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Morality Decadence Signs

The De-Evolution of Man (2 Timothy 3:1-2a)

The De-Evolution of Man (2 Timothy 3:1-2a)
By Dr. Andy Woods

Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to 2 Timothy 3:1. And the title of our message this morning is The De-Evolution of Man, probably part 1. And of course, I want to thank Dr. Jim McGowan for filling in last week; I trust you benefited from his ministry. Happy Valentine’s day to everybody. And also sort of a difficult week for me, even though my wife and I were on vacation, my cousin died at age 45 and of course we had the Babs Miller memorial service, I think that was on Friday and then we had the graveside service in Austin Saturday. It’s always hard to say goodbye to a close friend like that, or family. But they are at a much better place.

And then to sort of top things off I learned that one of my judicial heroes died, Justice Antonin Scalia, who was one of the few voices of reason left on the Supreme Court (in my humble opinion, you’re free to differ with me if you want to and I’ll pray for you if you differ with me). But you know, live is very temporal, isn’t it? The things that we think are certain really aren’t that certain. So it’s just a great time to, in light of deaths to really focus on what matters, which is God, and also to pray for the direction of our country. Most people know that we’re at a very precarious place. People have different visions of where the country should go and we just really want to seek God’s will and ask that His perfect will be accomplished.

We are in the book of 2 Timothy which is a book about completing the race. The book almost seems tailor made to our times as Timothy, a young man, is struggling, not with his salvation, that’s clear, but he’s struggling with his calling and whether he’s in the right place because he’s having so much opposition. So Paul writes this book, the very last book Paul penned, to encourage Timothy to endure in his calling.

Chapter 1, as we have seen, is a general call to faithfulness. And then we moved into chapter 2, we spent quite a bit of time on chapter 2 where Paul gives Timothy ten metaphors or word pictures of what endurance looks like. And now we’re ready to move into chapter 3, verse 1 through chapter 4, verse 8, where Paul switches topics and he’s now talking about something called the apostasy. He doesn’t tell Timothy the apostasy can be stopped, he just tells him it’s coming like a tidal wave. And he tells him what he is to do in the midst of this apostasy.

So sort of as a lesson a couple of weeks ago to lay the foundation for this section we did a topical study on the last days apostasy of the church. We defined apostasy as a departure from known truth, occurring in God’s church, and we went through about ten characteristics of apostasy. The moment that sermon went up on the Internet we started getting messages and e-mails from people all over the country saying you’re describing my church. And I think people react that way because we’re in the general season that Paul predicted regarding this apostasy. So what to do in the midst of the apostasy is really the subject from 2 Timothy 3:1, that slide says through verse 6 of chapter 4, it really goes through chapter 4 verse 8—what to do in the midst of the apostasy.

So here’s sort of how I’ve outlined that section. We have the apostasy described, verses 1-9, and then we have the antidote for apostasy, how to handle the apostasy once it comes, chapter 3 verse 10 through chapter 4 verse 8, just moving into the first part of our outline today. So we have described here, number 1, the evil that’s coming, and then Paul, we won’t get to these verses today but towards the end of that section, verses 8-9, he gives some examples of the evil that’s coming.

But let’s focus on the evil that is at hand, that the Spirit of God expressly says would come into the church in the last days. And as Richard was reading those verses no doubt you got a little depressed; it’s kind of like reading the newspaper, very depressing. And Paul gives 19 characteristics of the apostasy; 19 characteristics of what people become like when they move away from God. So when society moves away from God and when the church follows society in moving away from God, these are the 19 characteristics that you can expect to happen. And this is why I’ve entitled this The De-Evolution of Man, because what you’ll discover is man, humanity in general, becomes just like the animal kingdom. They are not animals genetically but they become animals morally as they move away from God.

So we’re kind of in a cultural worldview which says we’re on the upward ascent, we’re getting better and better every single day, we’re told, as we evolve upward. And the Bible is saying the exact opposite; the Bible is saying as you get further and further away from God you don’t become less like the animals, you become more like the animals. Which is a tragic thing because God originally, when He created the world, put man and woman in authority over the animal kingdom. So we are quite different than the animals; we are made in God’s image and we were designed to rule the animal kingdom. And yet if you don’t have God in your thinking or relationship with God you become exactly, not genetically, but morally like the animals you were designed by God to govern.

So 19 characteristics, Paul hadn’t gone to a good preaching school because you don’t have 19 points in a sermon, right? You’re supposed to have three points and a poem; Paul gives us 19 points. So just in order to help guide our thoughts here’s sort of an outline that is helpful in terms of putting these 19 characteristics together.

