of harvest. They may outwardly resemble Christians, but without any spiritual fruit.

Men Shall Be Selfish (philautoi)

Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (see Luke 10:27), or do you “look out for number one?”

God’s very nature is to give (see John 3:16). If we are to walk after the image of our Heavenly Father (see Ephesians 5:1), we need to walk after His example of selfless giving, not “get all you can... can all you get... then, sit on the can.”

Men Shall Be Covetous (philargooroi)

They will be lovers of money more than lovers of God or their brethren. They would rather spend extravagantly than bring tithes into the house of God. They would rather be gluttons than donate food to the poor. They would rather watch television than hear the gospel.

The world says to love things and use people. We need to love people, and use things to bring glory to our Father. The members of the early church shared all that they had. Why don’t we?

Men Shall Be Boasters (alazones)

This word was originally used to describe a “quack” doctor who went from town to town, trying to sell medicines that he claimed would cure illnesses. These people claim to have the answers, but they really do not. Their religion is just empty pretending.

Are you an empty pretender? Do you parade about, trying to pass yourself off as something you are not? Does God get the glory or do you pat yourself on the back?

Paul had much that he could have bragged about. He was a Pharisees’ Pharisee. He was an eloquent speaker. God handpicked him. Yet, Paul counted his credentials as worthless, in comparison to the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Men Shall Be Proud

The Greek word (huperəphanoi) means “to show oneself above.” These persons not only think too highly of themselves, they despise others. We see an example of this spirit in Luke, chapter 18:

Luke 18:11

      The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Have you ever bristled upon encountering a drunkard, a homeless person, or perhaps a prostitute on a street corner? Remember it is only God’s grace that you are not out there.

Men Shall Be Blasphemers (blasphəmoi)

These people speak evil, slanderous, or abusive words against God and/or men. They are quick with criticism and put-downs. Some comedians on television joke about growing up in church while reviling God and all that He stands for.

Although you may never have taken God’s name in vain, maybe your lifestyle has given God’s enemies an occasion to blaspheme. (see 2nd Samuel 12 and Romans 2:24). Any sin in the camp may affect the entire church (see Joshua 7; Joshua 22:20; and 1st Corinthians 10:6).

Men Shall Be Disobedient to Parents

If you have unsaved parents, keeping your room clean and your chores up to date will win them to Christ a lot faster than nagging them about church or slipping gospel tracts into their sandwiches. Do you honor your mother and father? (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 15:4-6 and Ephesians 6:2).

Men Shall Be Unthankful (acharistoi)

These ungrateful ones take and take, but never stop to say “thank you.” You should “Count your many blessings... see what God has done.” This brings glory to God and gives you strength in times of trial. David praised God for delivering him from the jaws of the lion and the bear. This, in turn, gave him the confidence and spiritual fortitude to defeat Goliath (1st Samuel 17:36).

Men Shall Be Unholy (anosioi)

They offend all that is holy, not satisfied with simply practicing their wickedness but desiring to drag others into their lifestyles.

Men Shall Be Without Natural Affection

The Greek word Astorgoi, is the opposite of “to cherish affectionately with family love.” Today, children shoot and kill without a twinge of remorse. Proverbs 12:10 describes these people perfectly... even their “tender mercies” are cruel.

Men Shall Be Trucebreakers

A trucebreaker (aspondoi) cannot agree to or refuses to enter a covenant. They are dishonest and not trustworthy. They reject salvation, since this is a covenant relationship between man and God (see Acts 3:25).

Men Shall Be False Accusers

If you speak Spanish, you will recognize the Greek word Diaboloi word as meaning, “the Devil.” Satan is a slanderer and a false accuser (see Revelation 12:10). If you accuse your brother or sister in gossip conversation, you are sitting in the devil’s seat.

Men Shall Be Incontinent (akrateis)

This does not refer to a weak bladder, but a lack of spiritual or moral self-control. In Galatians 5:23, self-control (”temperance” in the KJV) is a fruit of the Spirit.

Men Shall Be Fierce (anəmeroi)

These men are “brutal” or “savage.” Like wild beasts, they pounce upon their prey and mercilessly rip it to shreds.

Many people will walk past someone in the sanctuary and mercilessly rip him or her to shreds with their tongue. These people are savage... fierce.

