by Wayne Barber
We are living in a day when it seems that there is a line being drawn between those who are using God's name to display their own abilities and those who are allowing Him to use their lives to display His power and presence. The more those who love Christ adhere to a life that is totally surrendered to Him and to His Will, the more persecution abounds by those who supposedly love Him. One would expect such treatment from the world, but when it falls within the church walls it is hard to swallow. But we should not be that surprised.
Paul, in writing to Timothy from prison, tells him that in the last days "difficult times" will come (2 Tim. 3:1). The term "last" is the term that means the last of the last days-"éschatos." It is the word used in Hebrews 1:2 when it says that God has spoken to us in these last days through His Son. The "last days" of all the ages on earth began when Christ came. So when Paul wrote this he was already in the "last days" when it came to the ages of mankind. But to use this word, which means the extreme last, the very last, he must be saying that in the "last of the last days" "difficult times will come."
"Difficult," translated "perilous" in the KJV, is the word "chalepós." It is the word translated by "violent" in Matthew 8:28 (nas): "And when He had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road." It means fierce, savage, mean.
The word for "times" is the word kairos, meaning opportunity or season. It won't be forever, and it is an "opportunity" for all believers. All things that God allows give opportunity to His people. So, in the last of the last days, fierce, savage, violent times will come. They won't last forever and will be opportunity to God's people.
Then Paul tells us who is responsible for these "difficult" times. It might surprise you! I think you will agree with me by the time we are finished that they are the religious lost-those who wear religious masks and are now members of the congregation, but who literally rebel at the "things of God."
Let's Look Behind the Masks With Paul
Beware folks, when you seek to live godly, and be a conduit for Christ to work through, there are those who will hate you...and they go to church with you. Who are these people? Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:2-5 they will be: "…men (who) will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…."
Now, let's look at these verses under the microscope. The people behind these religious masks are "lovers of self"-phílautos. It comes from philos and the word for self. It carries the idea of emotional attachment to themselves.
Now, when a person loves himself, he will naturally seek to please himself; so he will be a lover of money. It is interesting how Paul connects the two and puts them at the beginning of his list. Did you know that the Pharisees, the most religious people on earth, were said to be lovers of money? (See Luke 16:14.)
Paul goes on outlining the true nature of these religious lost people: They are "boastful"-alazón, used only here and in Romans 1:30, meaning those who call attention to themselves. These may be the most recognizable people in the church.
"Arrogant" comes from huper, meaning "over," and phaíno which means to put oneself into the light, or to make oneself evident to all; put another way, to shine before others; in short, one who makes everyone think he is above others.
We will continue this in our next column.