First of all you have a warning of difficulty and danger, verse 1. Then you have a collection of attributes related to misplaced love. As the last days unfold there is going to be misplaced affections in people; most of those are in verse 2 one of them is in verse 4. Then we’ll have a collection of attributes or characteristics related to pride, verse 2. And then we’ll have a collection of attributes, about nine there, called alpha privatives. You say what in the world are you talking about, alpha privatives? It has a very simple definition and I’ll explain it to you as we get there, and you’ll see the concept and you’ll say oh, that word is a little intimidating at first but the concept is very easy to understand. And then finally the whole thing will wrap up, verses 5-7, through four concluding characteristics. Now we won’t be getting through all of these today but we can at least make a start.

But notice the warning of difficulty and danger that is on the horizon. Paul says, 1 Timothy 3:1, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.” You’ll notice that he says right at the beginning of that verse, “realize this,” in other words, know this. This is not something that you can opt out of, this is something that is going to come. The question is not a matter of “if” but “when.” And these difficult times are going to come “in the last days.”

Now what are “the last days”? Many people think that’s the seven year tribulation period, and the millennial kingdom that follows. But you see, that tribulation period is related to God’s program with Israel. This is a church age letter written by Paul to a pastor so he is not talking about the tribulation period and the millennial kingdom that follows, he is talking about what is going to happen as the church age reaches its conclusion.

We are living in a very unique period of time in God’s program, called the age of the church, it started with the day of Pentecost and it will end with the rapture, and as we get closer and closer to the rapture we enter into this time period called “the last days.” Technically speaking “the last days” started in the first century. Hebrews 1:2 says, “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…” So the last days are already started, but you see, what Paul is getting at here is not the last days just in terms of the church but the last days in terms of how the church is going to end.

For example, in 1 Timothy 4:1 it talks about the later times. The later times of what? The later times of the church age, the whole thing is referred to as “the last days,” the tail end of it would be the latter times. (1 Timothy 4:1, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”)

Now these characteristics started in Paul’s day because as you drop down to verse 5 Paul tells Timothy to “avoid such men as these.” So these characteristics aren’t brand new, they were going on in Paul’s day. But as you drop down to verse 13 it’s very clear that Paul is not just talking about things happening in his own day, he’s talking about things that will increase with greater prevalence as the church age is ready to wind up because it says in verse 13, “evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse…” So yes, Timothy, it is bad but cheer up, it’s going to get worse, and it’s going to get a lot worse.

So that’s, I think what he means by these “last days.” Every time you see the word “last days” in the Bible you need to ask yourself what is the context of that phrase? In context I believe “last days” is a reference here to not simply the beginning of the church age but the tail end, if you will, of the age of the church.

So what is going to happen? “Realize this, that in the last days difficult seasons” it’s sometimes translated, or “difficult times will come.” I can’t tell you how many preachers I know that preach a message that we’re bringing in the kingdom. The Christian church is succeeding and missionaries like to talk about their success and boast their numbers. A lot of their numbers are what I would call exaggerated; I like call that “evangelastically” speaking, because generally what is happening is the church is losing…everywhere the church blossoms the church eventually loses a foothold over that culture.

For example, how many people do you know that are attendees of the church at Ephesus, or Laodicea, or Colossae? Those are all churches in the Asia Minor area that were vibrant churches. I don’t see…I can’t go and attend a worship service at Ephesus today, those are piles of rock. In fact, as those churches died out they were replaced by Islamic strongholds. The fastest growing religion in the world today is not Christianity; the fastest growing religion today is Islam. Now they can cheat on that because they can convert you through the sword and we don’t do that, thankfully. But that’s why they’re growing, to a large extent, and God’s church is shrinking. I don’t mean to be too much of a pessamillennialist here today because people are still getting saved, Jesus said, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” God is always at work. But don’t look for this planet to become Christianized prior to the return of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 16:18, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”)

The only kingdom that will be ushered in will be the kingdom that Jesus sets up on His own. And so many Christians have bought into this “kingdom now” belief system where they actually think they are setting up the kingdom of God on the earth without the King. And they ignore passages like this that says, “in the last days difficult time will come.” Well, difficult for who exactly? Difficult for anybody, man or woman, but in this case Timothy who wants to stand for truth. Standing for truth within an environment where things are deteriorating makes life difficult for a person that cares about God, cares about spirituality, cares about truth. And this word here, “difficult” times is an interesting word, the word “difficult,” it refers to two things. Number 1, difficulty and number 2 danger. So it’s a word that refers to both of those ideas, difficulty and danger.