Men Shall Be Despisers Of Those That Are Good (aphilagathoi)

They are opposed to goodness and those who stand for right. They campaign for animal rights but seek to kill unborn children. They bring homosexuals and lesbians into schools, yet protest the idea of the Bible in school.

Men Shall Be Traitors (prodotai)

This is treacherous behavior. Be diligent to lift one another up in prayer. Don’t betray your family in Christ. Stand in the gap for them lest the enemy hinder them.

Men Shall Be Heady

Are you rash, reckless, or hasty? Do you wait on the Lord, doing things decently and in order, or do you disregard leadership and do things your way?

Men Shall Be Highminded

The Greek word (teutphəmenoi) literally means, “conceited.” Are you proud, or lifted up with pride? Do you become blinded with pride?

Men Shall Be Lovers of Pleasure More Than Lovers of God

The Greek phrase reads: “philədonoi mallon ə philotheoi,” referring to those who would rather seek their own pleasure than God’s will and purpose. Does evening service interfere with your game? Does prayer meeting interfere with your television watching?

That is not to imply that there is no pleasure in serving God. King David said that he was glad when they said unto him, “let us go into the house of the Lord.” Are you glad about serving God, or do you see your “religious duty” as a ball and chain?

Men Shall Have A Form of Godliness, But Deny the Power Thereof

You may have an outline or a semblance of piety towards God, but your actions show that you have an estrangement with the power (or, Dunamis... dynamite dynamic Holy Ghost power) of God. You talk a good talk but you don’t walk the right walk. You may sing and shout. Your tearstains may be on the altar. However, are you able to walk holy before the Lord?

Turn Away From Such Men (and Women)

Some of the most charismatic people in our society (politicians, entertainers and false religious leaders) fall into one or more of the categories that Paul describes.

If any of this applies to you, turn away from sin, submit yourself to God and resist the devil, then satan will flee from you (James 4:7). Submit yourself to the cleansing of God’s holy word (John 15:3).

Protect Your Family

In verse 6, Paul tells us that such people sneak (insinuate themselves) into the house/family/property/wealth/goods of others like an insect crawling through a crack in the wall. Be vigilant to protect your family from those who would lead them away from the path of righteousness.

Are You A WIMP?

These people capture or make captive weak-willed individuals. In verse 6, the KJV reads, “silly women.” However, the context of the Greek suggests that this is not strictly a reference to women, but may also refer to what we would call a “wimp.” If a man is not fulfilling his role as head of his family, he may be a “weak willed little woman” (see Ephesians 5:33 and 1st Timothy 5:8). Of course, this verse also applies to women who fail to maintain God’s standards of virtue (i.e., Proverbs 31:10-31 and Titus 2:3-5).

Paul says that these “wimps” are loaded with the consciousness of many sins (failure to hit the mark, committing bad actions or evil deeds; possibly through an error of understanding). They are “Prisoners of War” to satan and his army of demons. These people would rather fry their brains on lust-filled soap operas than feed themselves God’s word (see 1st Corinthians 3:2). They would rather gossip on the telephone than talk about the goodness of Jesus (see 1st Peter 4:11).

These people are setting themselves up to be “led captive” by the people of these perilous days. Do you want to be satan’s prisoner of war... or do you want to be free?

What Impulses Motivate You?

At the end of verse 6, Paul describes these people as being led away (literally, moved by forces and impulses affecting the mind) with many types of lusts, desire, craving, longing, and desire for that which is forbidden. Harlequin Romance Novels, “Swimsuit Editions” and R-rated movies create such impulses.

Is Your Bible Study Fruitful?

In verse 7, we see these “wimps” constantly increasing their knowledge, yet they are never able to come to the precise and correct knowledge of things that are ethical and divine (the truth of the gospel). They are implacable by virtue of their own ability and resources, their state of mind, and/or their customs.

The seven most dangerous words for church leaders is, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Don’t reject God’s moving because it clashes with tradition. Don’t resist change because you are not willing to accept the truth. Don’t hear sermons Sunday after Sunday without it getting out of your head and into your heart.

Many people have their own agenda for attending church. Some go for social or political reasons. Some go to find a husband or wife. Some go to have their good deeds outweigh their sins. The scriptures describe exactly what benefit they get out of their “religiosity” or “churchianity...”

Hebrews 4:1-3

      1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

      2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it].

      3For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Be steadfast in prayer and Bible study if you wish to survive these perilous times.

No comments: