Continuing with the verses on corruption found in 2 Timothy, Derek takes a look at God’s statement that He will make all things new. Nothing of the old is going to persist. The third principle of the perilous time ahead is the most important of all. It is the root of corruption and of moral decline: the love of self. Out of this defect, all other evil characteristics developed.
Corruption, moral corruption, ethical corruption is irreversible. Once it’s in the situation or a person or a community, it cannot be reversed. And God has no program to reverse the corruption of sin. He’s not interested in Christianizing our culture. So God says, “I’m not going to mess around with it. It can’t be saved. All I’m going to do is produce something totally new.” There are three Scriptures about this. 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation...”
That’s God’s solution. Not improving, not patching up, but producing a totally new creation. Everyone of you who are in Christ here tonight, God has made and is seeking to perfect as a new creation. If you are here just a nice kind of person who does nobody any harm, maybe goes to church on Sunday, but has never had a life transforming experience with Jesus Christ, you are not in God’s plan. You are lost. You have to change. You have to be changed by God. “If anyone is in Christ Jesus...” And it doesn’t say, “he is...” It’s very dramatic in Greek—”a new creation.” It should come with an exclamation mark at the end. That’s what God is going to do. Don’t offer Him your good works, your religious efforts, your niceness. One of my granddaughters got involved—and I have so many you wouldn’t know who it was—got involved with an unsaved man. Her father, who is my son-in-law, was speaking to her about that, and I praise God she was rescued. She made the right decision.
“But,” she said to her father, “he’s such a good man.” My son-in-law replied, “Hell is full of good people.” Can you grasp that? Hell is full of nice, good people, but they’ve never been changed. Corruption has never been dealt with.
Then in 2 Peter 3:13 God goes a little further. Peter is speaking about God’s program and he says,
“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
So God is not only going to make new people, He is going to make a new heaven and a new earth in which there will be no sin. Sin is going to be totally banished forever from the presence of God. If you have sin in your life and you do not repent, you are going to be totally banished forever from the presence of God. You cannot make sin acceptable to God in any way whatever.
So God is producing a new creation. He’s going to produce a new heaven and a new earth. Then the most amazing statement of all is in Revelation 21:5 where John records this,
“Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ [Nothing of the old is going to persist. It’s all going to be done away with. Then He says to John,] And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’”
It seems to me that John couldn’t really believe that that was going to happen. So the Lord said to him, “Put it down. It’s all true. It’s all going to happen. I’m going to make all things new. There’s going to be no corruption left. No taint of sin. No stains. Not even any guilty consciences.” That’s God’s program. As high above our program as heaven is above earth. So that’s the second principle. Corruption is irreversible. It’s irreversible in our society. It’s irreversible in this nation. It’s irreversible in the world. It’s hard to accept that fact, but when you can see it and see the alternative, your heart will sing for joy.
The third principle is the most important of all. Let me repeat the first two. The basic cause of these terrible times, these fierce times, is the degeneration of human character. Any solution that bypasses that will fail. Any solution that doesn’t deal with human character is doomed to failure. Second principle, corruption is irreversible. Physical corruption, moral corruption, ethical corruption; it’s irreversible. So God is not going to mess around, try to patch it up, improve it. He’s going to do away with it and produce a new creation.
This is the most important one, especially for us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. The root of the corruption, the root of the moral decline is stated in the first word—love of self. That’s the root out of which all these other evil characteristics developed. Selfishness, self-centeredness, caring for me, putting myself first. Paul says, “People can have a form of godliness but they deny its power.” What is the power of godliness? It’s the power that deals with self-love. Because so many of you are—whatever you want to call us, Pentecostals, Charismatics, whatever—you would be inclined to say that the power is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, miracles, healings. Well, it’s not. Thank God for all those things. But the only power that’s relevant here is the power that can change a selfish, self-centered person into a loving, outgoing, caring person. If we don’t have that—we may have all the other things; the tongues, the miracles, the prophecies—but we are denying the power of godliness. I want you to ponder on that for a moment because it is so very out of line with much of what’s being said and taught in the contemporary church.
There is a hunger for power. I believe it’s a natural soulish hunger. Some psychologists have said that the desire for power is the strongest single motivation in humanity. It’s not evil, but let’s desire the power that works. Let’s desire the power that changes lives, particularly that changes selfish people into unselfish people. Is there selfishness in the body of Christ tonight? Certainly there is. We don’t demonstrate the power of godliness. That word godliness is such that I don’t believe Paul would ever have used it except to professing Christians. He’s not talking about the world. He’s talking about people who claim to be Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, that have never dealt with self-love in their lives.
You know what I feel like praying right now? “God deliver me from selfishness.” I grew up an only child, no brothers or sisters. My family were fairly prosperous, not extremely wealthy, but they always had enough. Everything in my childhood and background caused me to focus on myself. And it’s taken me many, many years as a Christian to realize how easily I can become self-centered. So my prayer, “God deliver me from selfishness.” Would you like to pray that? Think it over for a moment. Would you like to pray that from your heart? Let’s all say it together shall we? “God deliver me from selfishness.” Say it again. “God deliver me from selfishness.” Once more. “God deliver me from selfishness.” Amen. May it be so, Lord.
Now, I just want to do something to acquaint us, confront us with the situation in our nation today. The result of self-love, the result of backslidden church that doesn’t present the truth and demonstrate it, because this nation of the United States has had a greater share of God’s blessing than any other nation that I know of in history. No other nation has been blessed spiritually, materially, culturally, in every way as the United States of America.