Now let me see if I can illustrate this for you. I just spent the last week walking all over the Orlando Disney World Amusement Park. Now what if I had to do that with a 50 pound backpack on my back, my wife actually was carrying a backpack, it probably was 50 pounds, but what if I had a backpack on my back and then someone put a boulder inside of it. That would make my journey difficult. And then someone says guess what, all over this amusement park are landmines, and if you step on one you could die. So that adds the concept of danger. So I’m walking around with this 50 pound backpack and any moment I could step on a landmine and lose life or limb. So it’s not just difficulty Timothy is going to face, it’s danger he’s going to face as well.

And the primary danger that Timothy is going to face is in the church. This is a pastoral letter; Timothy is a pastor. Paul is describing a time when the spirit of the world will invade the church. And the church, in essence, will become just like the thinking and the value system of the world. And once that time hits Timothy and all those that are seeking to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, you will encounter difficulty and danger.

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times…” notice this last expression, “will come.” This is not something that you can opt out of; this time is on the horizon. 2 Peter 3:3 talks along the same lines and it says: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come (with their mocking, following after their own lusts).” The mockers and those who ridicule the things of God are coming, you can’t opt out of this; they’re on the horizon. It’s inevitable is what he’s saying.

In other words, we can put it this way, this is actually a promise from God. What is a promise of God to us? Here it is… you ready? “But in the last days difficult times will come.” Ironclad promise from God, who cannot lie. So what are people going to become like once these days of danger and difficult arise?

Number 1, and this is my first category, people will be involved in misplaced love, misplaced affections. And there are actually three areas of misplaced love that Paul highlights here; the first two are in verse 2, the last one is in verse 4. The first thing that people will become like is they will become “lovers of self.” And notice verse 2, I’ll read the whole verse, “For men will become lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy.”

The first characteristics that Paul highlights are misplaced love. The first misplaced love that people will be enraptured by is a love, not for God, but a love for self. If we were using a modern day psychological vernacular we would call this narcissism, a total preoccupation with one’s self. And part of this is a doctrine that we call humanism. Humanism is the idea that man is the center of all things and God, if He exists at all, is either non-existent, if He doesn’t exist He doesn’t exist at all, or if He does exist He’s sort of irrelevant. Kind of like the clock-maker, or watch-maker view of God, He kind of wound up this universe and set everything in motion and then departed and we’re to live our lives down here and if God exists at all, He is not someone that we submit to, He’s not someone we believe in, He is not someone that we pray to, He is not even someone that intervenes in society. We call this deism, deist, deism.

And when God is dismissed from the equation what takes over is humanism. Now people are all upset because religion got thrown out of the public schools in the 1960’s. The Supreme Court threw out the Bible, threw out prayer, and all of those kind of things from the public schools. My own mother, who grew up in the Houston area, tells me of how her own teacher, as I believe a first grader or second grader or even in kindergarten would read to the class from Psalm 23. And I said to my mom, did she do that in front of the whole class. She said yeah, that was the standard operating procedure.

Well, one day the Supreme Court got a hold of these practices and just ended them all. And so people say well, we threw religion out of the schools. May I just beg to differ with you on that? The public schools today are as religious as they’ve ever been; it’s just the religion that is being taught today is not Christianity or Biblicism, it is a doctrine called humanism.

If you want to know what these schools are teaching you just read a couple of very short books: Humanist Manifesto 1, signed in 1933; Humanist Manifesto 2, signed in 1973, and Humanism 2,000 signed by leading thinkers Isaac Asimov, like Lester Mondale, the brother of our former Vice President, Walter Mondale. And you read those volumes and they read like creeds of a church. They read like doctrinal statements, except the doctrine that is being communicated is not biblical doctrine, it is humanistic doctrine. And the overarching belief system in humanism is that man is the center of all things and God, if He exists at all is completely irrelevant. Therefore, ethics are situational, we make up our own ethics as we go.

And of course, humanists believe that the end game to everything is a one-world government, and don’t take my word for it, read these documents yourself, they’re fairly short. You can find them easily on the Internet and you’ll see a set of creeds. But the thing that is so frustrating to me is the humanist society has 501C3 tax exempt status. Well, that’s what we have, don’t we, as Christians? Most of our churches and organizations, 501C3 tax exempt status. They can teach their religion in school but we can’t teach ours. And see, we’ve been completely ripped off and cheated to a very large extent.

