“But understand this, 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.”
2 Timothy 3:1-5
If there is any text of Scripture that describes the zeitgeist of these latter days with impeccable clarity, it is 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Notice what the Apostle Paul says. “In the last days there will come times of difficulty.” What kind of difficulty? “People.” He could have left it there, simply saying that the difficulty would arise from humanity, knowing that Timothy, to whom he was writing, was well-versed in the Old Testament Scriptures and would have known of what sort unregenerate mankind is. But he does not stop there. He continues with a litany of sins and vices. Vice lists such as this are not uncommon in Paul’s writings. Notice the emphasis he places on love; these people will be lovers of the wrong things: lovers of themselves, lovers of money, lovers of pleasure. They will be given up to idolatry, loving anything and everything other than God and what is good. Lest we forget, the popular modern message of “love yourself” is not a biblical one. Rather, the Apostle Paul condemns that attitude as worldly and ungodly.
Listen to how Paul describes Timothy in contrast.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my 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. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters 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.
2 Timothy 3:10-17
Paul points Timothy to the Scriptures. He emphasizes that within them there is wisdom unto salvation, knowledge of truth for teaching, everything to equip the man (or woman) of God for every good work. Do not fall prey to the reigning spirit of the age; do not fall for the lies of self-love and greed and “free love” and so on. Hold fast to the Scriptures. Continue in their teachings. Live according to their wisdom.
“But Paul, why should the Scriptures have such authority?” They are God-breathed. The words written in the 66 books of the Old and New Testament are so intimately connected to the Creator that it is as if he placed a page in front of his mouth to catch the very breath that of necessity comes forth when one speaks. The Scriptures are his very words, and therefore they carry divine authority and weight. To ignore them would be to ignore the Creator who gave them. And that would be the height of folly.