"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" (II Tim. 3:1).
In Paul's epistle to Timothy he describes in great detail what would characterize the last days before the return of Jesus Christ. There are several unmistakable indications that the time period we are now living in could properly be called the last of the last days. There are many signposts that point us directly to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are nearing the end of the present age and it won't be long until Jesus comes back in the air for His saints in the Rapture. For the saint of God the last days should be a time of great rejoicing as we anticipate the Rapture, but is also a time of great sorrow as we witness the increase of immorality and apostasy, conditions which are associated with the last days.
Almost two thousand years ago the writers of the New Testament declared that they were already in the last days. The New Testament frequently describes the time frame between the first and second Advents of Jesus Christ as the last days, meaning that it is the closing period of this age. At this late hour we are living in the last of the last days and have every reason to expect the imminent return of Jesus Christ. As we examine the conditions that describe the last days we ought to be following the admonition of Jesus Christ in Luke 21:28 which states: "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."
Many people falsely assume that the last days consist only of a brief time period just before the coming of the Lord in the Rapture. However when one looks up all the references to the "last days", "the latter days", and "the time of the end" in the Holy Scriptures he will find that this time period began with the first Advent of Jesus Christ and will culminate in the second Advent of Jesus Christ. In fact many of the signs given by Jesus Christ that relate to His second coming have reference to the seven- year tribulation period which begins right after the Rapture of the saints and ends with the second Advent of Christ to the earth to set up His kingdom. I agree with A.W. Pink who wrote:
"All the 'Signs' recorded in the Word of God have to do with His return to the earth. But as there will be only a comparatively short interval between the two stages in the second coming of Christ, the Signs which proclaim the one announce the other. If the fulfillment of certain inspired predictions declare that the return of Christ to the earth is near at hand, then His descent to the air is so much nearer still. If we know that the end of the Age itself is now almost reached, then it is doubly certain that the Rapture of the saints may occur at any hour." (1)
There are several passages of Scripture that tell us precisely when the last days began. They began with the first Advent of Jesus Christ to the earth. Hebrews 1:1-2 declares: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these LAST DAYS spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." Thus the writer of Hebrews considered himself to be in the last days. The last times are associated with the manifestation and incarnation of the Lamb of God who was foreordained to be a sacrifice for the sins of His people in I Peter 1:20 which states: "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these LAST TIMES for you." John the beloved considered the days in which he lived as the last time in I John 2:18 which states: "Little children, it is the LAST TIME; and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." Though the Antichrist has not yet come on the scene we have witnessed several forerunners of Antichrist over the past two thousand years who have had the foul spirit and motives of the Antichrist. Technically the last days have spanned almost two thousand years.
There are several other events that will occur in the time frame known as the "last days." The Gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached around the world, first by the Lord's New Testament churches before the Tribulation Period, and then by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists during the Tribulation Period. Matthew 24:14 declares: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; AND THEN SHALL THE END COME." The end referred to in this passage is the end of the present age which will culminate in the Second Advent of Christ when He comes back to the earth with His saints to usher in a new age of righteousness and peace of one thousand years.
The seven-year Tribulation Period, known as the time of Jacob's trouble, which begins right after the Rapture of the saints, is also included in the time frame of the "last days." Jeremiah 30:7; 23-24 state: "Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it...Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: IN THE LATTER DAYS ye shall consider it."
The restoration of Israel is also included in the time frame known as the "last days." Hosea 3:5 declares: "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in THE LATTER DAYS."
Finally, the last days will culminate with the establishment of a Theocratic Kingdom upon the earth when Jesus Christ shall reign with His saints for a thousand years. Micah 4:1-3 describes this blessed period of time: "But in the LAST DAYS it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Since we have established the Scriptural time frame for the period known as the last days, we will now proceed to examine the conditions that will prevail in the last days that point us to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we examine the many signs of the coming of the Lord we should remember that the Rapture is imminent and could occur at any time. May God grant us grace to "discern the signs of the times" (Matt. 16:3) as we view the conditions of the present age and anticipate the coming of our Lord.