But Paul predicted it would come. The dominant viewpoint would come when humanism enters the picture. And there’s even a magazine out there called Self Magazine, and I was going to put some of the covers of Self Magazine on the screen for you and I searched through cover after cover after cover and the covers were so sexually explicit I couldn’t put any on the screen because I couldn’t find a neutral cover. And this is the type of thing that would come in the last days, a total narcissism or a preoccupation with self, “lovers of self.”

Now the church growth gurus have figured this out. The church growth gurus have said look, there’s more unbelievers out there than believers, right…basic marketing. So what we have to do to get the church to grow is we have to create a marketing mix that appeals to all of these unsaved, unregenerate people. And that’s just basic textbook marketing, you come up with a marketing mix to satisfy the masses and we’re told that if you do this as you are building a church that your church will grow.

And once that happens, and by the way, it works in the sense that you can fill up auditoriums with this style of ministry, but once that happens what happens to God’s church? The church becomes just like the world. The spirit of the world invades the church and Timothy, once that happens it’s going to be difficult on you because you’re the type of person that wants to hold to the truth in that kind of environment.

And as the church becomes man-focused they will demand doctrines that appeal to them. This is why the doctrine of works is so popular in Christianity because it is an appeal to my pride. If I can do something to earn favor before God then I get part of the bragging rights. This is why the doctrine of grace falls into hard times in such an environment because grace means unmerited favor. If it’s unmerited favor then I have nothing to boast in and that contradicts basic human pride. In fact, Paul, in Romans 3:27 talks about the doctrine of grace and he says this: “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. (By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith).”

So as the church becomes like the world they begin to demand things that appeal to a humanistic viewpoint and understanding. The church becomes identical to the world that it’s supposed to reach. And by the way, let me say this: if the church becomes like the world it has no moral authority any longer to speak to the world. Once the church is just like the world the unsaved world says well, those so-called Christians are no different than us, their message has no value.

What gives our message authority is that we are, as Paul calls us in Titus, a peculiar people. (Titus 2:14, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” KJV) Now weird people, not people that have weird social hang-ups and things like this, but a “peculiar people” in the sense that we march to the beat of a different drummer. We have a morality and a value system that is different than the world. The unsaved world looks at that and they say there must be something special about this Christianity. And consequently we have a prophetic voice to the world when we are separate from the world. And that’s why Satan’s game is always to get us to be just like the world because yes, you can fill up buildings but your prophetic voice is neutralized the moment we become just like the world.

One of the things that’s very interesting to me to see develop in this environment is the demand that people have for relevant Bible teaching. They are not interested primarily today in Bible teaching; they want it to be relevant, that needs to speak to me, it needs to speak to my life, it needs to speak to exactly what I am going through. And I think God, in His grace, provides that through the faithful teaching of His Word. But let me just tell you something, that is a new development. Prior generations were happy just to hear the Word of God at all.

This generation is very different in the sense that I don’t want to hear the Word of God, I don’t want to hear about the genealogies, I don’t want to hear that stuff in Leviticus, what I want is for the preacher to take a text and immediately apply it to my life. I’m not against application but what I’m saying is there’s a shift taking place in our thinking, particularly here in the West where hearing the Word of God is not enough. There is a demand for immediate relevance and application and if you don’t serve it up and deliver it I’ll go somewhere that will. That is the spirit of the times in which we live.

And this is exactly what Paul said, people come to church focused not on God, not on His truth, but focused on myself and my own narcissistic tendencies. And the marketing mix had better cater quick to me, and if it doesn’t, just like in the business world or in the world of retail I’ll go find someone that serves up the right marketing mix. God help us to see what’s happening. It’s tragic but at the same time it’s very well predicted.

Well, what else is going to happen? Back to verse 2, “For men will be lovers of self,” notice this next phrase, “lovers of money” “lovers of self” is narcissism, “lovers of money” is materialism. Materialism is this idea where your whole preoccupation in life is the acquisition and the accumulation of money and material things. Now this word translated “lovers of money” is really a compound word which simply means two words combined into one, and when you look at that word the way it’s written in Greek what it translates as, or how it actually reads is “lovers of silver.” Not “lovers of money” but “lovers of silver.”

Now why would Paul use this terminology “lovers of silver”? I believe it’s designed by Paul to conjure up memories of one of the disciples. Judas, and as you know the story from Matthew 26:14-16, Matthew 27:3-10, Judas sold out…could you imagine selling out the Second Member of the Godhead? Selling out the greatest treasure that has ever walked on this earth? Selling Him out for what?

