The Bible is a very popular book. It has continuously been on the best-seller list. According to statistics from Wycliffe International, Gideon’s International, and the International Bible Society, the number of new Bibles that are sold, given away, or otherwise distributed in the United States alone is about 168,000 per day. Additionally, according to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time, with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed. Yet, it is highly controversial for some. Some question its authenticity. However, one of the attributes of Scripture that proves its authenticity is prophesy. Approximately sixty percent of Biblical prophecy is already fulfilled. The featured prophecy in this article is: The Coming Apostasy.
What is Apostasy?
According to Nelson’s Bible dictionary, apostasy is a falling away from the faith. Apostasy is defined generally as the determined, willful rejection of Christ and His teachings by a Christian believer (Heb 10:26-29; John 15:22). This issue is different from false belief, or error, which is the result of ignorance.
The Coming of Apostasy
The Bible contains a prophecy of the impending apostasy in several passages. The most major of these is in 2 Tim 3:1-9 reads:
3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth — men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. NIV
This passage is from an instructional letter from the apostle Paul to a young pastor named Timothy. In the previous chapter, Paul is encouraging Timothy to carry out his duties because it would be even more difficult in subsequent days because of the impending apostasy.
In verse 1, we see the mention of “terrible times.” These words describe the arrival of difficult, troublesome, trying, uneasy, hard, violent, threatening, and dangerous days.
Question: do any of these words not apply today? If not, which ones?
Perhaps before COVID19, some may have been able to pick out a few. Still, with the arrival of the pandemic, It’s hard to imagine anyone not observing the above adjectives to explain our current state of existence.
The Scripture further mentions, “in the last days.” Last days is a term the Bible uses that points to a period that began with the ascension of Christ and continues to the end of the present age. It continues up to the days right before the return of Christ and the end of the world as we know it. It is important to note that these terrible times will intensify in the last days (cf.Matt. 24 1-25, 46). The closer to Christ’s arrival, the greater the intensity.
In verses 2-4, we see godlessness. The first mark of the last days will be a godless world. The world will be dangerous because it will be godless. As you read through, take note of how the terrible marks of the last days seem very much like a picture of today.
For starters, people “will be lovers of themselves.”
Understand that this does not refer to the standard and natural love of life and of oneself that we all should typically have. Rather it refers to selfishness and self-centeredness.
It is an inconsiderate love. This love tends to focus upon oneself and one’s pleasure and flesh instead of upon God and other people. This behavior extends to wives, husbands, parents, children, friends, and neighbors.
This love leads one to seek their desires without considering others, even if it is unwise to do so.
This love leads one to feel that everyone and everything revolve around them and to focus strictly on their pleasure and ignore the needs of even the desperate and dying.
Last but certainly not least, it leads one to put their own will before the will of God.
Self-love sets an individual up like a god and feels that nothing matters as much as the pleasure of oneself. In the last days, people will love themselves more than they love anyone else. Selfishness is one of the terrible marks of the last days.
We don’t have to look very far to witness this behavior because it is ubiquitous. It begins at the top with governments. Governments all over the world are failing to serve the citizens because the participants are more concerned with their own self-interests and political agendas.
The worldwide civil unrest has increased as citizens remain divided over their rights and agendas, which are, in no small degree, ungodly. People are looting and shooting one another to satisfy their desires and interests.
But this is what happens when God is removed from the equation. We cannot govern ourselves. When left to our own devices, we only destroy ourselves (Rom. 1:21).
The Scripture mentions “lovers of money.” According to the Scripture,
people will love money, what it buys, and allows them to do, and they will covet more and more of it and the things it yields. Their eyes and hearts will become focused upon money instead of God. They will indulge and hoard instead of meeting the desperate needs of the poor and the lost of the world.
Bringing this to today, people now want more and more and bigger and bigger and better and better, and they will rarely be satisfied with what they have (cf. Eccl. 5:10). In the last days, people will focus more and more on material wealth than at any other time: money, real property, stocks and bonds, possessions, travel, and power.
With the arrival of COVID19, the ability to earn money has been hindered by many and has resulted in suicides. Suicide, in these cases, is the result of putting trust wholely in money and self but not in God. This behavior proves that without God, we become completely lost—we are in despair.