"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Dan. 12:4).
The angel informed Daniel of two primary signs that will be evident at the time of the end. They are as follows:
1. "Many shall run to and fro" meaning that the ability to travel great distances with ease will characterize the last days. When this prophecy was written it was difficult for man to cover great distances. Walking, horseback, camels, and mules were the fastest ways to get from one place to another. For almost eighteen hundred years the ability to travel great distances in a relatively short period of time was virtually unknown. However, since the invention of the steamship, the locomotive, the automobile, the airplane, and the space shuttle man has been able to travel great distances with ease. Sir Isaac Newton, the great scientist of the early 1700's, commented on this verse by predicting man would one day be able to travel fifty miles per hour. Voltaire, the reprobate philosopher, a century later, said that Newton had allowed the Bible to make him a deluded fanatic for predicting such nonsense. Yet man can now get from one place to another by traveling several hundred miles per hour. A trip that would once take weeks or months can now be easily accomplished in a few hours. All one has to do is go to any major airport to find many running to and fro with great ease!
2. The angel also informed Daniel that "knowledge shall be increased." Over the past one hundred years the increase of educational, scientific, and technological knowledge has been phenomenal. Fifty years ago who would have ever dreamed that vast amounts of vital information could be stored on a small micro chip! Technology is advancing at such a rapid rate inventions and computers become obsolete in a very short period of time. Not only has knowledge increased, but the ability to transmit information has also been phenomenal. Computers, faxes, and satellites now transfer up to the minute information with ease.
Another aspect concerning the increase of knowledge is the ability of the governments of our world to store vast amounts of information about each of its citizens. Vital information can be called up from computer memory on any given individual in the United States in a matter of minutes. There has been a push for a cashless society in the world economy for several years. Technology has already been developed where biochips can be placed in the skin of the hand of an individual enabling them to transact their business without cash. It is interesting that the mark of the beast will be necessary to buy or sell during the Tribulation Period. I am sure that this type of technology will be employed by the Antichrist and the one world government. Some twenty five hundred years ago God told Daniel that there would be phenomenal advances in travel and knowledge. We are seeing these things occurring before our very eyes!
"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matt. 24:3).
Many of the signs Jesus speaks about in Matthew twenty four will have a complete fulfillment during the seven-year Tribulation period and will culminate in His second Advent to the earth. However, many of the initial aspects of these signs have been partially fulfilled in our day.
1. Jesus foretold of distress among the nations in Matthew 24:6-7 which state: "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom..." Many of those critical of premillennialism will say that there have always been wars and rumors of wars. That is true, but everyone must admit that violence and warfare have seen a significant worldwide increase over the past seventy years or so. World War One was the first war to involve several nations fighting against one another and it was only a harbinger of the brutal wars that would follow. World War Two was international in scope involving several nations with multitudes of casualties. The Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Israeli-Arab Conflict, the war in Bosnia, gang warfare in the streets of America, and countless other wars and revolutions have taken place since World War One. Never in human history has there ever been a period of such worldwide fierceness, violence, and bloodshed as there has been over the last seventy five years. These wars are only skirmishes compared to the violence and warfare that will occur during the last half of the Tribulation, culminating in the Battle of Armageddon. In our present day, war could break out at any time and in any place. Certainly this sign is being at least partially fulfilled before our very eyes.
