2 Timothy 3:1-7 predicts that in the last days, "people" will not be following the ways of God.
They will be wrapped up in their own lives with all kinds of schemes to gain money, power, control over others, and many other nefarious practices. Sound familiar? The tricky part is that they will appear to be very Godly while deceiving and misleading many:
"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 such people.
6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:1-7)
They thought the End was near?
This threw me for a while because we look at the last days as being closer to our time than to that of Paul and Timothy. However, the last part of verse 5 warns Timothy to "have nothing to do with such people". Paul must have felt that the end was near, even then, just as we hope the same thing now. If he felt that way then, how much stronger would the feeling be now if he had been able to live until today?
"Believers" taking advantage of believers
Look closely at verse 6
"They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,"
. Can you think of anyone today who might be in this category? Is there a way to get "into the homes" of gullible people, drain them of their money and feed them non-biblical information about what to believe? How about television? Are there gullible people out there who have only an incomplete view of what the scriptures actually say? There have been many instances of "preachers" who fleece their flocks and live a life unbecoming of any men of God. Matthew Henry's commentary says this (Source Christianity.com):
"Even in gospel times there would be perilous times; on account of persecution from without, still more on account of corruptions within. Men love to gratify their own lusts, more than to please God and do their duty. When every man is eager for what he can get, and anxious to keep what he has, this makes men dangerous to one another. When men do not fear God, they will not regard man. When children are disobedient to their parents, that makes the times perilous. Men are unholy and without the fear of God, because they are unthankful for the mercies of God. We abuse God's gifts, if we make them the food and fuel of our lusts.
Times are perilous also, when parents are without natural affection to children. And when men have no rule over their own spirits, but despise that which is good and to be honoured. God is to be loved above all; but a carnal mind, full of enmity against him, prefers any thing before him, especially carnal pleasure. A form of godliness is very different from the power; from such as are found to be hypocrites, real Christians must withdraw. Such persons have been found within the outward church, in every place, and at all times. There ever have been artful men, who, by pretences and flatteries, creep into the favour and confidence of those who are too easy of belief, ignorant, and fanciful.
All must be ever learning to know the Lord; but these follow every new notion, yet never seek the truth as it is in Jesus. Like the Egyptian magicians, these were men of corrupt minds, prejudiced against the truth, and found to be quite without faith. Yet though the spirit of error may be let loose for a time, Satan can deceive the nations and the churches no further, and no longer, than God will permit."
Think it only applies to others?
The amazing thing about this passage is that nearly everyone who reads it thinks that it applies to other people, other churches, or other pastors, while it may be happening right in front of them every Sunday. In fact, if they are in church on Sunday, they have very likely already fallen prey to the wiles of the Catholic Church and are ignoring the word of God. In case you are wondering, even if your church is not Catholic, you may still be following them. If your regular meetings are on Sunday, that practice started with the early anti-Semitic church fathers and was formalized by the organization that eventually became the Catholic church. The key is in the phrase above that says:
"All must be ever learning to know the Lord; but these follow every new notion, yet never seek the truth as it is in Jesus."
But, how can we know? What kind of research do we do to find out how to identify who these deceivers are, and more importantly, even whether we are one of them? The answer is the same as for any question regarding the truth - know the Scriptures. Isn't that what Jesus told the Sadducees in Matthew 22:29?
Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." (Matt 22:29)
Study - not just at home in private. When listening to a sermon, write down the main points and see if you can find it in the word of God in the same context as used in the sermon, and verify that the message is the same. Some of these deceivers are so clever, they can quote scripture to convince you of something, but the scripture they use often has nothing to do with the point they are making.
One example is speaking in tongues. Some say they quote the Bible and say that if you do not speak in tongues, you do not have the Holy Spirit. Ask them for a reference. They will likely try to convince you about how important tongues are with Acts 2:4
4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
, but what this passage actually says is not what the "gobbledygook" speakers want you to believe. In Acts, they spoke in a tongue that each listener could understand in his own native language. What the "gobbledygookers" say is that each person must have his own special language, understood by no one but him and God, but they can give no Biblical reference for this belief.
What does the Bible say?
This "gobbledygook" language is not from scripture, and Paul actually minimizes that gift as something to be desired only marginally, if at all. (see 1 Corinthians 14
1Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
6Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.
13For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say "Amen" to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.
18I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
20Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21In the Law it is written:
"With other tongues
and through the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people,
but even then they will not listen to me,
says the Lord."
22Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"
Paul tries to explain some of this in the second half of 2 Timothy 3, even so far as to point to the word of God as the source of knowledge we need to be ready so we can teach, rebuke, correct, and train. He reminds Timothy of his knowledge of Paul's teachings and those of other Godly men, and to use that knowledge to identify these deceivers (vv 10-17):
10You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11persecutions, sufferings - what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:10-17)
In 2 Timothy 4, Paul continues to explain the real use of the word of God, and the kind of person to watch out for. He even gave some examples of the kind of individual who could easily become one of these schemers. If it is so easy for them to become this way when they have been associated with a man like Paul, think how easy it is in this age of lower morals and higher greed. There are so many preachers out there saying the words people want to hear that anyone who speaks the whole truth sounds too harsh, so people listen to the words their "itching ears want to hear." (2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
Check out other authors - but verify
In Halley's Bible Handbook, by Henry H. Halley, on page 767 of the Deluxe Edition (2000, 2007), is this comment about one of the themes of the New Testament regarding 2 Timothy Chapter 3:
"The coming apostasy (vv. 1 - 14). The determined effort of mankind to corrupt the Gospel and thwart the work of Christ is one of the themes of the New Testament. It is spoken of again and again (Matthew 7:15-23; 2 Thessalonians 2; 2 Timothy 4; 2 Peter 2; Jude; Revelation 17). The terrible picture in vv. 2-5 is, with the exception of temporary periods of reform, a fairly correct picture of the church as a whole until this present time."
Whether you think Paul meant his warning to Timothy to apply to his own time, or the last days of our time, or some time yet to come, the same message still applies. If you think that, as a modern society, we are improved enough to be able to detect and divert these deceivers, and not be affected by the drivel they spout - look again. Turn on the television and listen to their words, then compare what they say to the Bible.
Just today, July 24, 2018, I turned on the television and listened to a woman claiming that when God spoke the Ten Commandments out loud to the Israelites, He only spoke the first one and the Israelites stopped Him and told Moses to finish the conversation. She claimed that they never received all ten, just the first one. If you read Exodus 20, you will find out that this is a blatant lie. In fact, Exodus 20:1 says "And God spoke all these words:" followed by the listing of all ten commandments. When these people make a statement, don't just accept it. Be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11):
"Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
Or better yet, try to know the Bible well enough to spot a lie. Those of us who do not do this, well, we may someday wake up like the five foolish versions - locked out of the wedding and not knowing why.
The "wolves in sheep's clothing" are out there
This page is called "False Godliness" and one thing we have not yet discussed here is disobedience. Not the general disobedience that people associate with rascals, but the direct disobedience of those who claim to be Christian, but make statements like "No, God, I will not do that." or "I know You don't want me to, God, but I am doing it anyway." Intentional disobedience like this can also be called "Godlessness".
"I would never do that!"
Oh? You would never do that? On other pages of this site (Holidays and Sabbath/Sunday), I discuss direct disobedience to the word of God using examples of the celebration of Easter, Christmas, and the change of God's day of rest from Sabbath to Sunday, and having pork roast for lunch. I know, I know, but don't write me off until you see the facts. I'm not making this up.
With no Biblical references at all, people celebrate a pagan holiday (even keeping the pagan name Easter) claiming to really be worshiping God, yet doing it on a day set by the pagans, using all the pagan symbols, and ignoring the real meaning of a "holiday" that is not a holiday at all. People say that they are celebrating the resurrection, but Easter is not the right day for that. People say they are really worshipping God and Jesus on Easter, but God specifically said not to worship Him in the way the pagans do (Exodus 23:24
Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces.
This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them."
You must not worship the LORD your God in their way.
, Deuteronomy 12:30-31
30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?' 31 "You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods."
32 "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it."
, Deuteronomy 18:9
9When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.
What's that? You would never bow down to a symbol of another god? When you reach for a present under the "Christmas" tree, what are you doing? Most people don't bend over while standing, they get down on their knees to reach for the presents. Far fetched? Of course, you are not thinking about worshiping other gods, but that is not what God said. He said don't worship HIM in that way. Think about it.
"Oh yeah, I do that..."
Resurrection day was the first Sunday after Passsover, not the closest Sunday to the Spring equinox. Sometimes these two days are as much as a month apart. And if you need a reminder, look for the first references in the Bible using chickens, eggs, and bunny rabbits in order to celebrate the resurrection. You will be a long time looking.
In fact, you won't find anything about celebrating "Resurrection Day". That day is special to God only in that He wants the people to observe the Wave Sheaf ceremony. That ceremony is symbolic of Christ's becoming the "firstfruits" for us. It has nothing to do with "Easter" or a "celebration" of the Resurrection Day, which has never been a "holiday".
Please check out the facts
If you think these warnings apply only to the Jews because it is in the Old Testament, then you must feel that God will overlook your doing "detestable things that the LORD hates" (Deuteronomy 12:31). Also, do a little research on the Sabbath. Not Sunday, but God's Sabbath - the seventh day Sabbath. Again, with no references at all, people have decided to tell God "No! I will not do as you say. I will worship you the way I see fit!" Beware, just calling Sunday your "sabbath" does not mean you are in the will of God. When you change the phrase from "God's Sabbath" to "your sabbath", you tread on dangerous ground.
So, what am I saying here? Godlessness is all around us, even in our churches. Also, we are surrounded by False "Godliness" that is packaged to make us feel comfortable, but is not near to God. Most don't think it includes them, but they haven't looked around with God's eyes and heart. There is only one source of information for us - His Word - and one source of prompting if we get off course - the Holy Spirit. We can only ignore them so long before they start to have no effect on our hearts. Don't give up on God and He won't give up on you.
Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and give us your view.