Sunday, February 28, 2016

Perilous times - are you on this list?

Most Christians believe that we are approaching the last days before Jesus’ return.  Though only the Father knows the exact day, there have been a lot of signs in the Bible that are visible here on the earth right now.  But instead of speculating on politics and current events, let’s look at the spiritual signs that God says will be evident at the end of the world:

Know this: In the last days perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, slanderers, unrestrained, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from such people.  (2 Timothy 3:1-5 MEV)

This isn’t about atheists and unbelievers – it was written about people within the church.  It’s a list of demonic attitudes that will infiltrate Christian communities and contaminate the body of Christ.  The question is, are we on the alert for these attitudes?  Are we tolerating them because we assume that everyone we know is a true believer?  Are we on this list ourselves? 

Just because someone has a position in church or is knowledgeable about the Bible doesn’t mean a thing if they can be characterized by any of these dangerous qualities.  Paul is warning that these attitudes are a sign that perilous, or dangerous times have come – times when the lines between “Christian” and unbeliever become blurred.  Whoever is a lover of themselves – always out to save their own skin, their own reputation, boost their own standing and comfort – is on this dangerous list.  Boastful church leaders, greedy for fame and money, unthankful church members, gossips and slanderers who want to smear and defame the names of whoever they dislike, fit on this list as well.  Christians who make promises just to appease bothersome people, who casually break their word and throw their friends under the bus, who divorce and remarry, or cheat and deceive…  And even young people who disrespect their parents are considered as dangerous as greedy liars and all the others mentioned.  God doesn’t view anyone on this list as His child, and on top of that, He commands us to stay away from them.

These horrible qualities are understandable among unbelievers, among people who live by selfish emotions.  But this list easily describes modern-day church communities, and even worse, it’s become accepted as normal.  “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” is a common saying that isn’t often acted on.  But sometimes showing love to someone who’s deceived, means cutting them out of our lives when we see that they stubbornly want to continue living their way.  It’s a tough love that allows God to work where our words and presence in their lives cannot.  But do we do it?

God is holding us to a standard that is not politically correct.  It’s holiness.  It’s a standard of purity, humility and gratefulness to God in all things.  They’re not popular qualities, but if we belong to the Kingdom of God, the standards of this world don’t apply any more.  

We are approaching dangerous times.  We can’t afford to have what Paul says is just a form of godliness.  If we just have the appearance but refuse to live in godliness, we are denying God’s power – we might as well be slapping God in the face by living in such selfishness.  We desperately need His power, we need His justice to right the wrongs that have hurt us, and to forgive the sins we’ve committed. If we deny His power by living unholy lives, then we are hopelessly lost.  Now is the season of seeking to live in holiness and righteousness so He can give us His justice.  It’s what we all long for.   “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

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