(2 Timothy 3:1-7) But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Have you ever been suckered punched in the face? If not, good for you, but imagine someone walking up to you calling a derogatory name and… BAM. To who ever s being referred to in II Timothy 3:1-7, the words may hit like and insult then a sucker punch.
II Timothy 3:1-7, came from Paul to his protégé Timothy: a young pastor of the Ephesians Church. In two letters to Timothy, we learn that many of those in the Ephesian Church, were so beholden to their idea of Christian seniority and self-righteousness, that they blasted godly young pastor, with intimidation and insult. The there was also a prevalence of false doctrine. Paul did not instruct Timothy to ignore these issues but handle them as led by the Holy Spirit.
When we read the words of II Timothy 3:1-7, we understand, Paul was not speaking about the general condition of man, but the state of the Church in the very last days; where the true church would need to contend with and avoid being overcome in the apostacy described in the verses. Therefore, the perilous times would not only include the rage of Satan’s world kingdom, but a church overrun with those “having a form of godliness but denying the power” of godliness.
These perilous times (furious, fierce, and dangerous days), are designed by the enemy to pound the church and its leaders into falling away from the true faith (apostacy), into a tainted and perverse form of Christianity, which is not godly or holy, yet appears to be to the undiscerning. Timothy was living in the advent of last days, as we are living awfully close of the very end of the last days.
Can anyone argue the advance of wickedness over the last 50 years, which in addition to the weight of fulfilled prophecy, reveals we are indeed in the height of the fullness of this passage? This is true not only in the lost world, but in a majority of what passes for Christianity.
Suggesting this passage speaks primarily about the church, brings the ire of many a professing Christian, as does preaching on overcoming sin, living a Holy life, or suggesting we need to humble ourselves and seek the Lord together or pray. Timothy was fighting against these things invading the church then, we are being overcome by them now more and more. Speaking about them, even in love, is being taken more as an insult to the hearer than God’s loving correction (Proverbs 3:11-12).
If we want to avoid the most severe and apparent language of II Timothy 3:1-7, “having a form of godliness, but denying its power” (religion without Holy Spirit empowerment or presence)—being “loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts” (religious apostacy)—”always learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (a profession of salvation, with a corresponding life); we need to know why, and how to recover, or risk falling away from the faith once delivered to the saints.
(Jeremiah 6:10-12) To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; a they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD. I am weary of holding it in. “I will pour it out on the children outside, and on the assembly of young men together; for even the husband shall be taken with the wife, the aged with him who is full of days. And their houses shall be turned over to others, fields and wives together; for I will stretch out My hand against the inhabitants of the land,” says the LORD.
We will pay specific attention to verse 10. Before we dive in, it is important to understand that from verse one of Jeremiah 6, the Lord desires to warn His people to repent and stage off coming judgment. It is this reason which reveals the grief of the Lord in verse 10 “To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear?”.
What was the reason they could not hear the call of the Lord to repentance and return to Him with their full heart? Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them. The reason for them not hearing the word of the Lord is the same reason we can fall into fulfilling the three statements in bold from II Timothy 3:1-7, above. But what does it mean that the word of the Lord can be a reproach to them or us?
HIS WORD BECOMES AND CONTEMPTUOUS INSULT TO HIS PEOPLE
Back in September when I first really studied this passage, I was stunned to learn what the word reproach means in this passage. “reproach” is defined in the Hebrew language in this passage as “a rude disgraceful insult… the pudenda; which causing contempt”.
The first three I get, but the pudenda had me guessing. Upon looking it up I found the word contemptuous force of a rude, disgraceful insult. The “pudenda” is the word in Hebrew used to describe the female genitalia.
The Lord was saying to Israel that when Jeremiah speaks My word, it was akin to insulting a man by labeling him as female genitalia. Wow! In other words, when the prophet spoke the word for their good, they took it as an insult against them, which engendered contempt against the prophet and God Himself.
Was this because Jeremiah lacked tack? No. was it because they had low self-esteem? No. Was it because God was a kill joy, and expected too much from them? No, no at all.
It is this attitude of heart, which is either never repented of, or springs up over time, which leads to a form of godliness, which denies the power—being loaded with sins and carried away in various lusts—and always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the One who is the Truth.
Let us face facts, concerning the church in America: We have more sin practice in our midst than growing in the practice of righteousness and true holiness. We have more in bondage than free in Christ. We have more selfishness than the mind of Christ and more justifiers of failure than overcomers.
Why is this the case when we have access to His written word? Because we are not being taught by the One who is the power of godliness: The Holy Spirit!
We have too many devotionals and bible readers and list prayers, but little absolute surrender to seek the Lord in the secret place, be led by Him in the moment and obey His word no matter what; for the sake of love.
Because this is the case for so many Christians in the U.S. (that profess Christ but do what is right in their own sight), when called to “come out from among the world and be separate”— or to “Lay down our carnal worldly lusts and amusements”— Or we are told there is more to salvation than being forgiven and holding on till the rapture; we behave like the actor in the movie “Taxi Driver” as if to say “Are you talking to me?”.
As a pastor for almost 18 years, I have gotten the above attitude or “Who does he think he is?” or “I will not heed his call!” consistently, in almost a majority of those ministered to. We must remember the “he” speaking is not Jeremiah or Mike or some other preacher; it is the LORD. We must be careful not to allow His word to become an insult to us, a contemptuous label stoking pride and bitterness.
In my next blog we will discover why His word was a reproach, a vile insult, rather than the grace and love of God His word was and is, as He called them and us to His kingdom.