The church is in constant danger of finding itself in the same fix as the proverbial frog, which when thrown into a pot of tepid water felt comfortable and failed to notice a gradual increase in heat until it was too late, and it was cooked. We are cautioned to “watch,” to be “sober,” and to be “vigilant.” For enemies of the truth are both insidious and vicious. Virtually everywhere we turn, enemies of the truth and of righteousness are steadily at work undermining true faith and vigorously attacking righteousness. To stave off complacency toward this progression, the Word of God gives warnings of grave perils that confront the church “in the last days.” Following is another in the list of perils about which the Lord would make us wary.
“Men shall be . . . despisers of those that are good” (II Tim. 3:3). A consultation of lexicons, translations, and commentaries yields almost universal agreement that the words in this clause should be translated as “not lovers of good,” “hostile to virtue,” “haters of good,” etc. In other words, the Greek does not include a personal pronoun: the emphasis is upon the fact that the principle of good is under attack, not those who practice it. Of course, it is impossible to attack the principle without also attacking its practitioners, but the focus this statement provides is critical both to a proper attitude about and defense against those who despise the good.
In the former case, it is a reminder that, although the hatred may appear to be personal, those who hate good actually have God in their crosshairs, not men. They may be forced to attack men because they cannot reach God, but their hatred ultimately is directed against Him and His righteousness. As to the latter case, a Christian’s defense should not center on protecting himself but on standing for the authority of God’s Word, the honor of God’s Person, and the justice of His work and His ways. Any other approach will devolve into sniping on the human level.
The evidence that such peril exists around us today would fill an encyclopedia. But just a few of the most blatant examples will suffice to make the point. The Bible declares (Ex. 20:13) murder to be a sin: America has legalized the murder by abortion of the most innocent and defenseless of its citizens. And at the other end of the age spectrum, groups like the Hemlock Society and Death With Dignity lobby for legalization of suicide. The Bible declares (Gen. 9:7) that a murderer should pay for his crime with the forfeiture of his life: many states have abolished capital punishment. The Bible declares (Rom. 1:24-28) the practice of homosexuality to be a kind of culminating of sin: many state and national laws protect and even encourage the practice. The Bible declares (Gen. 1) that God created heaven and earth in six days; many states ban the teaching of creation and promote the teaching of evolution. The Bible declares (II Chron. 7:14) that a form of national prayer (i.e., by genuine believers within the nation) will bring deliverance from God. The nation has banned public prayer in the schools. Added to these are the outcries against evangelizing or so-called proselytizing and the frequent vilification of fundamentalist and even evangelical Christians.
The situation is clear. Though the United States never was a “Christian nation,” (individuals, not nations become Christians), many of its founders professed faith and incorporated biblical principles in its Constitution and laws. And, historically, the nation has looked favorably upon Christians and the biblical principles they believed and practiced. Not so today. These are truly times of peril for those who would be faithful to the Word of God.
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