Money has become the new religion. It is the supreme motivation for everything we do these days. It is the reason we wake up in the morning and remains the focus until we rest at night. Some can’t sleep for thinking about money. We beg, rob, and steal for it, and without it, we are merely hopeless.
People will be “boastful.” These are people who brag and boast in what they have. They also pretend to have what they do not have or to do what they haven’t done.
Bragging can involve anything from a job to an achievement, anything to impress others. It is an individual who feels the need to push themself above others even if it involves pretension, deception, and lies.
Today the world is full of boasters and braggarts.
The Scripture says that people will be “proud.” This word involves self-exaltation, conceit, and arrogance. It means to lift one’s head above another; to hold disgust for another; to compare oneself with others. Pride can be concealed in the heart as well as displayed openly.
In other words, the proud person feels that he is better than others. Again, this is a feeling within the heart. A proud person may seem quiet and humble, but within their heart, they can secretly feel better than others. A proud person can even put themself above God (Dan. 4:30).
God opposes the proud (1 pet. 5:5). In fact, He hates it. [Prov. 8:8] Therefore, pride is a sin. Prov 21:4 reads,
“Haughty eyes and a proud heart,the lamp of the wicked, are sin!” NIV There is nowhere for a prideful person or nation to go but down.
Next, the Scripture says that people will be “abusive.”
The King James translation uses the word blaspheme, which translated from the Greek word that means to slander, insult, rail, reviles, reproach, and to curse. Blasphemy is to be against God, generally speaking, which it is. But it is also a transgression against men. Men can blaspheme other men. Just think of the cursing and insults thrown against God and men today. Practically everyone is cursing and insulting someone: fathers, mothers, teachers, children, professionals, actors, comedians, politicians, even some professing religionists feel the need to curse occasionally to be acceptable.
Profanity is so ingrained in society that some cannot express themselves without using it.
Why is there such an excessive amount of cursing today? Because there is a loss of respect for both self and others concerning both position and authority. People behave this way when they are disturbed within—when they sense dissatisfaction, disapproval, and unacceptance within their hearts. A disturbed and dissatisfied heart causes people to blaspheme God and man, including themselves.
Next, the Scripture says that people will be “disobedient to their parents,”
refusing to do what one’s parents request, rebelling against one’s parents, showing disrespect to parents, rejecting parental instruction; dishonoring parental example. This behavior is what goes on today.
If a child will not honor, respect, and obey his mother and father, then who will he respect? If a child will mistreat his parents—those who are the closest to him— those who love and care for him most, who then will he obey, who else will he mistreat? When this behavior becomes accepted as the norm, the home, society, and civilization will crumble.
Next on the indictment is “ungrateful.” In the last days, people will be unthankful without a sense of gratitude or appreciation for what they have received. There is no giving of thanks to God or man. Many individuals will feel that the world and society or business and government owe them the good things of life. They have little if any sense of debt to others and feel little obligation to the world and society.
They take and take and forget all about the thanksgiving—the debt and contribution—they owe to God and men. They will take everything for granted.
Bringing this to today, how many people do we know are genuinely grateful for what they have? We complain more about what we don’t have, rather than being grateful for what we do have.
Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving Day has merely become a day of gluttony and shopping for “Black Friday.” There is little to no consideration for the blessings from God and no appreciation for man through whom the blessings come. I have personally been criticized on Thanksgiving Day for praying too long, a whopping 1-2 minutes! If we can’t take time to give God special thanks on Thanksgiving Day, then when?
Next, people will be “unholy” and given over to the most base passions, being blind to modesty, decency, purity, and righteousness.
Unholy people are ones who are mastered by their passions, seek constant gratification of the flesh, seeks his pleasure in the abnormal, feel little to no shame, and are blind to decency.
So, think of the abnormal sex that is displayed and flaunted today. You don’t have to think very hard!
The people will be “without love.” Natural affection will go out of the window. Instead, there will be abnormal affection and love. People will become heartless, without human emotion or love, a lack of feeling for others, and exhibit abuse of normal affection and love. People will use each other for little more than pawns for their self-use, benefit, pleasure and purposes, excitement, and stimulation.
