We live in troublesome times – times that alarm and grieve the heart of righteous people! It seems we are watching a country birthed in Judeo-Christian ethics decay, disintegrate, and unravel before our very eyes and many feel helpless to do anything about it. And what is true of the United States is also true of our world as a whole! What can Christians do? What should they do?
In my Bible reading this morning I read Apostle Paul’s prophetic prediction about the character of “the last days” before our Lord’s return. If a person didn’t know better, you’d guess that he must have been watching the evening news on television or reading the morning news in the newspaper or an electronic device!
The passage I read this provides warning and analysis… But It also provides a partial solution to the dilemma – a solution designed to preserve God’s people from the contamination and decay of their culture! (I looked ahead in my Bible and the rest of Paul’s solution in these troubled time comes in the passage I’ll read tomorrow… I’ll comment on it then J)
Here’s Apostle Paul’s warning and analysis about the sad state of things today (I’m quoting the New Living Translation of the Bible)…
“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! They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.) These teachers oppose the truth… They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith. But they won’t get away with this for long! Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are!” (from 2 Timothy 3:1–9)
Wow! I would say Paul got the analysis right, wouldn’t you? But what of the solution? What can godly people do to stay pure and righteous in such a culture – such a world? In these verses Paul only gives a partial solution… but it is an important part! (The following verses tomorrow will provide more of the solution he recommends).
First of all Paul urged, “Stay away from (avoid) people like that! Paul was concerned about contamination and compromise! He wasn’t downplaying the importance of evangelism and redemptive activity in our world, but he was concerned about the spiritual vitality and preservation of Christians in a decadent culture.
His second solution was partially prediction… He said, “Depend on it, the true character of those who claim to be religious but are really irreligious and wicked will be exposed! In another place in the Bible it’s phrased like this… “by their fruit you shall know them!” So here’s the deal for me today… I’m going to do everything I can to stay pure and holy! I want to share the gospel with everyone I can, but I don’t want the unrighteous quality of the culture I live in to influence me… I want to influence it with the gospel! Secondly, I do not want to be deceived! Not everything that calls itself “holy” is holy! I need to be discerning… the true character of many so-called “religious” teachers and leaders will be eventually exposed and evident by their lifestyle… “By their fruit you shall know them!”