(Matthew 26:14, “Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, [15] and said, ‘What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?’ And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. {16] From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.”

Matthew 27:3-10, “Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, [4] saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” [5] And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. [6] The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” [7] And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. [8] For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. [9] Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel; [10] AND THEY GAVE THEM FOR THE POTTER’S FIELD, AS THE LORD DIRECTED ME.”)

For thirty pieces of silver. Everybody has their price, we are told. For Judas the price to my mind wasn’t all that high, thirty pieces of silver and I’m gone from Christ. That is what this word “lovers of silver” communicates. So in the last days people would not just be “lovers of self,” they would become “lovers of money.”

Now once again, the church marketers have this one figured out. If people in the last days will become “lovers of money” let’s design a gospel, called the prosperity gospel, which appeals to people’s materialistic impulses. We will take a lot of Scriptures out of context, mostly from the Old Testament and God’s dealings with Israel and we will get on so-called Christian television and we will make a case for the fact that if you are a Christian you are a child of the King and consequently you are entitled to a life of health, wealth, prosperity and leisure.

How many people do we know that have been sucked into this devilish doctrine, which frankly has no support whatsoever, particularly in the New Testament. Paul says in the book of Philippians if I get along with much – great, if I get along with just a little bit that’s fine too, for “I have learned the secret” of contentment. (Philippians 4:11, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. [12] I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”)

It doesn’t sound to me like Paul had bought into prosperity gospel. When prosperity came Paul was eager to accept that, but when times of scarcity came he accepted that from the hand of God as well. Paul never lived his life as if there was some ironclad promise from God to get rich.

And isn’t it interesting that the prosperity gospel ends at the borders of America. You go to Mexico, you go to some distant third world country where people are poverty stricken and you tell them that God wants them rich and you see how much traction that doctrine will have. It works in America because we have an economy to sustain the doctrine. Well what about other places of the world where that doctrine cannot be sustained economically? The prosperity doctrine, no matter how you analyze it pragmatically or biblically it simply is a false doctrine concocted by men to appeal to man’s materialistic impulses.

And let me tell you this much also, based on the authority of the Word of God, if your life is wrapped up in material things then frankly you’re going to have a very difficult time serving the Lord, and walking with the Lord. Matthew 6:24, you all know the verse, it says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Now let me give you the other side of this equation. Is money wrong? The Bible never condemns money; what it condemns is the love of money. There’s a big difference between those two. In fact, in 1 Timothy, chapter 6, beginning at verse 6 dealt with this very issue. He says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. [7] For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. [8] If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. [9] But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. [10] For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

You’ll notice that the Bible never condemns money; what it condemns is a materialistic attitude where the love of one’s life is money. If you are a Christian that happens to be blessed financially of the Lord, and there are many people in this church that are just like that, then praise the Lord, but understand that the money could be here today and gone tomorrow. And the focus of your life is not on money; the focus of your life is on the Lord and He may choose to bless you with a certain abundance so you in turn can be a blessing. But the focus of one’s life is not money in and of itself.

Paul continues on in 1 Timothy 6, verses 17-19 and he says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited, that would be rich in this present world, not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” Nothing wrong with enjoying financial abundance if our hearts are in the right place. Verse 18, “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works,” you see, if you have a financial surplus you have an ability to bless, and one of these days God is going to call you to an account regarding how you use those resources He entrusted to you. “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share [19] storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”

You know, one of the followers of Jesus Christ was extraordinarily wealthy, a man named Joseph of Arimathea. In fact, Christ was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and Matthew 27:57 says this, “When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.” You’ll notice there that Joseph of Arimathea, Matthew 27:57, is called rich, and in the same context he is called “a disciple of Jesus Christ.” So being wealthy and being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is a possibility.

The Bible is not condemning money; what it is condemning is when money becomes our focus, it becomes the preoccupation of our hearts. And as that happens there is no longer any room for God. But what is going to happen in the last days is people will not just be “lovers of self” but they will also be “lovers of money.” You know, I know very, very wealthy people that don’t love money; I know very, very poor people that do love money. Whether you have money or don’t have money, that’s not the issue. The issue is what is your heart communicating? What is the priority of your life? What is your focus? From what or from who do you derive your self-image?

And the reason why, when the stock market crashed in the 1930’s people began jumping out of buildings and committing suicide is because those types of people weren’t just people that had money, they were people that loved money. And riches can take wings, “here today, gone tomorrow” and we need to monitor our hearts very carefully on this issue of finances. But in the last days people will become not just lovers of self but lovers of money.