2. Matthew 24:7 declares: "...and there shall be famines, and pestilence's, and earthquakes in divers places." Presently two billion of the world's population are going to bed hungry every night. Thousands are dying from starvation and malnutrition around the world. Within the last fifteen years we have witnessed two of the worst famines in recorded history in Ethiopia and Somalia. Along with terrible famine comes pestilence and disease. Those who are not killed by starvation usually die because of pestilence that is directly associated with their unsanitary living conditions. Even in countries where there is plenty of food pestilence and disease are stalking the population. The disease of cancer has claimed millions of lives in this century alone. Diseases associated with sexual immorality are more rampant today than ever before. The deadly and incurable plague of AIDS is spreading world wide. Even though our modern world is highly sophisticated and more technologically advanced than ever before, famines and incurable diseases are wreaking havoc on the world population.
Jesus also warned that there would be earthquakes in various places. Never before in human history has there ever been as many earthquakes in various places in such a short span of time. Prior to 1960 there were only twenty four major earthquakes recorded from 34 A.D. until 1959. Since 1960 there have been over forty major earthquakes. Stop and think how many major earthquakes have happened within the last twenty years. Just within the last decade Mexico, China, India, Russia, Japan, and California have been hit with major earthquakes. Earthquakes are happening all over the world like never before. Every time that I hear of another devastating earthquake I remember the words of the Lord and look for His soon return.
3. Matthew 24:12 declares: "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Think how prevalent sin, iniquity, and open violation of God's laws have become over the past thirty years. Several million unborn babies have been legally slaughtered in America alone in the last twenty years, because the love of many has waxed cold. Immorality, infidelity, illegitimacy, teenage pregnancy, and pornography run rampant because the love of many has waxed cold. We have witnessed the breakdown of the family because of the moral disintegration of our society. Murder, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse are prevalent in our society because the love of many has waxed cold. What is even worse is the coldness that exists among professing Christians. Some churches should be renamed "First Church of the Deep Freeze", Jack Frost, Pastor because of the coldness that exists!
4. Matthew 24:24 declares: "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect." More new religions and religious leaders claiming to have the corner market on truth and the answer to all of life's problems have arisen over the past one hundred years than in all of recorded human history. These false Christs and prophets are preparing the way for the reception of the Antichrist. The present day Charismatic Movement, that is popular among the masses of professing Christendom, boasts of great miracles, signs, and wonders. The false prophets who are promoting the Charismatic Movement are preparing the way for the Man of Sin. The religious masses who are being deceived today by the false religious peddlers will gladly receive the message of the Antichrist when he arrives on the scene. II Thessalonians 2:9-10 declares: "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
5. Matthew 24:32-33 declares: "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." The fig tree represents the nation of Israel. When the branch is yet tender and brings forth some leaves then know that the time of the Lord's coming is at hand. The picture is that of an immature fig tree that has not yet brought forth any fruit. In 1948 Israel officially became a nation. Israel has yet to bring forth fruit unto God because she has not yet been converted. However the fact that she is presently occupying the land promised by God in the Abrahamic Covenant should startle the world into anticipation of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
6. Matthew 24:37-39 declares: "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark. And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." If you study the characteristics of the days of Noah prior to the flood you will find that they are very comparable to our present day. Every form of wickedness imaginable was rampant among the masses according to Genesis 6:5; 11-12 which states: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually...The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." Noah's day was characterized by sexual immorality, divorce and remarriage, gluttony, and drunkenness. Broken homes, immorality, sexual perversion, and alcohol abuse were the rage of Noah's day. It was hard to find men and women with any virtue or goodness. It doesn't take much imagination to see that our present world is overrun with the very same conditions that existed during Noah's day. It is estimated that one out of every two marriages ends in divorce today. By the year 2000 experts predict that seventy-five percent of all children will be raised in a broken home. Moral corruption and violence covered the earth in Noah's day. In our day violent crime runs rampant in the streets of every major city in America, like never before. The terrible wickedness of Noah's day prompted the Lord to send a world wide flood that destroyed the inhabitants of the earth. The terrible wickedness of our day is going to prompt the Lord to send wrath and judgment upon the inhabitants of the earth in a time period known as the seven-year Tribulation. Believers ought to praise God because Enoch was translated to Heaven prior to the flood of Noah while he was yet alive. He escaped the judgment and wrath of God. Enoch is a type of all believers who will be caught up in the Rapture prior to the Tribulation Period when God shall pour out His wrath upon the inhabitants of the earth.
