TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.
In the first and second messages in this series, we have looked at some signs that indicate that we are living in the last days. Now, these are not the earthshaking, dramatic, apocalypse-type signs that our culture normally associates with the end of the world. You’ve seen depictions of that kind of widespread devastation, be it natural or man-made, in movies such as 2012, Armageddon, and The Day After Tomorrow. Instead, the signs we have been looking at from the Word of God are spiritual and moral indicators that show that the Bible is right when it says the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked.”
So far, we have looked at the increased selfishness of man. In our day, we see that men and women are becoming “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud…” People care more and more about themselves than they do about others. The love of many is waxing cold.
Then, we looked at the increased lawlessness in the world. People simply do not want to obey authority and abide by rules and regulations. Paul describes these people are “disobedient to parents… trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good…” Senseless crime and violence is on the rise. Just yesterday, another shooting at a high school in Portland left four people wounded. Earlier this week, police say a man in a wheelchair in North Carolina was beat up and robbed. The verdict in the case of a Florida woman who drove her children into the ocean came back this week — she was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Priests, other ministers and people from all stripes are molesting children and homosexuality and homosexual marriage is on the rise in this country. In the news over the past month, an old famous comedian is being accused of rape, and some young famous women are lying about being raped. On one hand, there is evidence of police brutality and on the other, there is evidence of citizen brutality on fellow citizens. All kinds of lawlessness is happening in our world — and these are signs that point toward the second coming of Christ and the end of the world.
Today, we are going to look at the increased religiosity of man. Paul says that in the last days, in perilous times, many will ‘have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.’ You might assume that the world will become less and less religious as it turns away from obedience to the one true God and rejects the salvation provided through His Son, Jesus Christ. But that is not the case. The Bible indicates that people will be as religious as ever.
The key word in this verse is “form.” The Greek word means “a mere semblance or shaping” of something. In other words, these people will have something that looks like true religion, but in actuality is not. They will have a counterfeit faith.
We hear a lot of talk today about people who do not identify with an established faith like Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism, but they insist on calling themselves “spiritual.” Much has been made in recent months and years over the so-called “rise of the nones” — people who don’t claim to be a part of a religious structure. According to the Pew Research Center, over 20% of the American public are religiously unaffiliated. That number includes nearly 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics. The study goes on to state, however, “that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God. More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth, while more than a third classify themselves as ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’, and one-in-five say they pray every day.”
So, we see that while many people have rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have rejected the revelation of God as revealed in the Bible, they have not altogether rejected the idea of spirituality and religion. That may seem like a silver lining at first, but it is actually a very dangerous and insidious plot that comes straight from the devil. You see, the devil wants people to believe that they can make it on their own. That is why every religion in the world is based on works — you must do something in order to be saved. The devil does not want people to get ahold of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because the Gospel teaches that God has done everything for them to be saved. The devil preys on man’s pride and his tendency to believe that he can do it all by himself. And so, man becomes increasingly religious, increasingly spiritual, but increasingly lost.
However, we must not neglect to point out that Paul is writing about these signs as a warning to the young pastor of a church. According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Though these characteristics are cataloged under the auspices of a prediction about ‘the last days’; it is clear that Paul considered them to be already present in Ephesus.”
Today, we have many people in the church who have ‘a form of godliness, but deny its power.’ These are people who observe an outward form of religion. They look Christian, they act Christian, they talk Christian, but in their hearts they are far from God and Christ. In other words, they claim to be “in Christ”, but Christ is not in them.
This past week, a former Christian radio host who was married and who volunteered as a missions worker was sentenced to 40 years in prison for child pornography, the sexual exploitation of a child, and child sex abuse. The judge said, “I’m having a lot of trouble trying to reconcile two people in the orange jumpsuit before me. There’s the Christian man with a reputation as a values-driven individual. But there is something else going on that is troubling, filthy, obscene.” The news report said the community was unnerved by the depths of depravity lurking beneath the surface of a man prosecutors say had the facade of a law-abiding, charitable, upstanding citizen. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
How many people do we have in the church who claim to be saved, but who show no evidence of salvation in their lives? How many people are in the church who have not been truly transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ? They are not truly saved; they just have a form of religion. Theologian Charles Ellicott said, “These, by claiming the title of Christians, wearing before men the uniform of Christ, but by their lives dishonouring His name, do the gravest injury to the holy Christian cause.”
Immediately after describing these people who have a form of godliness, Paul writes, “from such turn away.” These types of people are to be shunned in the Christian community. We cannot criticize the world’s false religion and spirituality if we have people in the church who are just masquerading as Christians. It is one thing to live as a depraved sinner who does not know Jesus Christ, but it is another thing to live a depraved lifestyle while at the same time claiming to know Jesus Christ as Savior.
In these last days, we must be on guard against false religion in the church and outside of the church. As we live in these perilous times, we must redouble our efforts to let our light shine in the world. We must continue the faithful preaching of the Gospel. The more man turns to spirituality and religion, the more confused and deceived he will become. We must be about the business of shining the light of Jesus Christ into a world filled with increasing darkness, and we must be about the business of living as truly transformed followers of Christ.
In our next message in this series, we will continue looking at the signs that indicate we are living in the last days.
If you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you how you can trust Him for salvation so that you can be ready for His return.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and right now I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.