But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV)
My first thought as I read this rant (that is what it sounds like) is that Paul had insight as to what it would be life in our century. But then, he is warning Timothy and so he expects Timothy to face these last days. Often the term “last days” in the New Testament is used to refer to the time between Christ’s resurrection and return for judgment. It may even be a reference to the last days leading up to Christ’s judgment upon Jerusalem which fell on 70AD.
As for today, is it to be expected that people get worse? I wouldn’t say that human nature has changed, but it is certainly true that the further we get, as a culture, from the restraining influence of a Biblical worldview, the more we will see this kind of living on display. Our country has enjoyed the worldview of our forefathers, many of whom came to establish a “City on a Hill” that would influence the world for Christ. But the remnants of that worldview are fading away as far as the politically correct way of thinking goes. The further we get from that restraint, the more we will see this description of people to be true. It is simply further down the path that our country has been walking. God is simply giving us over to our own choices.
It is the last phrase that really gets me, “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” This list of character traits is that I would connect to someone with an appearance of godliness. And yet, there it is. Then again, it seems that churches today have plenty of people who live one way Sunday afternoon through Saturday evening, and another way on Sunday morning. They deny by their living the power of the gospel to renew and transform. Am I among them?
O Lord, you know my heart. You know my weaknesses and my fears. You know my temptations and my struggles. Cleanse me from my sin and wash away my sinful desires. Reorder my loves that I might find you my greatest treasure! Reorder my life that I might be a good and faithful servant of Christ, that I might fight the good fight and carry out your mission for my life, for the glory of Jesus. Amen.