For an introduction to this series, click here.
October 27, 2007
Paul continues his instructions to his protege Timothy:
"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." (3:1-5)
Of course the "last days" Paul talks about are any time in the church age. Mankind is and always has been (at least since the Fall) depraved. Unfortunately, some people in the church are tolerant of evil and, in some cases, practice evil. These are the people Paul tells Timothy to avoid and, if necessary, separate from.
"For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men." (3:6-9)
Paul is not talking about sexual sin here. Instead he is talking about smooth-talking false teachers leading people, especially women, astray. Notice Paul says these women are "burdened with sins." These false teachers are very manipulative, and they use people's guilt against them. These teachers say nothing of the grace of God, and do not remind their hearers that God has already forgiven them and wants them to move ahead with their lives in His power. Instead they bring up the past against them. These teachers have a facade of intelligence, but they are foolish when it comes to the true wisdom of God
"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (3:12-17, ESV)
This is of course one of the foundational passages that states the doctrine of inspiration. Inspiration means that God supernaturally oversaw the work of the writers of scripture. Don't get this confused with mechanical dictation. There are certainly examples - passages from the Old Testament prophets and John's book of Revelation are two - of instances where God told the writers what to write. On the other hand, the scribe who copied down the genealogies in Chronicles probably had no idea he was writing Scripture, but God directed what he wrote, too.