As confirmed in Scripture, we are to be affectionate towards one another. Eph 4:31-32 reads, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” NIV
But in the end time, individuals will be so absorbed with satisfying their flesh and pleasure that they will forget God, family, friends, and everything else. They will immerse themselves in doing their own thing and so self-centered that they will have little affection for anyone or anything else.
This pathetic condition will manifest in several ways:
⇒ There will be little affection for the normal and natural. People will turn to the abnormal and unnatural in relationships and behavior, pleasures, and sex.
⇒ Not very much affection for the home. The home will be little more than a place to change clothes and sleep.
⇒ There will be not much affection between husband and wife. A spouse will be very little more than a person to help pay the bills and to keep up a front for social acceptance. Men and women will become unfaithful and depraved.
⇒ There will be little to no affection for friends, country, and earth. Selfishness will be the law of the last days.
Are there any signs of these behaviors in action today?
There will be little regard for God and the church. God and church will be things to be squeezed in when they do not interfere with personal desires and pleasures, rest, and recreation. But this has been going on pre-pandemic.
So then, is it any wonder that God allowed a virus that even stopped worship in the church? Do you think perhaps He’s trying to tell us something?
To move on, we’ve examined the first mark of the last days, which is godlessness; we will now look at the second mark, which is a powerless religion.
Verse 5 address this state of affairs by stating, “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
In the last days, churches and temples and worship centers will be everywhere, (as they are today). Individuals will claim and profess “godliness,” but their worship will be only a “form” only an outward profession, only an appearance of godliness. They will not possess God; they will not have God or Christ in their hearts and lives. They may:
• profess Christ and God
• be baptized into the Christian faith
• be present at church worship services
• partake in the rituals and ceremonies
• deliver the creeds
• even sometimes talk about God
However, they will deny the very power of God. What is the power of God? It is the power to deliver men from the bondage of sin, death, and hell—all by way of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the power of the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ—the power to save people from perishing and to grant them eternal life.
These truths are precisely what Scripture states. But the Word of God and sound Biblical teaching will be denied. Paul also addressed this to Timothy in 2 Tim 4:3-5, which reads:
3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. NIV
Bringing this Scripture to today, individuals are professing Christianity but are completely ignoring sound Biblical doctrine. They simply don’t want to hear it.
The result is a powerless religion. It doesn’t save anybody; at best, it’s merely treading water, and you can only do so for so long, and then you go under.
This truth is a segue to the next point. In verses 6-9, we have the third mark of the last days, which is corrupt ministry.
In verse 6, we see that corrupt ministers lead gullible followers astray. The focus is on women because of the situation that was occurring in Ephesus. Some of the women in the Ephesian church were following the corrupt ministers. However, the fact of the matter is, all must be on guard against corrupt ministers.
The corrupt minister seeks people who are laden and burdened with sin and guilt, thus being easily swayed by all kinds of desires and lusts. Also, those individuals who are seeking truth and will attempt to learn from anybody who claims to have it can be trapped.
The problem, these individuals will never learn the truth because they are presented with “a form of godliness,” not true godliness. True godliness is godliness that is found in Christ alone and nowhere else.
Today we have a form of godliness; it is called popular Christianity. It professes God and Christ but denies the power. It is essentially Christianity without Christ. For more information on this movement, please read the article, Christianity Without Christ on this website.
Paul’s letter to Timothy containing this prophecy was written approximately 66-67 AD, and it is now unfolding before our very eyes and will continue to evolve and increase in implementation.
In the US, church attendance is waning, and ungodliness is on the rise. The less we depend on God, the more we look to government and look at what a mess the government is. Again—we cannot govern ourselves, and without God, we become fools (Rom 1:22).
This apostasy is infectious among Christians. Some Christian doctrines teach that apostasy is impossible for those individuals who have truly and genuinely accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. However, there is always a
choice before us and, Satan, our enemy, is continually trying to pull Christians away. Some have gone astray without realizing it, and more will follow.
But we must heed the warning contained in the Scriptures. 1 Peter 5:8-9 reads:
8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. NIV
The bottom line is, the coming apostasy …is here and growing! We must be on guard and stay strong.
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