II Timothy 3:1-11
1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra-which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
The word “difficulty” in verse 1 is the Greek word “chalepos” meaning, in this context, “hard to deal with”, “dangerous”. The main point in the verse is not so much that there is great wickedness everywhere, although that is certainly part of what God is telling us. The major point is that the times make it hard on the believer.
The Christian, who lives to please His Lord, is surrounded by ideas and behaviour that tempt to draw him away from the faith. If the culture were godly and everyone was seeking to please God, Christian living would be less difficult. But such is not the case. We live in the midst of great sin and we should not expect it to be otherwise.
The solution is not laws, politics. The solution is the Gospel. And in the saints the alternative to succumbing to the sin that abounds in the culture is the power of the Gospel at work within us. See verse 10 – after listing the ways the ungodly behave Paul’s comment to Timothy is “You however…”. We may have it difficult, but we do not have it impossible. We do not need to give in. This is a major theme of life in Christ as presented by the NT. Romans 12:1-2, Col. 2:8, Matthew 6, I John 2:15-17 and many others are all reminders to us that the Christian is called to live in this wicked world and not be polluted by its immorality. We can live, by the grace and power of God different from the world in which we live. It is the old “in, but not of” argument and it is right.
None of us can rightly say that the reason we sin is because the wickedness of those around us is too great. That would be a denial of the power of the Holy Spirit and the promises of God. Our sin is not God’s fault and it is not the culture’s fault. It is ours.
Today, in the face of temptations, take encouragement from the fact that God enables His people to live transformed lives, not conformed to this world. Prove today that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. There is no temptation that forces otherwise.