There are several other signs that Jesus gave in Mark thirteen and Luke twenty one, but the ones listed above will suffice for our present study. Our Lord gave us some clear signs of His coming which should prompt us to take heed to Mark 13:29 which states: "So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors." Jesus is coming soon, let us be watching, waiting, and eagerly anticipating that great day!
There are several passages of Scripture where Paul gives clear details of the conditions of the last days prior to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of these will no doubt overlap with some of what has already been written. The last days according to Paul can be summarized by a moral and doctrinal falling away from the truth as well as conditions described as perilous times.
II Thessalonians 2:1-3 states: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." The Man of Sin in this text is the Antichrist who will deceive the nations during the seven-year Tribulation period. He will not be revealed until the saints of God are caught up to Heaven in the Rapture. However, there will be an apostasy, or a falling away that will occur among the masses of professing Christendom prior to the revealing of Antichrist. This apostasy will prepare the way for the Antichrist to deceive the nations with his Satanic wiles.
Anyone who is casually acquainted with the precious truths of the Word of God knows there has been a serious doctrinal and practical apostasy from the truth over the last one hundred years. Higher criticism, theological liberalism, theistic evolution, Charismatic emotionalism, feminism, easy-believism, and Arminianism have all prepared the way for the Antichrist. We are living in an age of apostasy where the Lord's churches are backing off from the truth, compromising with error, and embracing sin. There has been a doctrinal departure from the grand old doctrines of the faith which was once delivered to the saints. This doctrinal departure has resulted in a moral falling away from consecration, devotion, and holiness as well. People no longer practice Christianity as they once did. Many profess to know Jesus as Saviour yet they live their lives in such a way that you can't distinguish them from the average worldling. There has been a falling away of the true worship of the Lord that should be marked by reverence and sincerity. Reverential worship has been replaced with emotionalism and Charismatic foolishness. There has been a falling away of true conversions marked by a changed life and a pursuit of holiness. Millions have been duped by easy-believism which has spawned countless numbers of religious false professors who live like the devil and bring reproach upon the name of Jesus Christ. Modern seminaries are cesspools of spiritual corruption. Pulpits are being filled by false prophets who refuse to preach the truth because they are afraid they will offend some one. Many present-day preachers fit the description given in II Peter 2:1-3 which states: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." If you ever watch the television evangelists you will find that most are more concerned about money than they are the souls of men. They make merchandise of God's people through their fake healing, false teachings, and dishonesty.
The apostasy has infiltrated the churches in such a way that the people sitting in the pew would rather hear fables than the truths of the Word of God. This was prophesied by Paul in II Timothy 4:3-4 which states: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." There are very few church members who can endure the truths of total depravity, unconditional election, particular redemption, effectual calling, perseverance and preservation of the saints, local church, separation from the world, and holy living. Instead they clamor after preachers who will make them feel good by raising their level of self-esteem and comfort. People would rather listen to a preacher who tells jokes and exciting stories. People have itching ears, they want to be entertained by professional pulpiteers rather than have the precious truths of the Word of God preached to them.
I agree with A.W. Pink concerning this time of apostasy:
"That time has arrived! Church-goers today will not endure 'sound doctrine.' Those who preach the total depravity of man, who insist upon the imperative necessity of the new birth, who set forth the inflexible righteousness and holiness of God, and who warn against the Eternal and conscious torment awaiting every rejecter of Christ, find it almost impossible to obtain a hearing. Such preachers are regarded as puritanical pessimists, and are not wanted. In these degenerate times, the masses demand that which will soothe them in their sins and amuse them while they journey down the Broad Road. The multitude is affected with 'itching ears' which crave novelty and that which is sensational. They have ears which wish to be 'tickled,' ears which eagerly drink in the songs of professional and unsaved soloists and choristers, ears which are well pleased with the vulgar slang of our modern evangelists." (2)
I Timothy 4:1-4 gives another description of the moral and doctrinal departure that will be evident in the last days: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."