There’s another characteristic of misplaced love and this has to do with “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” That’s all the way down in verse 4. You say well, wait a minute, why are you skipping down to verse 4? I’m skipping down to verse 4 because the thought begins in verse 2 and concludes in verse 4. It’s what you call an intercoluthon. And the rest of the material in verses 2, 3 and 4 fills out the complete thought. So it’s sort of like a sandwich, you have the thought beginning, verse 2, you have the thought ending, verse 4 and everything in between, characteristics that we haven’t spoken of yet fill out that complete thought. So what is the complete thought? In the last days people will become lovers of self rather than lovers of God. That’s the whole thought. And so that’s why I’m skipping down to verse 4.

The third characteristic of misplaced love that will manifest itself in the last days and actually enter Christ’s church is that people will be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” So the first attribute, “lovers of self” is narcissism, the second characteristic, “lovers of money” is materialism. The third characteristic, “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” is hedonism. Hedonism is a lifestyle where the focus in your life is the pursuit of pleasure.

Now let me tell you something that you’ll never hear in a legalistic church: you ready? Here it comes: sin is fun. Did you all hear me correctly? Sin is fun! Sin is enjoyable. I am not going to sell you a line that says sin is not fun; sin is fun. There is always a window, very temporary window I might add, of pleasure that sin introduces. And the devil is so good at getting us to focus on that short window of pleasure and to take our eyes off of the long-term consequences of sin.

And by the way, the long-term consequences of sin are going to stick around in your life a lot longer than the momentary window of pleasure that sin introduced. You go out and you are sexually promiscuous, there’s some fun in that. But isn’t it interesting that the venereal disease, the unwanted pregnancy, the guilt, all of these things that the devil doesn’t tell you about, those things stick around, do they not, a lot longer than the window of pleasure that closed a long time ago.

Now, this is pure biblical teaching. Hebrews 11:25 puts it this way concerning Moses: “choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” Hebrews 11:25 is very clear that there is “passing pleasures of sin.” And a hedonist is one who is focused primarily on this brief momentary window of pleasure. In fact, their life is spent focused on this window of pleasure. In fact, they go from experience to experience to experience seeking this window of pleasure.

It’s a lot like, going back to my amusement park example, I have a little personal experience with this given what I did last week, standing in line at the amusement park waiting to get on the ride. You stand and you stand and you stand, sometimes up to an hour, you get on the ride, you blink and it’s over. Was it fun? Sure it was fun, but the fun certainly disappeared quickly. It’s like jumping off a two story building, it’s a lot of fun until you hit the ground, then it’s not so much fun anymore. That’s sort of what sin is like.

And the problem with the hedonist is they love, listen to me very carefully, they love their sin. And consequently they stay away from God because they know that God, if you move into His Light, is going to confront you about your sin. John 3:19 puts it this way, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world,” watch this, “and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” What an astounding verse that is. The Light, Jesus Christ, came into the world. You would expect the world to stand up and applaud. You would expect if Light entered the room that people would embrace Christ, they would embrace the Light. John says it’s the exact opposite.

John 3:19 says “the Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” A lot of people stay away from God, the heathen stays away from God because they love the momentary pleasure that sin introduced.

Let me ask you something? Is there something going on in your life right now as a Christian? Something that you keep yielding to over and over and over again and yet you have not submitted that to God and the reason you have not submitted that habit to God is simply this, you have to be honest with yourself and say I love this pleasure, I love this pleasure more than I love God. That is a heathenistic lifestyle and this is the very thing that would come in the last days. There would be fewer and fewer amounts of people that would be willing to relinquish sin to God and under His control rather than give up the pleasure that sin introduced.

What are the last days going to be like? They’re going to be characterized outside the church and inside the church by misplaced love. Love of self — narcissism. Lovers or money — materialism. Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — hedonism.

Well, cheer up, it’s about to get worse, and we’ll probably just make it through here these next three, most of which are in verse 2 related to pride. Not only in the last days would people become candidates for misplaced affection, but they would be wrapped up in pride. Notice three things that are brought up here, people will become boastful, they would become arrogant, and number 2, they would become revilers. Boastful, verse 2, has to do with prideful words; it has to do with the content or the quality of one’s speech. Speech, which is always lifting up one’s self, promoting one’s self — look at me, look at my accomplishments, look at my talents, look at how significant I am, look at how important I am. Going on and on, bragging about oneself; that is what boasting means. It’s prideful words.

1 John 2:16 makes this statement, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” What is the world like? It’s characterized by the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and notice this third category, “the boastful pride of life.”

