We finish this week by looking at eighteen distinct moral blemishes that are prevalent in the last days—including the love of self, love of money, and love of pleasure. These are rampant in the end times, with the corrupting influence of the occult in many various forms aiding in this breakdown. The only remedy for these things, the only place of security and strength, is in the Word of God.
So, we come down back to 2 Timothy 3, which is where we were before.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come (Dangerous times, tough times,) Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
There are eighteen distinct moral blemishes in that list. We won’t take time to go into them all. But, in the time that I’ve lived in the western world in nations such as Britain, the United States, Scandinavia, Germany, nations which I’m familiar with, almost every one of these moral blemishes is much more manifest than it was fifty years ago. Many of you who are in the same sort of age bracket that I am will agree with that statement, I’m sure. We have witnessed a process of corruption in our society, and it’s continuing. And, it cannot be reversed. The only solution is a totally new beginning.
But I want to point out to you three things that are very significant. There are three loves that really are the root of all the problems. Love of self, love of money and love of pleasure. I would say European culture and society, including Britain, is dominated by those three features: love of self, love of money, love of pleasure. And you see, love of self is what leads to the breakdown of society because, “I’m so important to myself, I can’t live with anybody. Nobody is good enough for me. Nobody does things the way I want.”
Statistics show that in the United States today the average number of people in a household is 1.7. Two people can’t live together any longer. What’s the cause? Love of self. “I want things my way. It’s my convenience that matters. I’m important. Cater to me. And if you don’t, take care of yourself, I’ll get on without you.”
Love of money, I think the one major spiritual power that dominates western society is mammon. Basically, in the contemporary culture today, if a thing makes money, that justifies it. No other argument is needed. Even pornography is called a billion dollar industry.
And you see, I think justice is impossible where the love of money prevails because rich people can get away with anything. They can buy their way out of anything. They’re just as guilty in most cases as the poor but their wealth is a protection, for the time being. But remember, not forever.
And then love of pleasure. There was a slogan that went right through the United States that sums it up: “If it feels good, do it.” That’s the contemporary way of describing love of pleasure. But I’ve talked to many people who were in the Jesus movement in the 1960’s, 1970’s. They discovered that though it felt good it didn’t do good. And at the end of ten or fifteen years they were wrecks, physically, morally and spiritually.
Then the next phrase is the most frightening of all. That’s in verse 5. At the end of this list it says:
“...having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.”
Now, I don’t believe the Bible would call anything that was unchristian godliness. So we’re talking about some for of Christianity, but it’s a form that denies its power. In the context, what is the power that is denied? The power to change people. So now we don’t call homosexuality sin, we call it a sickness. We don’t try to change them, we just arrange ways to live with them.
And incidentally, homosexuality is just one sin amongst countless others. I’m not singling them out by any means, just pointing out that basically the church has lost the faith to see people change. And so it invents ways to live with them the way they are.
And then it says, and this is even more impressive in a way:
“From such people, turn away.”
Leave them alone. Don’t waste your time on them. Paul was talking to Timothy as a minister. He says if people are not willing to change, leave them to themselves. How much time is wasted in contemporary Christianity by counseling people who will never change? I have a friend who was a minister in Australia, he’s retired now. A very successful minister with a large congregation. He had a number of young pastors working under him. One day he said to them, “All your books on psychology and counseling, I want you to throw them away. From now on we’re going to counsel people only out of the Bible.” And then a couple came to him whom he had been counseling for several years, with marriage problems, and he said to them, “From now on I’m not going to counsel you because you’re disobeying the word of God.” He said to the husband, “The Bible says love your wife. You don’t love your wife.” He said to the wife, “The Bible says be subject to your husband. You’re not subject to your husband.” So he said, “I’m not going to deal with you. Until you will obey the word of God I have no more time for you.” What a lot of time he saved himself!
I mean, I have spent hours in counseling in the past. I’ve counseled many people who wanted deliverance from demons but I learned to say something. If they had too many theological problems and too many questions, I used to say this, “Deliverance is for the desperate. You’re not desperate. Come back when you are.”
So, I believe that’s all part of what Paul said to Timothy. Leave them alone. Don’t waste time on people who will not change. If a person is willing to change, God will go to endless lengths to help them. But if they want to stay the way they are, God leaves them to themselves.
Well, we must go on. If you look at the rest of this chapter, and I won’t deal with it, you’ll find that the secret undermining force is the occult. We’ll look quickly in verse 8:
“As Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so these also resist the truth.”
Jannes and Jambres were the two magicians who had a contest with Moses and Aaron. That’s the first witch’s covenant mentioned in the Bible, the magicians of Egypt in Exodus 4.
But behind the corruption of human nature is the subtle, deceiving, corrupting influence of the occult. And that’s the force that hastens the corruption.
And then in verse 13 Paul says:
“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Now where this translation says “impostors”—let me say I’ve learned Greek since I was ten years old. The Greek word is enchanters. Evil men and enchanters will grow worse and worse. In other words, incantation is one major form of occult practice. Again, it’s the occult. And I have come to the place in my own view where if there are prolonged problems that cannot be resolved in a church, in a life or in a home, somewhere behind it is the occult. And you will not really resolve those problems until you get to that root.
Now we come to the remedy, and with this I’m going to close for this afternoon. In 2 Timothy 3:16:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God...”
Can you say amen to that? Not some scripture but all scripture.
“...is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction and righteousness...”
A very well known minister in this country—if I mention his name, every one of you would know it—was arguing against the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He said the book of Acts is not given for doctrine. But the Bible says all scripture is profitable for doctrine, for instruction and righteousness.
“...that the man of God might be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
There’s only one thing that can thoroughly equip you, it’s the scripture.
And then we come on to the fourth chapter and there’s no chapter division in the original text.
“I charge you, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom...”
Notice the savior is also the judge. He will judge the living and the dead.
“...preach the word.”
What is the answer? The word, that’s right. There’s no other place of security, there’s no other place of strength, there’s no other place of real fruitfulness but in the word of God.
May God help us to be faithful to His word. Can you say amen?