There has been an obvious departure from the faith once delivered to the saints in our present day. Hypocrisy is on the rise. People's consciences have been so seared by sin they no longer know or care about the difference between good and evil, holiness and sin, or light from darkness. Many are seduced by unholy spirits and devilish doctrines. The cults are preaching Gnosticism. Mainline denominations are preaching the heresies of Pelagius and James Arminius who taught that man is his own Savior. Many of the "United Churches" have succumbed to the devilish heresies of secular humanism which teaches that man is his own God. New Age mysticism, reincarnation, and the occult are becoming increasingly popular falsehoods that are believed by a great mass of religious people.
One of the doctrines of devils mentioned in I Timothy four is the doctrine of forbidding to marry. The Roman Catholic Church has long held to the false idea that her priests and nuns are to remain unmarried. This teaching has caused widespread sexual immorality and homosexuality among her clergy through the years. However, the "forbidding to marry" is only confined to the clergy in the Roman Catholic Church. We are seeing this devilish doctrine of "forbidding to marry" become much more widespread in our day. The devilish teachings of Feminism have all but destroyed the sacred union of holy matrimony. The reprobate lifestyles of homosexuals and lesbians are in direct opposition to the institution of marriage described in the Bible. There has been an increasing number of people who substitute marriage with living in sin. These are all present day outgrowths of the doctrine of "forbidding to marry."
The prohibition of meat eating prophesied in our text is also a doctrine that has been on the rise in recent years. The New Age religions, Islam, and many others have some sort of prohibition of meats in their religious systems. It is clear to see that the doctrinal and moral departures described in the above passages of Scripture are a reality in our present day. These characteristics may have been seen in years gone by, but not with the intensity of our present day. Surely we are living in the last of the last days if Scripture means anything.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away...But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Tim. 3:1-5 & 13).
It is interesting that the same Greek word for perilous (chalepos) is translated "exceeding fierce" to describe the demoniac of Gadera in Matthew 8:28. The idea expressed is that the last days will be hard to bear, marked by fierceness, and demonic immorality. This passage describes in detail the self-centered humanistic behavior that will characterize the last days. Professing Christendom will not only capitulate to humanistic doctrine, but also to an immoral, pagan lifestyle. There are no less than twenty phrases used to describe the perilous times of the last days in this passage of Scripture.
1. "Men shall be lovers of their own selves." In recent years we have seen the promotion of a me-first attitude among professing Christians. The doctrines of self-help, self-image and self-esteem are becoming more and more popular. Our present age is characterized by a general attitude of selfishness among the masses.
2. "Covetous." Accumulating material goods and money has become one of the most important things to people in our day, even among professing Christians. The "prosperity gospel" is becoming more and more popular. People want to have it all. As a consequence of idolatrous covetousness many are in debt like never before. Both parents normally work and spend little time in raising their children in order to accumulate more material goods. A spirit of covetousness abounds in our present world.
3. "Boasters." Men are bragging and boasting about their own accomplishments like never before. Sinful man is taking credit for advances in technology, health care, and science. Those who accumulate wealth pat themselves on the back and tell others how they have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps. The elite of society boast of superior intellectual prowess. Preachers are boasting of churches and kingdoms they have built through various ingenious methods. Yet few refrain from their boasting long enough to give God the glory that is due His name.
4. "Proud." This Satanic attitude is prevalent in most people today. More emphasis is placed upon the accomplishments of men than ever before. Even though God condemns the attitude of pride, secular humanism teaches man to be proud of himself, his accomplishments, his wealth, his skin color, his immorality, and his social standing.