In fact, the human being that will be the furthest away from God in the future will be the antichrist. What is the characteristic of the antichrist that is brought to our attention over and over again in God’s Word? The characteristic of the antichrist will be his big mouth; that’s why some refer to the antichrist as Mr. Big Mouth. Every time you find a Scripture passage dealing with the subject of the antichrist you will see that attention is always called to his boastful, prideful words.

Daniel 7:8 says this: “While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn” speaking of the antichrist, “possessed eyes like the eyes of a man” watch this, “and a mouth” doing what? “uttering great boasts.” Boastful words. Revelation 13:5 says this: “There was given to him” that’s the antichrist, the beast, “There was given to him a mouth speaking” what? “arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.”

Let me tell you something about God. I don’t know a lot about God, believe it or not, but I know this much: God hates boasting. God hates pride and He hates the content of one’s speech that is prideful. That’s why when He designed the plan of salvation, which is unmerited favor, He designed it in such a way that a human being once receiving the free gift could never boast in it. Romans 3:27 says this: “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. (By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.)” I think there’s going to be a lot of variety in heaven but one thing you will not see in heaven is boastful speech because all of us will know that the reason we are there is not because of our own merits and what we have done, but because of what He has done and we simply receive it as a free gift.

We quote, oftentimes, Ephesians 2:8-9, most of you know this by heart, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; [10] not as a result of works,” most of us when we quote that verse cut it off right there, but have you read the reset of verse 10? “so that no one may boast.” When God put together the plan of salvation He did it in such a way that it would eliminate human pride and consequently eliminate human boasting.

1 Corinthians 1:29, a very short verse, says this: “So that no man may boast before God.” I don’t know a lot about God, but I know this much, that God hates pride, He hates human boasting and tragically what will manifest itself in the last days and actually enter Christ’s church would be men becoming lovers of self, lovers of money and very boastful.

Another characteristic related to pride is arrogance. Notice again verse 2, “For men will become lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful,” now notice this next term, “arrogant.” If boastfulness refers to prideful words, arrogance refers to a prideful attitude. The attitude that we have about ourselves oftentimes dictates the content of our speech, but the ultimate root of pride is not one’s speech but it’s one’s attitude, a prideful attitude.

A prideful attitude is the sin that sank Satan. If you want to understand about pride and its ugly consequences you would study the doctrine of the devil. Who is the devil? Where did he come from? Isaiah 14:12-15 puts it this way, referring to the fall of Lucifer, who ultimately became Satan. Isaiah 14 says, “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! you have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!” How did this fall happen? Verse 13 says, “But you said in your heart,” there was something happening in the heart of this beautiful creature that God made called Lucifer and what was happening in his heart were what we call the five “I will” statements.

This is the origin of sin in the universe, when God’s creature asserted his will against God’s. What was Lucifer saying in his heart? “I” notice the narcissism, “‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, I will sit on the mount of assembly, in the recesses of the north. [14] ‘I” looks like the fellow has an “I” problem doesn’t it, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” Verse 15, “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.” If you want to know what the sin is that sank Satan it’s exactly what Paul is predicting here in the church in the last days…arrogance! Not just arrogant words but an arrogant attitude. A parallel passage related to the sin that sank Satan is found in Ezekiel 28:17, which says, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you.” If you, any of us, are people of pride we are on a collision course with the God of the universe.

Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” You say well, can you give me something practical from the Bible? You want to know how practical this is? How do you pick church leaders? Aren’t we voting on that? Aren’t we filling out ballots and things and submitting names? How do you pick people? Talent? Looks? Socio-economic status? How do you pick elders and deacons within a church. 1 Timothy 3:6 tells you, it says: “and not a new convert,” he can’t be a baby Christian in other words; why not, “so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.”

Well, what is “the condemnation incurred by the devil”? It is the sin that sank Satan — “pride goeth before destruction.” Sadly I’ve watched this in the number of years I’ve been in the ministry, when somebody who is a fairly new Christian mistakenly is put into a position of influence over the church and because they’re in that position many times God uses it and how quickly, if they’re character has not been shaped and molded properly, they will quickly begin to take credit for what God is doing through them. And as they begin to take credit, as the focus turns off of Christ and onto themselves a very arrogant and prideful attitude begins to manifest itself and it’s just a matter of time before such a person falls into the sin that sank Satan.

This is why Paul pleads with Timothy in the church at Ephesus, do not place a new convert into a position of authority within Christ’s church because they don’t have the character yet to handle their effectiveness, and they will quickly become enraptured with themselves and they will fall as a result.

