Summary: Faithfulness, our witness, sin
Watch for Danger Areas
2 Timothy 3:1-9 (page 843)
Have you ever watched “Funniest Home Videos” or one of those shows like that and you knew what was going to happen? You look at the guy trying to jump a moving car and say, “Hey, buddy that’s a bad idea.” When the old gentleman starts to get on the pogo stick you think, “Here comes another hip replacement.” As the guy starts his 4 wheel drive up the steep rocky incline you know that this is going to roll over a dozen times.
And you almost never see or hear their friends say, “Have you thought this through? Really, man, if you do this have you ever considered how dangerous the ending can be?”
Video of tree cutting
You want to scream at that guy, “If you do that you’re gonna die! Stop!!!”
In this journey we call life there are some danger areas. Sometimes in our pride and arrogance we think we can handle them…and God know we can’t. He knows that next spiritual step is going to hurt if we take it.
That’s why our text this morning starts with the words, “But mark this…” It’s the Apostle Paul writing to Timothy who is the Senior Minister at Ephesus. And Paul is saying (the next words need to be bold, italic, and underlined). Get your highlighter out and go over these next words because they are important.
“There will be terrible times in the last days!”
What does Paul mean by the expression “last days”? It can apply to the entire period between the first and second coming of Christ. Since Jesus can return at any time, the entire church age can be called “the last days.”
It also can apply to the period of time immediately preceding the Lord’s return to earth. I think it’s helpful to remember that Jesus used the analogy of a pregnant woman experiencing labor pains. This woman knows she’s about to give birth by the frequency and severity of her labor pains. The closer she is to giving birth the more frequent and severe the pains get.
All these things that the Apostle Paul warns Timothy about in chapter 3 will be present in some form during all generations, but they will increase dramatically near the end of the age. Are we in the last days? No matter how you definite it the answer is, “Yes!”
And what will these days be like? How bad can they be? Paul uses the word “terrible.” This word only occurs here and one other place in the New Testament. Its other occurrence is in Matthew 8:28 where it describes two violent demon possessed men in the region of Gadarenes. They are wild, uncontrollable men who live in the tombs. That’s the same word Paul uses to describe “the last days” in II Timothy 3:1. These days will be fierce, violent, dangerous and frightening.
We’d say it this way, “In the last days, savage times will come as people cast off all moral restraint and society begins to disintegrate.”
In 1988 evangelical philosopher and theologian Carl Henry made a stunning prediction in his book “Twilight of a Great Civilization.” He said that as America progressively loses its Judeo-Christian heritage, paganism would grow bolder. What we saw in the last half of the 20th century was a benign humanism, but he predicted that by the start of the 21st century we would have a situation not unlike the 1st century when the Christian faith confronted raw paganism—humanism with the pretty face ripped off, revealing the angry monster underneath. His words have come true…and are coming truer with each passing day.
So Paul is screaming out a warning to Timothy and to us, “After I’m gone, things will get worse. Terrible times are coming. Mark this, watch out, pay close attention and get ready.”
“The Message” translation says, “Don’t be naïve. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches people are going to be self-absorbed, money hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog eat dog, unbending, slanderous, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people!”
Perilous Times are Described
That’s a sobering catalogue of corruption. In a sense it’s a shorter version of Romans 1:18-32 which describes the descent of people turning their backs on God.
Basically it’s a total rejection of God. As people become their own gods there is a moral collapse. People become lovers of themselves, not lovers of what is good. Society dissolves because there are no rules, no moral absolutes, no restraints. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes, much like in the time before the flood. And woe to anyone who questions those lifestyle choices. Why does Paul include “disobedient to parents?” Because this spirit of disobedience leaves the home in ashes. Divorce becomes commonplace. Marriage is redefined. Homosexuality is not only tolerated, but made equal.