5. "Blasphemers." There is a new openness about sin in our society and even in professing Christianity. There is little shame associated with immorality. Men blaspheme God and His Word with little thought. People use God's name in vain quite frequently with little guilt or remorse. Blasphemy is common fare in music and television.
6. "Disobedient to parents." We are living in an age where many young people are openly rebellious and have little or no respect for authority. Many children have been raised with little or no Biblical discipline so they behave like disobedient brats. Children who argue, back talk, and fuss with their parents are common in our present day. In many homes the children rule the parents rather than the parents ruling the children. Many teenagers pay little attention to the instruction and advice of parents, but rather choose to fit in with their peers. Drug abuse, sexual immorality, addiction to Satanic Rock and Roll music, and vandalism are all prevalent in our modern world because children have become increasingly disobedient
7. "Unthankful." I would estimate that an overwhelming majority of people in America never bow their head and give thanks to God for the blessings of food, clothing, and shelter. Even professing Christians rarely show their gratitude to God by being good stewards of their time, money, and possessions.
8. "Unholy." Most people, even professing Christians, openly ridicule a life of separation from the world and holy living. Most Christians in our day resemble the world in their speech, appearance, and behavior. Godlessness and worldliness abounds like never before. Few churches are pure, and few preachers ever speak on the necessity of holiness. Many churches allow their members to live in sin, abuse alcohol, and commit adultery without any correction.
9. "Without natural affection." Homosexuality and lesbianism are portrayed as acceptable and normal lifestyles in our perverted age. Abortion is legal. Child abuse and molestation is on the increase like never before. Parents are murdering their children and children are murdering their parents. Things that are being done today would have been unheard of only forty years ago. These are all evidences of the absence of natural affection.
10. "Trucebreakers." A man's word can no longer be believed in our present age. Contracts, marriage vows, promises, and treaties are constantly being broken with little or no remorse or shame. In days gone by a man's word meant something, but not in our day.
11. "False accusers." Defamation of character, slander, and malicious gossip are all common in our day. People are buying the tabloids to read the most up to date gossip. People will openly lie about others to further their own interests.
12. "Incontinent." The Greek word for "incontinent" is akrates which means powerless, impotent in a moral sense, unrestrained, and without self control. If there was ever a day when immorality was unrestrained it is our day. People no longer possess self control. Rather they are controlled by their fleshly passions and lustful desires. That is why divorce, premarital sex, and marital infidelity are on the rise like never before. Another aspect of incontinence is the widespread abuse of drugs and alcohol.
13. "Fierce." The word carries with it the idea of physical brutality and violence. Our society is saturated with crime and violence like never before. News reports are filled with brutal murders of innocent people. Random acts of senseless violence are rampant in our sin plagued society.
14. "Despisers of those that are good." Those with any moral values are continually blasted by the liberal media. Christians with any moral convictions are generally mocked and jeered and portrayed as "right-wing, fundamentalist fanatics.” Sin has become so popular in our society that people generally despise anyone who stands for righteousness.
15. "Traitors." Betrayal in many forms is common in our present-day world. Those who we elect to office often betray the trust we put in them by espousing and promoting liberal ideologies once they are in office. Loyalty, patriotism, and friendship are almost looked upon as relics of a bygone age in our traitorous society.
16. "Heady." The idea expressed here is a growing carelessness with reference to the rights and feelings of others. People do whatever they please without thinking of the impact and influence it will have on others. There is little or no regard for the feelings of others.
17. "Highminded." People today are characterized as being puffed-up, conceited, and vain. There is very little humility prevailing in our society today. People think more highly of themselves than they ought to think. Whether it be in the social, educational, religious, or political arena people are increasingly becoming more vain and conceited. There is more self-promotion and self-exaltation of individuals in our day than ever before.
