As you read what I am about to present please do not lose heart.
I believe that the season we are in will present to true, Bible believing, Holy Spirit led Christians the greatest opportunities to share the gospel than has perhaps existed since the Day of Pentecost.
The reason: this passage I am about to post represents our present reality. The condition of man at this time is causing many people to experience a hopelessness and the anxiety satan intends whenever he causes foolish people to abandon God-given boundaries.
People are increasingly starved for truth – they just cannot properly label their hunger and thirst as such.
Jesus IS truth.
A LONG time ago the Apostle Paul wrote this to his spiritual son Timothy:
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for 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, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” (2 Timothy 9-1:3)
This day has come and God, who loves us, has determined that we have what it takes to minister to people in this time.
Paul says in verse 1 that these are “perilous times”. This literally means we are in a “dangerous, difficult season that reduces strength.”
Millions of people, living in rebellion against a God they don’t really believe in, can’t even sense that their strength is being drained. Their souls are numbed that much by the lifestyles prophetically mentioned by Paul in this verse.
Rather than loving God (and living like they do) they love their own pleasure, money, and themselves. They boast, are proud, blaspheme, disobey their parents and on and on.
These lifestyle qualities: rebellion, blasphemy, brutality, haughtiness, a form of fake godliness…..these are not the problem.
These are all symptoms and as God calls us to minister to these we are not to be fooled into only addressing the symptoms. The true ROOT of all these is in each person a spirit that is dead because God does not live in them.
They are lost. This is how lost people live.
Paul says in verse 7 that they are always learning things but never are even able to come to a full discernment and acknowledgment of the truth.
They CAN’T do it.
Why? They are spiritually dead and it is only through having Holy Spirit dwelling within them that they can learn through Him.
In verse 5 Paul tell us: “from such people turn away”.
This does not mean to shun these people – as has been done so many times by the Church.
(This is part of the reason things have degraded so much in our current world. The Church has fled the battlefield.)
To turn away from such people literally means to “deflect” these people. I believe it means to not allow their beliefs and habits and lifestyles to become ours.
I read multiple versions of the Bible to see how this verse was translated in each. They all seem to tell us that we are to physically withdraw from these the way people shunned lepers in the first century.
I believe what it really means is to resist having our souls being infected by the symptoms of their lostness but not to shun them as people. I believe this for several reasons:
1) Jesus did not shun lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors and others who were considered to be more sinful than all the other people (all of whom were lost and, therefore, sinners) He encountered.
2) Paul tells us that we are to look different than the world in which we walk
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16)
In other words, we are not to lock ourselves away from all the “bad people”.
3) We are told by Paul that we are to be careful not to let the way the world lives control how we are.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)
4) Finally, Peter tells us that we are not of this world but are moving through it for a purpose:
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)
In other words, we are here in this increasingly wicked world at this time for the purpose of revealing how different God has made us so that, watching us live contented, fulfilled lives in Christ, lost people might be saved. When they receive the Lord, the symptoms presented in 2 Timothy 3:1-9 will begin to dissipate from their lives as they have from ours.
As I read that verse in 2 Timothy recently I was impressed to write this piece as a form of encouragement.
First, we tend to watch all the boundaries in our world crumble with dismay. I encourage us to see that as bad as this is, it is also an opportunity for the world to see the contrast between the saved and the lost that wasn’t so evident before.
This will work to the benefit of advancing God’s Kingdom – person by person.
Secondly, we are being pressured in the name of a satanic doctrine (political correctness) to practice tolerance to the point of acceptance of aberrant lifestyles and ideas, things God calls wicked, perverse and abomination (literally, disgusting to God).
I encourage us to find ways to disagree with these ideas while still loving our neighbors as Jesus commanded us to do. If this was not possible, He would not have told us to do it.
I also encourage us to understand that the violent or extreme reaction of a person when we love them enough to disagree with their ideas, lifestyle, etc, is no measure of whether or not it is right to do. We must obey God and let the chips fall where they may.
In the end we will be standing before Jesus – not some human who tried to control our souls by overreacting to us.
Next, the lost world is evangelistic. Hardly anyone practicing the sinful things Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 3:1-9 started doing that on their own. Some other human almost
always introduces those ideas to them. They are seduced, admittedly, sometimes by satan or his demons, but almost always by other people who are eager to seek security in numbers. People feel better about their sin when they are surrounded by others who are sinning the same way. This is why there are so many sinful subcultures around us.
They will try to evangelize you and seduce you into their sin.
I encourage us to be aware, awake and vigilant to be ready to resist this. Let’s not allow the world to pollute us with its sinful ways.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 – Jesus speaking to us.)
We are to bring something God (Jesus) to them – not the other way around.
Finally, I want to encourage us to not cloister ourselves in safe, Christian-only buildings and groups. To be sure, we are to gather together with other Christians regularly.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
However, this does not mean that we are to be afraid to go into places and situations that God directs us into which do not seem safe but are the mission fields chosen by Him for us on a day today basis.
As Paul pointed out in the passage I posted earlier in this piece, the world is a more and more evidently unsafe place in this season.
God chose to have us here…and now.
He knows what He is doing.
Let’s rise to the challenge placed before us.
“Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35b – Jesus speaking to us.)
We’re about to experience the greatest harvest of souls the world has seen since the Day of Pentecost.