Read 2 Timothy 3:1-9
1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth — men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. (NIV)
As I look at this short passage and I look at the world we live in, one cannot help but wonder if we are living in the last days. The early Christians lived with a belief that the second coming of Christ was coming soon. Paul was warning Timothy of what it might look like when we are getting close.
The problem we have in deciding if we are in the last days is this is what the world looks like without God. The traits listed in verses 2 and 3 are seen in Scripture during times people turned from God.
And when you look at these traits, they are traits that ultimately divide people instead of bringing people together. Of course, one of the things of the last days is that people will be divided. When we look at the book of Genesis, we see that being connected to God is to be brought into order. The very essence of the creation stories is that God brought order out of chaos. There is evil in the world whose desire is to bring chaos out of order.
In verse 6, Paul talks about who these people operate. He says they work on people to convince them of doing what is wrong. Paul is specifically pointing to a phenomenon that was happening with women. Christianity was bringing great freedoms to women that they did not enjoy in society. At least in the first century. But there were those who prayed upon these women to abuse their freedom.
We have to remember that one of the great threats to the early church was the Gnostics. The Gnostics believed that everything spirit was good and everything material was bad. This included our very physical bodies. So, there were two schools at work to address the material world being bad. One called for people to live a very ascetic lifestyle. Once defeated the physical self by denial of the self. This was not the most popular school of thought. The most popular was the since the physical self was evil, we must sin it away by indulging in every sort of selfish desire. This is what Paul is referring to. There were those who were lead astray to just live immoral lives.
In verse 7 Paul points out a problem that is still here today. People spend enormous amounts of time studying, but never putting what they learn into practice.
Paul closes this short section by reminding Timothy that those who oppose God will eventually be found out and be rejected. God will eventually cause them to fall. We must remember that when we look about and see that those who evil seem to prosper. This is only a temporary thing and in the end, they will be found out for who they are.
Paul’s simple solution is to have nothing to do with people like this. We reach out to them with the Gospel, but always remembering that their ways are not God’s ways. This can be hard to do. But we must not let evil ways creep into our homes, churches, and communities. We must continue to live as God calls us to live.
Have you had times were you thought others were living the good life and you, because of your faith were being left behind? This can be a temptation. But is it being with other believers and finding our purpose in God that we find a joy and peace that cannot be matched in the world. I think that is why Coveting is listed among the 10 commandments. It can cause us to start down the road of walking away from God.
Blessings and Peace