18. "Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." On any given Sunday you will find professing Christians who forsake the house of God and public worship for personal pleasure. Ballgames take precedence over the worship of God. Television has replaced personal devotion. Relaxation (laziness) has replaced attendance on prayer meeting night. There is little or no spirit of self-denial or desire to serve God in professing Christendom. People have allowed entertainment and pleasure to have preeminence in their lives.
19. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." It is interesting that people today still profess to be religious and believe in God when so very few actually practice the principles of genuine Christianity. People profess to know God but deny Him by the way in which they live their lives. People will come to church dressed in their Sunday best, put on a smile and tuck their Bible under their arm, sing the hymns, and agree with what the preacher says, but then live the rest of the week like a heathen devil. There is little or no spiritual power among professing Christians. I am afraid that much of religion has devolved into mere form and ritual without the power of the Holy Spirit.
20. "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." In the last days things are not getting better. Evil men and wicked behavior are on the rise. The morality of men is getting worse. Seduction and deceit abound in our world today. Immorality and uncleanness are running through our streets like an overwhelming flood.
The picture of the last days painted by Paul is bleak indeed. Anyone who honestly looks at the moral condition of professing Christendom and the world at large must agree that we are living in the last days in light of Paul's graphic description.
"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (James 5:1-8).
James gives a graphic picture of the conflict between capital and labor, the rich and the poor. This conflict has always raged among the masses but it intensifies in the last days. Most of the wealth of the world is held by relatively few. Those who hold the wealth not only live luxurious and wanton lifestyles, they oppress the working class. Those with wealth have become increasingly more bloodthirsty and cruel in their oppression of the common worker. Fraud, deceit, and dishonesty are common practices among the wealthy in order to accumulate more. Employers know they can pay low wages because it is so difficult for workers to find decent jobs. In spite of the deplorable conditions described by James, believers are exhorted to stablish their hearts because the coming of the Lord is drawing near.
THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO PETER AND JUDE
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (II Pet. 3:3-4).
"How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit" (Jude 18-19).
The last days will be filled with mockers and scoffers who don't take the warnings and threatenings of the Word of God seriously. There has been a remarkable increase in people who scoff at the promises and prophecies contained in the Bible. Much of our society is bent on ridiculing those who take the Bible literally and seek to apply its principles in their daily lives. The doctrines of secular humanism have so infiltrated and poisoned our society that there is a growing hostility and hatred for genuine Christianity. There is a growing intolerance for those who believe the Bible and live by it.
The educational elite mock the truths of creationism while promoting their own false theories of evolution. Higher critics mock the faith of those who declare that the Bible is the authoritative, infallible, Divinely inspired Word of God. Many regard the prophecies and judgments of the Bible as idle threats. Secular humanists mock and scoff at those who are committed to the moral principles set forth in the Holy Book. All these groups walk after their own lusts, choosing to live in sin, rather than submitting to the claims of Christianity. They have not the Spirit, so they walk in the light of their own carnal reasonings and ridicule those who stand for God's precious truth.
I have tried to briefly cover a majority of the references in the Holy Scripture that deal directly with the last days. Social, political, educational, and religious conditions are bleak. Immorality is on the rise and righteousness has seen a steady decline. Moral conditions are growing worse and worse. Because conditions are so corrupt are true Christians just to give up and go with the flow of immorality? Do we just assume that our world is so far gone that we can no longer make any difference? No! John 9:4 declares: "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work." Like never before there should be an attitude of urgency in our service to the Lord. The Lord is coming back soon. The Rapture is imminent. Therefore we ought to do everything within our power to spread the message of the Gospel and lift up a standard of righteousness and light as we anticipate the coming of the Lord. Jesus said in Luke 19:13: "Occupy till I come." May God grant us the grace and holy boldness to defend the precious truths of the Word of God and tirelessly spread them until Jesus comes! Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. We will soon stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and give account for the deeds done in our bodies. May we be found faithfully obeying the admonition of Philippians 2:14-16 until Jesus comes: "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life..."