The hall of the humble. Do a study sometime of all of the people in the Bible lifted up with pride; look at what happens to them. Satan lost his position in heaven. Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4, who took credit for the Neo-Babylonian Empire, he says is this not the empire that I myself have created? He became an animal, a mad man for seven years. (Daniel 4:30, “The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’”) He became an animal, a mad man for seven years.

Take, for example, Herod Agrippa, Acts 12, people were listening to him speak and as he was speaking with such eloquence the people were saying “‘The voice of a god, and not of a man!’” And Herod sort of took a little credit for that and instantly he was killed, “an angel of the Lord struck him dead and his body was eaten with worms.” (Acts 12:23)

One of the members of the hall of humbled that I don’t have here is Uzziah, study his life. 2 Chronicles 26, he was lifted up with pride because of his success and he did something that he was told never to do…he usurped the priestly prerogatives, he went into the temple and started, as a king, to do the things that only a priest is to do and God was very clear, kings do their thing, priests do their thing, the two offices are not to co-mingle. (2 Chronicles 26:16, “But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.”)

In fact, the kings come from the tribe of Judah, the priests come from the tribe of Levi. And Uzziah, because of his success and reading his own newspaper clippings felt that somehow the rules didn’t apply to him. And he violated the laws of God and was smote head to toe with leprosy and spent the remainder of his days as a leper. (2 Chronicles 26:19-20, “But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priest, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the altar of incense. [20] And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the LORD had smitten him. [21] King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death…”)

If you in your heart are saying in your place of business, in your ministry, in your moral conduct that the rules that govern everybody else don’t apply to me, I would say you need to get on your knees, we need to get on our knees and ask ourselves before the Lord to cure us of this prideful attitude that we have.

You know, Paul struggled with pride. 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, he was lifted into the third heaven, and he, in the third heaven heard things that a man is not fit to hear. And the things that he heard were so glorious he couldn’t even put them into a human language. And he came back to the earth and he struggled all of his days with pride. And God said I’ve got the remedy for that. You ready? The thorn in the flesh. It’s something that bothered him and harassed him, we’re not even sure exactly what it is except it hurt, ouch. It’s something that he asked the Lord three times to take away but the Lord never took it away because the Lord wanted Paul emptied of self so he could remain useable.

(2 Corinthians 12:1-10, “1Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. [2] I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. [3] And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—[4] was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. [5] On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. [6] For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. [7] Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! [8] Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. [9]And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. [10] Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”)

There are things going on in your life where you’ve asked the Lord, take it away, take it away, take it away, and somehow the Lord keeps saying no, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”) Perhaps it’s an issue of pride; if that thorn were removed from your life think of the arrogant person you would be; think of how you would not cry out to God for His enablement and His help, and you would trust in yourself. And the moment that happens you’re on a collision course with the God of the universe.

A very different way of looking at suffering isn’t it. What would the last days be characterized by? Boastful words and an arrogant attitude.

One more and we’re finished, number 3, people would become revilers, again verse 2, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers,” now reviler here is not a very good translation. What the Greek says is a blasphemer. What is a blasphemer? A blasphemer is someone who uses speech in an abusive way, abusive language, irreverent speech towards God many times, and towards one’s fellow man many times as well. And I put this under the category of pride because it is a characteristic of people whereby they try to build themselves up by tearing someone down. Constant put downs, constant critiques of other people. And at the end of the day what it is, it’s an attitude of pride where they’re trying to make themselves look good by way of comparison, through blasphemous or abusive speech.

If we, if you, if all of us were the type of people that are constantly nitpicking, tearing down, criticizing, critiquing, we have to ask ourselves, have we become people of pride? Am I so interested in self-promotion and exaltation that I will pursue that at the expense of somebody else.

What are the last days like? Boastful words, an arrogant attitude and blasphemous or reviling speech. And if that weren’t enough the other attributes that we’ve covered today related to the last days would be misplaced love, lovers of self, lovers of money, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Assuming anybody comes to church next week we’ll be covering the remaining two-thirds of this list. Shall we pray.

Father, we are humbled by this direct teaching You’ve given us. Thank you for giving us reality and making us aware of these ugly aspects of humanity that we all fall prey to so frequently, and are coming upon us, particularly in our culture and our churches in greater and greater proportions. Help us to focus on these things and ask by your grace and Spirit that we will become not like these things as we walk before You this week. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory, we ask these things in Jesus’ name. And God’s people said…Amen.

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