Summary: How fully do you trust that the bible is God’s word? and what happens to your faith if you doubt the bible?
This chapter contains some of the richest verses about the veracity of the Word of God, and the reality of persecution in the New Testament. It also contains some of the strongest language in the Bible against those who pose as teachers of the Scriptures, but are actually false teachers and what our world will be like as it approaches the end. And it contrasts for us the difference between those who accept the Bible as God’s Word, and those who don’t. It is both an encouragement and a warning to us.
Paul has just gotten through encouraging Timothy to hang in there - that serving the truth will make him a noble vessel in the Lord’s house - that he will be used for the Lord to do great things. He warned Timothy to stay away from contaminating behaviors "youthful lusts" he called them. What we see here are examples of people who have given in to every possible desire - youthful or otherwise.
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
Times will be "terrible" (comes from a word that means "to strike") because the character of those who have rejected God will spill out into the world. No longer will their iniquity be concealed in a closet, but it will be open and attempts will be made to attack the godly and tempt the weak into ungodliness. Christians will be under attack as never before.
Paul gives us a searing list of the characteristics of those people:
The beginning of verse 2 says it all: they love themselves more than anything or anyone. This is the archetypical sin - and was Lucifer’s downfall (Isaiah 14:13) and ours as well (Genesis 3). How that manifests itself is found in the rest of the paragraph.
- Love money and pleasure
- Boastful and proud: boastful is someone who is proud without any basis for it and proud is someone who takes their false sense of self and looks down on others because of it (arrogant).
- Abusive describes the way in which they act towards others - like slanderous, brutal, treacherous, and rash. They will say or do anything to push themselves up and put others down.
- Ungrateful and disobedient to parents: Since all they can see is themselves they certainly won’t be thankful to others or obedient to their parents.
They also lack two important character ingredients: love, and self control. Love is putting the needs of others before yours needs. Self control is putting God’s character before yours.
Ephesians 4:17-19 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more
Rather than love God they love whatever pleases them.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
They have a "form of godliness but denying its power." They aren’t walking around wearing signs that say "I love myself more than you" - in fact, they wrap a robe of religion or respectability around them. But in reality, there is no truth to their religion and their lives deny the power of God over them.
This means that they could be church goers, who know the lingo and the songs and how to appear godly - but in reality they deny the gospel and leave God totally out of their lives. Such was the character of the false teachers plaguing Timothy at Ephesus.
What does it mean to us? You can’t just put on a Christian costume and be saved. Christianity isn’t a club you join or a part you play. There is a real salvation that needs to happen because without being made pure by God we are all destined for hell because of our sin. Without the power of God saving and transforming us we are simply fools - and once begun in God’s Spirit - we cannot hope to perfect ourselves by our own efforts - once again His power must be in us to make us like Him.