II TIMOTHY 3:1-5: “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” NLT
OBSERVATION: Are we really in the end times? Is Jesus’ return really getting closer? These two questions have been debated since these words were written…and even before. This was the last question the disciples asked Jesus before He ascended into heaven.
- “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” Acts of the Apostles 1:6 NLT
Jesus was quick to turn the disciples’ attention toward their mission and not the end of the age. However, does this mean we will not be able to discern the times? Paul writes in his letter to the Thessalonians,
- “But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 NLT
Not only are we not to be surprised by the last days, Jesus even gave us some insight on how to know when we are in the final season before the rapture of the Church and the End of the Age.
- “Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?…“But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.” Matthew 24:3, 8 NLT
Jesus spoke of world events as birth pains. I am not an expert on childbirth but I know one thing for certain. As the birth of the child grows nearer the frequency of the contractions and pain increases. This is a key to discerning the times. There has always been sin in the world. Yet, it is the frequency and intensity of sin that lets us know if we are living in the last days.
So, let’s take a look at Paul’s summary list to Timothy of the last days and ask the question – “Is the frequency and intensity of these things getting better or worse?”
- “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money.”
Is our society becoming more benevolent or more selfish? Do people vote based on principles of righteousness or issues that affect their pocketbooks? Is greed on the rise or decline? Do we judge a person’s worth by their character or by their wealth?
- “They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God,…”
When I grew up there was respect for the church and religion as a whole. Now, there is a growing contempt of the church. Entire political parties have taken God out of their platform and are working diligently to take God out of the public square. People are boastful and proud denying their very need for God. We are living in an ever-increasing godless culture.
- “…disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful.”
All you need to do to witness whether this is an attitude and behavior problem that is growing in intensity and frequency is to visit your local Walmart. Listen to the conversations and the tone of voice children are using towards their parents. Watch how children behave when they are told they cannot have something. Watch parents allowing their children to run the show. There is a growing disrespect for authority. Teachers have to deal more with discipline than teaching. This is a growing and alarming problem.
- “They will consider nothing sacred.”
Churches and Synagogues are vandalized and burned. Ministers of the Lord are portrayed as ignorant, archaic, and foolish on almost every sitcom on television. The Lord’s name is used in vain in conversation, music, and rap. Politicians and Hollywood elites ridicule and dismiss anyone with faith. And, the Bible is rejected as the authoritative Word of God.
- “They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control.”
Violence is on the increase in our cities, schools, and the public square. When people do not get their way they turn to rioting, looting, burning cities, and personal violence. There is no tolerance for differences of opinion. Revenge is sought more than reconciliation. And, we have forgotten the virtue of self-control. I want to live my truth no matter what it costs others in the process.
- “They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.”
The sexual revolution has led to a society that loves pleasure more than God. Abortion is accepted as good and those who honor the life of the unborn are considered a threat to society. People every day, on social media, throw their family members and friends under the bus. Pride has replaced humility and a friend that sticks closer than a brother is harder and harder to find.
- “They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!”
People think they are religious simply because they meet in a building with a cross, a Star of David, or a steeple. One by one mainline denominations are leaving the orthodox Christian faith and embracing the moral teachings of our day. A false message of grace is being taught that emboldens people to live in sin rather than to grow in godliness. In so many churches today the Holy Spirit has left the building!
This is the checklist – as harsh as it may seem. It can get you depressed by simply reading it. Yet, we are not those who view such things this way. We understand that these are the signs that we are growing closer and closer to the fulfillment of God’s plan for the ages.
Jesus gave us this exhortation,
- “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” Luke 21:28 NLT
Am I guaranteeing that Jesus will return in my lifetime? Absolutely not! However, I would have to be blind to not recognize that things are accelerating. And, as they accelerate I take assurance that I am in the light so that these days will not overtake me and surprise me as someone who lives in the darkness. As these things accelerate I find myself daily looking up and tuning my heart to hear the trumpet call when Jesus will return for His Church!
These are exciting times. They are times to be engaged in the church, faithful in ministry, and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are in the last days!
Lord Jesus, today, I choose to look up, to stand firm, to be engaged in proclaiming the Gospel – for Your redemption is closer now than it has ever been!
COME LORD JESUS!
In Jesus Name!