Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Apostasy In The Last Days

2 Timothy 3:2-5

Verse 2
Lovers of their own selves: lovers of themselves – self-love

Covetous: lovers of money – greedy for money
Boasters: boastful – braggers, swaggering, puffed-up
Proud: proud – arrogant, haughty, conceited
Blasphemers: abusive – revilers, rude, savage, offensive
Disobedient to parents: disobedient to their parents – hellions
Unthankful: ungrateful – thankless, unappreciative
Unholy: unholy – unnatural, ungodly, blasphemous, nothing sacred

Verse 3
Without natural affection: without love – unloving
Trucebreakers: unforgiving – irreconcilable, implacable, truce breakers
False accusers: slanderous – malicious gossips, false & malicious statements
Incontinent: without self-control – no self-control
Fierce: brutal – savage, cruel, vicious, barbaric
Despisers of those that are good: not lovers of the good – loving evil, no interest in good

Verse 4
Traitors: treacherous – dangerous, hazardous, betrayer
Heady: rash – reckless, impulsive, hasty
High-minded: conceited – vain, narcissistic, self-centered, puffed up with pride
Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God: lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – loves pleasure over God

Verse 5
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it: having a form of godliness but denying its power – acts religious, but rejects God

Mark 7:21-22

Verse 21
Evil thoughts – questioning truth
Adulteries – any sexual act with someone other than one’s own spouse
Fornications – any sexual act outside Biblical marriage between a man and woman
Murders – slaughter

Verse 22
Thefts – taking from others that which is not yours
Covetousness – greediness, desire for more
Wickedness – depravity, malice, evil purposes & desires
Deceit – craft, guile
Lasciviousness – lecherous, lewd, lustful, dirty, smutty, naughty, indecent, unbridled lust
An evil eye – envious, covetous, pride
Blasphemy – slander, evil speaking, railing
Pride – haughtiness, arrogance
Foolishness – folly, senselessness, thoughtlessness, recklessness

In 2 Timothy (see above) the Apostle Paul is giving a warning of the last days. He says in verse one that these days will be terrible times. Then he proceeds to give us a vivid description of evil hearts in the last days.

In the book of Mark (see above) Jesus tells us that it isn’t what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes from the heart. He then gives a vivid description of the results of evil hearts.

Notice that these two passages are very similar. Jesus showed the results of an evil heart. Paul points out basically the same, and says that the last days will be terrible due to the evil actions of evil hearts.

While thinking about this, I was thinking that we have always had these types of evil people among us. You’re probably thinking the same. We could pick any of the traits above from Mark and 2 Timothy and probably think of someone or some event that is apropos to the above.

In our Mark passage, Jesus was being questioned by (you guessed it) the Pharisees and some of the teachers of the Law. They weren’t happy that Jesus’ disciples were eating without washing their hands. Now granted, we all wash our hands before we eat (I hope), but this isn’t solely about germs. It’s about observing the Law. In our language, it’s about observing all the rules our congregation or denomination dictates. In other words, this is the self-righteous crowd, the hypocrites, pointing out the sins of others. (See Mark 7:5)

Jesus brings to their attention a little practice called “Corban.” Listen to what Jesus says,

“…You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” (Mark 7:9-15 NIV)

Now why do you suppose these Pharisees and teachers of the Law would use this little scheme of “Corban” to divert money to the temple treasury that the people should have been using to support their elderly parents? The answer is obvious if you think about it. They were diverting money to the temple treasury in order to line their own pockets. They may have been fooling everyone else with their self-righteous decrees, but Jesus could see their hearts … and they weren’t pretty. Also notice that Jesus said, “And you do many things like that.”

And this takes us back to Mark 7:21-22. Now go back to these verses and see what Jesus saw in their hearts that the populace could not see. Look at the descriptions again. I’m sure they fit quite well, and boy were these guys squirming.

Now let’s return to what Paul told Timothy about people in the last days. Again, this list (see the list above) is strikingly close to Jesus’ list in Mark. Yes, there have always been these types of people in the world. However, in my opinion, I believe these types of people are more pronounced today worldwide than ever before in the church age. Maybe they were more obvious in certain areas or groups in years past, but today, these types encompass the world.

Another thing to consider is that Jesus and Paul were referring more so to those who claim to be religious. They weren’t speaking necessarily of the world as a whole, but specifically to those with apostate hearts; i.e. those who appeared to be religious, or even “Christian.” Jesus was referring to Pharisees and teachers of the Law, the religious crowd. Paul was referring to false teachers (see 2 Timothy 2:14-26), the religious crowd. All of these are religious apostates.

An apostate is “one with full knowledge of the truth of the Gospel, perhaps even professing a belief in the Gospel at one time, but ultimately turns against it and rejects it.” The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were being religious, but actually renouncing the heart of the Law of Moses. Obviously, the false teachers were renouncing anything and everything Paul was teaching the churches.

When Jesus was talking to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law in Mark, it would have been in the last days of the Jewish age of 490 years they were allotted by God (see Daniel 9:24-27). Think about it. The Church age would start at Pentecost in just a few months. Then there are only seven years remaining to fulfill the 490 years allotted by God. This will be accomplished during the seven year Tribulation. If you mentally remove the Church age, which is parenthetical, they were in the last days. During those last days they had become corrupt, and will more so until their eyes are opened during the Tribulation.

The Church, based on the prophetic signs in Scripture, is also in her last days. Now I want to be very clear about our being in the “last days” for the Church. I do not know how close we are to the Rapture, which precedes the Tribulation. Only God knows that date. It could be today, tomorrow, several years off. I don’t know. All I can say is, based on God’s Word; we are certainly within the season of His return.

In summation, my point to make for these two Scripture passages, Mark and 2 Timothy, is that these types of people come from those who claim to be religious. They claim to be Christian, but they reject the Truth, claim the lie and are what we see listed in Mark 7:21-22 and 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

Our churches today are overflowing with these types of people. They talk like a Christian, walk like a Christian, act like a Christian, dress like a Christian, etc., but their heart is elsewhere. These people claim Christ but serve Satan. They are no more a child of God than the Pharisees and teachers of the Law who confronted Jesus and wanted Him dead.

The people of Israel, specifically the leaders, were basically apostate. They had drifted far away from God’s Law. Jesus hit the “pause” button with Israel and will finish His work with them during their last seven years; i.e. the Tribulation.

The Laodicean church is alive and well in our day. It is obviously apostate to the core, all the way up to its so-called leaders. Perhaps sooner than we realize Jesus is going to hit the “start” button by removing His true Church, then finish His dealing with Israel and the world at large.

Grant Phillips
Pre-Rapture Commentary: