“Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Timothy 3:1).
Paul does not say this to scare us. He attributes it all to the sin of the human heart:
“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Timothy 3:2-5).
That’s quite a list of sins. Yet Paul is talking not only to the world but also to us Christians: “Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”
When he says people will be lovers of themselves, he quite accurately describes the situation in many churches today. While evil increases, these churches increase their pursuit of self-promotion, gain and comfort. God never tells us to avoid the unsaved; they are our primary mission. So when Paul tells us to “avoid such people,” he is referring to fellow Christians who deny God’s authority in their lives. In fact, he affirms this, saying, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you’” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). As God’s people, what clearer call to repentance could we hear?
Satan will continue to spew forth death. And only one thing can resist his hell on earth: a church that is able to stand up and speak God’s Word boldly with integrity. Without a holy presence in this darkening world, the world will never know an alternative.