But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)
Read: 2 Timothy 3
Consider: In the third chapter of Paul’s second letter to Timothy he talks about the last days. When you read his description of the attitudes people will have, it is very easy to see it as applying to our time and to come to the conclusion that we are in the ‘last days’. Personally, I don’t know how close we are to Christ’s return, but I do know that he will return at the appointed time.
We hear a lot about love in our society and even in the church. There are those who think that Christians must demonstrate an attitude of love above anything else. This has resulted in some denominations increasingly turning away from the authority of God’s Word to the authority of man, all in the name of love. ‘Love at all costs’ has become the mantra used by an increasingly secular church.
Look again at what Paul says in 2 Timothy:1-5 and you will notice that there is no shortage of love being mentioned. From ‘lovers of themselves’, to ‘lovers of money’ and ‘lovers of pleasure’ these people demonstrate love, but love that is misdirected. Paul even describes them as ‘without love’. What he must mean is that the love that is apparent in their lives is not directed towards God and then to man, but instead directly to man, cutting God out of the equation.
What is missing is that the people Paul describes are not ‘lovers of God’. Does this refer to those outside the church who by definition have no love for God? Read further with me and you will notice that Paul talks of these people as having ‘a form of godliness but denying its power’. This is the bit that is concerning, as Paul seems to be describing some people in the church. I suppose today we would call these people ‘churchy’, as they outwardly have an adherence to a church or denomination, but their ‘belief’ in God doesn’t equate to real love, or acceptance of his authority over their lives.
Should we be surprised that there are people like this in every denomination throughout the world? Probably not, as we are warned in many places in the Bible of the infiltration of false teaching and beliefs into the church. What is difficult is Paul’s exhortation to ‘Have nothing to do with such people’. There will be some who will say that applying this to our churches today would mean that we are guilty of not showing love to our fellow men and women. The question for us is how do we show love to others? By agreeing with everything they say, or adopting the standards of society? Surely it must mean that we show God’s love in society by having a real concern for the spiritual welfare of the lost, that is willing to speak the truth in love.
Pray: Father, we pray for those people in our churches who haven’t been brought to a point of submitting themselves to your will in accepting Christ’s forgiveness. We recognise that they might see themselves as good people, but not see their need of forgiveness. Give us the courage and boldness to share the truth of the gospel with them, trusting your Holy Spirit to bring them to a point of repentance. Amen