3 But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!
6 For among them are those who worm their way into households and capture idle women burdened down with sins, led along by a variety of passions, 7 always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
I’ve lost count of how many I’ve heard that left the church because they claim they weren’t getting enough out of the sermons. Simply put, they really are “always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Some, in their “learning”, become conceited (love of self), which is a form of idolatry. They begin to feel they are somehow special and it is their job to take their special message to the Church if not the world.
Today, I heard a good sermon on idolatry and many of the forms it can take. I’m not going to regurgitate the entire sermon, but some items of particular interest to the message of this blog is the avoidance of false teachers, with their pet ideas, pet opinions and/or pet doctrines. Any of these can become idols. This is why some obsess on things like the calendar, something over which they don’t even have authority, or tithing, which is usually just idolatry of money, and so on.
And, some just want a following after themselves.
17 Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them, 18 for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites. They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words.
Notice they serve their “own appetites”. It is a form of idolatry. Of course, their appetites might literally be their bellies, but it could be anything else they are metaphorically hungry for. We are commanded to “avoid them“.
17 Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things,
Again, harsh words! And, if their end is “destruction”, then what of their followers? Paul spoke over and over about false teachers, warning the brethren of his day, even “with tears”. Why? Because he knew the end was destruction for leader and follower alike!
Recently, I have been listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series on “Blueprint for Armageddon“. It is not a series for everyone. The descriptions of World War I are pretty graphic, as it probably was the worst war ever, so far, in terms of the amount and degree of human suffering. Also, each episode is about 4 hours long.
I am struck by historical parallels, though, and so I listen on as I have time. The times are frightfully similar right now to the events that led up to WWI.
There is another historical parallel taking place on a different plane, however. How much is the Church like it was in the first century AD? Divisions, squabbles over doctrine, even carrying on disputes that were supposedly settled, and so on, are characteristic of then and now. The Church was scattered both then and now, as well.
The main difference is that people today won’t kill you over your beliefs — or, will they? There certainly are some in the Middle East that would. As time marches on towards Armageddon, there will be others who will join them.
Then, what of our divisions and squabbles? Are they over things in which we will be preoccupied with when real persecution sets in?
How important will our idols be then?