Sunday, September 26, 2010

Perilous Times

Remember the scene from the movie Home Alone 2 when the kid is scared in Central Park and flags a taxi?  He says to the taxi driver, “It’s scary out there.”  The scary looking taxi driver turns around and says, “It ain’t all that great in here,” or something like that.

Well... this world we are living in is scary.  And whether you are looking at things on the domestic level (the economy... or politics... etc.) or on the international level (Al Qaeda... nuclear Iran... etc.) it is pretty scary no matter which way your turn.

That is why we find that the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy, written centuries ago, are as current as the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.

1BUT UNDERSTAND this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear].
2For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.
3[They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good.
4[They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.
5For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].
6For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with [the burden of their] sins [and easily] swayed and led away by various evil desires and seductive impulses.
7[These weak women will listen to anybody who will teach them]; they are forever inquiring and getting information, but are never able to arrive at a recognition and knowledge of the Truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-7 [AMP]

Perilous times will come in the last days... the days before Christ returns... the days we are living in.  The days that the bum with the sandwich board on the street are talking about.  Yeah... those days.

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. After all... these people are servants of satan and follow his behavior patterns.

What is surprising, however, is when we see these characteristics popping up within the church.  We cover this phenomenon from a couple angles in our book, Spiritual Fruits or Religious Nuts: but let’s address matters from Jesus’s perspective in the following scripture:

24Another parable He set forth before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way.
26So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (weeds) appeared also.
27And the servants of the owner came to him and said, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have darnel shoots in it?
28He replied to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out?
29But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat (weeds resembling wheat), you root up the [true] wheat along with it.
30Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers, Gather the darnel first and bind it in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my granary.
Matthew 13:24-30 [AMP]

In the above scripture, 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.

On the day of judgment, when all men and women will stand before a righteous
God, we may be surprised to see some people who were prominent in the church being judged.
No doubt, they may be even more surprised about that. 

So let’s do some expository on Paul’s words to Timothy and the members of the
body of Christ, and let us attempt to understand our scripture text and discern exactly what types of behavior
Paul was referring to in these perilous times we are living in:

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, or do you “look out for number one?”

And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
Luke 10:27 [AMP]

God’s very nature is to be gracious... to give.. to show mercy and
loving-kindness to you.  He wants us to do the same.

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!
Isaiah 30:18 [AMP]

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
John 3:16 [AMP]

If we are to walk after the image of our Heavenly Father, we need to walk after His example of selfless giving, not “get all you can... can all you get... then, sit on the can.”

THEREFORE BE imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].
Ephesians 5:1 [AMP]

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.

Some of them will stand in a pulpit and squeeze money out of people who can’t afford it in order to meet their own agenda.  And while they will take, take, take... they never give any of their own away.

In either instance... these covetous people have made material things their god... and we all know that you can’t take it with you.

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 “snake oil.”

The phony medicine pushed by these quacks promised to cure a wide range of illnesses. In reality, they did nothing to help people... but may make them sicker or even kill them!

Such individuals 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.

Despite all of this, Paul counted his credentials as worthless as the feces one flushes down the toilet.  Nothing could possibly compare to the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)
Philippians 3:8 [AMP]

Men Shall Be Proud (huperəphanoi)

The Greek word 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:

The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men--extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers--or even like this tax collector here.
Luke 18:11 [AMP]

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.

And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me.
Matthew 25:40 [AMP]

This type of attitude is illustrated in the following selection from our Psalms from the Pen of the Ready Writer volume 1:

Standing on the corner
Under pale moonlight
a little lady stands there
sordid merchandise

Just an hour later
in the shadows dark
another pint of vodka
numbs her wounded heart

Do you not see her?
How can you pass her by?
Where is your compassion?
Can you not hear her cry?

Walking through the front door
of our Sunday church
The little lady comes in
wants to stop the hurt

Laying on the sidewalk
ushers threw her out
‘How dare you show your face here?’
‘Thank you, please stay out!’

How could this happen?
How could it go this way?
What would you do if God
treated you the same way?

He calls us to love and forgive
to heal the wounded sin-sick souls
the church is a holy hospital...
(not a social club)

Standing on the corner
on her way to hell
a little lady stands there
merchandise to sell

What a sad occurrence
What a tragedy...
One question you should ask yourself

What if it was me?

Do you not see her?
How can you pass her by?
Where is your compassion?
Can you not hear her cry?

How could this happen?
How could it go this way?
What would you do if God
treated you the same way?

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 behavior has given God’s enemies an occasion to blaspheme. (see 2 Samuel 12 and Romans 2:24).

Any sin in the camp may affect the entire church (see Joshua 7; Joshua 22:20; and 1 Corinthians 10:6).

To quote R.W. Schambach:  “Get rid of your sin before your sin gets rid of you.”

There is even a free downloadable album on that very same topic located here.

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?

Mouse-over these scriptures:

  • Exodus 20:12
  • Deuteronomy 5:16
  • Matthew 15:4-6
  • 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 (1 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 (Astorgoi)

The Greek word 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 (aspondoi)

A trucebreaker 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 (Diaboloi)

If you speak Spanish, you will recognize the Greek 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.

A wise man once told me that the purpose of a lock was simply to keep honest men honest.  A dishonest man will break into a locked car or building and will steal.

In Galatians 5:23, self-control (”temperance” in the KJV) is a fruit of the Spirit. If you truly are Christ’s and are filled with His Spirit, then you will not be one such person.

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 (teutphəmenoi)

The Greek word 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 (philədonoi mallon ə philotheoi)

The Greek phrase refers 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 1 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 1 Corinthians 3:2).

They would rather gossip on the telephone than talk about the goodness of Jesus
(see 1 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...”

1THEREFORE, WHILE the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it], lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it.
2For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard (did believe).
3For we who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest, in accordance with His declaration that those [who did not believe] should not enter when He said, As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest; and this He said although [His] works had been completed and prepared [and waiting for all who would believe] from the foundation of the world.
Hebrews 4:1-3 [AMP]

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

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