2 Timothy 3:1-9
3 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
“The last days” is a term that many concern themselves with. It is easy to get caught up in trying to determine where we are on the “timeline” and I have met some who revolve their lives around preparing for the end of time as we know it. How ironic that Paul warns against falling into this trap as it is a sign of the last days? Paul uses some strong terminology here and I think it is prudent to once again try not to use it as a list by which to judge others. While he points out personalities to avoid, notice he doesn’t tell Timothy to “do” anything with them. Rather he warns that associating with such people will simply lead him astray, burden his soul, and not lead to any benefit.
Paul uses two specific people that Timothy knows about to make his point. My study bible suggests these men were two of the magicians whom the Pharoah in the story of Moses called to “square off” with Moses. Regardless of who they actually were, Paul’s point is clear: they were very knowledgeable and skillful but still lacked the truth of God. How can we tell if someone (including ourselves) lacks the truth of God? Verses 2-7 gives us a glimpse. If we can look honestly at ourselves, deep in the places of our souls, we can question our own lives to see how much of the truth of God we have grabbed ahold of.
It is very easy for us to take this “checklist” and compare it to the lives of others and judge them for their lack of relationship with God. However, I’d like to challenge myself (and you) to turn the perspective inward. It may be difficult for us to honestly evaluate our hearts, but it is when true growth occurs. If you cannot do this (and I say this in the least judgmental way possible) then you are not truly seeking the truth. Sometimes we don’t want to seek the truth because it scares us. The truth is the light that exposes everything which hides in the darkness. It is ok to be scared or uneasy. It is a good indication that you are headed in the right direction. It helps to do it with a trustworthy friend who maybe has gone through it before.
Let us understand, however, that it is not our actions alone that make us righteous or holy or “good”. Rather Paul here is saying that the actions of others (and ourselves) are an indication of our “heart condition”. It is they symptom or indicator of the condition of our hearts and whether or not they are filled with the truth of God or otherwise. We must always inventory our actions so that we can know where we are in regards to God’s truth. Just as we pay attention when we begin to have a cough or runny nose as an indication of a cold, these symptoms indicate when we have begun to stray from the truth.
How many of these symptoms have you displayed lately? What untruths are causing these symptoms to occur and what must be done to remedy the illness within you?