When Jesus uses the phrase, “But know this,” in Matthew 24:43, He is telling us, “You dare not ignore this word.” Then He offers the following statement: “If that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; [he] shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken” (Matthew 24:48–49).

Luke 12 identifies this servant as the same one who at one time faithfully served “meat in due season” (Luke 12:42). This servant started out right and he was destined to be rewarded as a keeper of the Lord’s goods. But now he has changed dramatically. He is found striking those around him and getting drunk with the drunken.

Something took place in this servant’s heart—a change perhaps unseen, but one that affected his attitude. What happened? What was this change? Jesus tells us that he said in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming” (24:48).

The Greek word for smite in verse 49 suggests repeated blows. In other words, this servant had fallen into hypocrisy. I see him as one who provokes his wife, curses freely, listens to dirty stories, gossips. How does he come to this? He convinces himself that his master isn’t coming back anytime soon. When he reasons to himself, “My lord,” he is speaking of a different lord entirely, not his righteous Master. He has conceived a Jesus of his own making, a Christ of another gospel.

This type of servant doesn’t preach his new attitude. Rather, the change has taken place in his thinking. He doesn’t have to broadcast his belief that the Master has delayed His coming. He is simply living out that belief and that makes all the difference.

Do you wonder why so many churches today are filled with unprepared, indulgent pleasure seekers? Do you wonder why so many Christian couples divorce at the slightest provocation? It isn’t because their pastors are teaching them to live that way. No, it’s because many shepherds do not believe Christ is coming in their generation. And the people merely follow the shepherd.