2 Timothy 3:1-13
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.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Paul opens chapter three with a description of the godlessness that will be present in the last days. The “last days” usually refers to the end of the church age and the imminent return of Christ. In verse five he describes people who have a “form of godliness but denying its power.” This is a description of people going through the rituals of religion but lack true spiritual life. Religion appeals to many in our culture today because of its’ performance-based structure. Because Paul did not know the time frame of Christ’s second coming. He warns Timothy what to expect should this event happen in his lifetime.
Paul not only warns Timothy about this godlessness, but he also gives him and us the antidote for this godlessness, which is to remain faithful to the Word of God. In verse ten, Paul points to his teaching ministry and the example he lived out when he was in Timothy’s presence. Paul’s life was an open book. Timothy knew well Paul’s suffering which he had endured during his missionary journeys. Then Paul reminds Timothy how the Lord rescued him from these persecutions and afflictions. Verse twelve is a harsh reality: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted.” As I stated in one of my previous devotions, I believe that we are beginning to move into a time in this country when people who profess the name of Christ will be persecuted.
Once again, I believe that American Christianity has not experienced much of the persecution that the worldwide church has experienced since the days of Christ. Our experience in the American church is radically different than those in most parts of the world. In our culture, it is becoming more and more unpopular to be a Christ follower. The temptation to embrace the prevailing philosophies of the day have never been greater.
Just as Paul remained faithful to the Word of God and trusted Him in the midst of severe persecution and hardship, we also must commit ourselves to remain faithful to the truth and resist the temptation to fall away from what we know is true. Every generation since the time of Christ believed it was living in the last days. Our day is no different. Whether we are living in the last days or not, we are to live our lives in such a way that Christ will be honored. We ought to live our lives with a sense of urgency that Christ will return for His bride at any moment. Until He returns, we should strive to keep His commands without spot or blemish. Though the days grow darker, may the light of Christ radiate from His bride, the church!
Questions to Ponder
In what ways have you been timid about your faith? Why is it difficult to speak boldly about your faith in the current culture? What practical steps do you take to make sure you are following sound doctrine? How is it possible for ungodly people to exercise great influence in the church? What persecutions and sufferings do today’s leaders endure for the sake of the gospel?
- Praise His Name. Faithful and True, Sovereign, Prince of Peace, Good Shepherd, Long-Suffering, God of Comfort, Wonderful Counselor.
- Sit before Him and confess any sin you are aware of. Invite the Holy Spirit to search your heart and bring to your attention any offensive way, tell Him you are sorry and receive His grace and mercy. Rest in His sea of grace and forgiveness.
- Pray for areas of your life where you are timid about your faith, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Invite others to pray for you regarding sharing your faith.
- Pray for our church family and the greater one church to be humble, loving, wise, and discerning.
- Pray for Pastor Bob and all other pastors that they have strength to endure persecution and suffering for the sake of the gospel.
Oh God, I ask that You will enable all our pastors, elders, leaders and church family with the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to endure persecution and suffering of all kinds.
Father, teach us the way of love and how to pray for those who persecute us. Protect us against bitterness in us. Keep us close to You and Your Word. Help us to respond in gentleness, with love but also strong conviction. Empower us to flee from the things of this world and cling to You as we pursue righteous living. Help us to be in the world but not of it. Lead and teach us I pray, in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.