In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul gives us a rather scary look at the end-times: “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 them.” While Paul is speaking here of terrible times, it is obvious that he is concentrating more on the terrible people who will be manifested in these terrible times.
IS MAN A MACHINE TO BE ABUSED?
We need to be aware of the fact that our world and the people in it are changing rapidly and dramatically as we are ushered into the end-days. It is almost like the proverbial paradigm-shift that we often hear about. The biblical principles and foundations that have protected humanity for hundreds of years are now greatly weakened and in some cases almost nonexistent. The restraining powers of law and godliness have all but disappeared. The harvest of wickedness that the Bible speaks of seems to be getting ripe. Let us be prepared for such a time.
While the Judeo/Christian heritage looked upon man as “made in the image of God” and therefore unique, the Modernist, Postmodernist and Humanist see man differently. Man is looked upon as a machine or as a mere tadpole that crawled out of the water and haplessly evolved over the millions of years.
Thus man has no special nature about him. He is not made in God’s image and neither is he “made a little lower than the angels” as the scripture states. Because man has no intrinsic worth he can be abused and exploited to the maximum. He can be treated as a machine, used and then discarded at will. Even tiny babies likewise can be aborted and the helpless older folks can be put to an early death through euthanasia.
A NATION OF PREDATORS
More and more we are living in a nation of predators. A few generations ago the US produced abundant goods and services to bless and serve the world. Now instead of really producing things, we seem to spend much our time preying upon and exploiting one another. Telemarketers restlessly hound us to buy things we do not want. Incessant “spam” and “pop-up ads” for a thousand things harass us on our computers. When we thoughtlessly allow our mailing address or phone number to be given out, we are mercilessly dogged by solicitors of all types. Where is restraint and honor? Where is respect for humanity?
There are financial predators. A few years ago when the pickpocket took your wallet, he quickly took out the cash and threw the wallet and its incriminating contents away. Today the financial predator would more likely throw the cash away and keep the wallet. His scheme is to steal your identity. By assuming your identity he can then draw freely from your accounts, run up charges on your credit cards and do permanent and perhaps irreparable financial harm. In the US it is now estimated that there are over 700,000 victims of such abuse each year.
There are vocational predators. Today company executives apparently see their employees as mere machines to be exploited. While they themselves may draw astronomical salaries and live in unspeakable luxury, they often hold employees in conditions of virtual economic slavery. Actually, some modern employees may be worse off than slaves. At least slaves received food and housing for their labors. Some employees today are almost denied these amenities because of disgracefully low salaries. It is a fact that Americans work longer hours than their contemporaries in other countries – much of it is often in the form of uncompensated overtime. Lately, we are hearing news reports of these greedy employers even scamming the meager retirement accounts of their faithful workers. That’s not all. We now know that executives of some of America’s largest companies have even bilked their investors. They have accomplished this by phony financial reporting and other fraudulent deals. In some cases even the auditors are part of the scheme.
There are sexual predators. To hear about these we have only to turn on the TV or glance at the papers. In our day when one buys a house or even moves a family to a new area of town it is extremely wise to check with police departments concerning the locations of registered sexual predators in the proposed area. While these neighbors may appear normal, they are set to prey on small and innocent children around them. Some of these predators have no doubt inflamed their minds watching cyber-porn or X-rated movies. They have taken their godly sex drives and warped them into something extremely dangerous. Now when we stroll into public places we are apt to see the sad pictures of little children who have been kidnapped, sexually abused and likely murdered.
OTHER LAST DAY PROBLEMS
In 2 Timothy 3, Paul mentions that last-day people will be afflicted with many other problems. Not only will they love themselves and love money, but they will be proud braggarts. They will be without natural love. As the old hymn goes: “Every human tie may perish; friend to friend unfaithful prove; mothers cease their own to cherish, heaven and earth at last remove.” Recently we were aghast as the young mother, Andrea Yates coldly and callously drowned her five small children in the bathtub. According to the Bible we can look for more horrors like this. They will likely increase in brutality.
Notice that people will be abusive, brutal and treacherous. We are beginning to see this showing up in many ways. It even manifests itself on the highway in the numerous instances of “road rage.” With some of these modern predators the brutality is astounding. Recently one of our Messianic Jewish acquaintances was beaten unconscious and almost killed while taking his walk. The youthful predators didn’t even take the man’s money. When these young boys were later apprehended they confessed that they only
did it for fun.
Paul mentions that last day people will be afflicted with many other faults. They will be disobedient to parents. They will be ungrateful. Notice how little we hear a sincere “thank you” anymore. They will also be conceited, and will lack of self-control. This later malady is certainly underscored as some 25 percent of Americans are now out of control in their use of food and are grossly overweight. These last-day people will also love pleasure more than they love God.
BUT STILL RELIGIOUS, OF COURSE
In this passage we also see that these brutal abusers will have a form of godliness although they deny its power. Lately we have been shocked with the horrible news of more and more sex offenders being exposed in the US Catholic priesthood. Some of these predators have been protected for years by the church hierarchy. While we do not yet see such widespread abuse in the Protestant churches, it may be soon on the way.
Charisma Magazine in the January 2001 issue mentions a national survey of ministers. The results of that survey show that about 20 percent of all ministers are involved to some degree in pornography. Perhaps some think they are not affected by just privately watching cyber-porn. Unfortunately pornography often lays the ground work for open sexual abuse. In this same issue of Charisma it is mentioned that addiction to cyber-porn is a very serious problem and may require as much as 18 months of counseling to overcome. The article states that the recovery for a person addicted to pornography is generally more complex than the recovery of an actual adulterer.
If such things as these are going on with the shepherds, we may ask what is going on with the sheep?
BE YE SEPARATE
Paul says that we are to have nothing to do with these types (2 Tim. 3:5). Obviously, with his last statement, Paul places Christians right in the middle of the last-day events. We need to rid ourselves of the current escapist mentality so prevalent in the church and start preparing ourselves for the coming end-day struggle. Not only are we to have nothing to do with such people as these, but the Bible says we are to come out from their midst. In 2 Corinthians 6:17 we read: “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
Then we need to draw near to God and ask that our hearts and minds be purified from the effects of this present evil age. With God’s help we can still become the pure bride of Christ, although we live in a greatly depraved and polluted age.
– Jim Gerrish