Dr. Michael Youssef guiding you into the last days. No matter how hard these days may be, no matter how trying those times may become, no matter how challenging the situation is, God was, is, and always be on His throne.
God was and is and always will be for His people. God was, is, and always will be ready to give us victory in the midst of trouble. It seems quite evident the last days may be upon us. Welcome to Leading the Way with pastor and author of the new book, Never Give Up, Dr. Michael Youssef. He'll show you from the pages of 2 Timothy that the last days are not a time of defeat, but a time for God's people to stand up, to be victorious in the army of the living God. You are in for an encouraging reminder of that today on Leading the Way. Now, before Dr. Youssef begins, please remember to tell us that you listen on this station when you get in touch with us online at ltw.org or when you call us, 866-626-4356. Knowing how you connect helps Leading the Way to be good stewards of God's provision.
So join me now in listening to Leading the Way audio with Dr. Michael Youssef. Those of you who are following in this series of messages will remember how at the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3, we literally see the apostle Paul right before our eyes makes an extremely sharp turn. You can actually call it a U-turn, but it's a sharp turn from what he was saying to Timothy in the first two chapters and to what he's saying here in this third chapter. In the first two chapters to Timothy, who was pastoring the church in Ephesus as he's speaking to all of the future leaders of the church of Jesus Christ, and he's telling about what's going on right now at that moment in history, where they are, and to make this sharp turn and says, in the last days. And here he makes a prophetic word, a prophetic instruction about what will happen in those last days. In the scripture, generally speaking, the last days represented anytime from the first coming of Christ to his second coming. That was always called the last days. But 2,000 years into it, we certainly are much closer to the second coming than we have ever been before. And those characteristics that he describes here in 2 Timothy chapter 3 verses 1 to 9 have no doubt existed in the time of the apostle Paul in the first century. But here's the difference.
Here's the difference. We're going to see these dreadful days, these dreadful characteristics to be on the increase, to grow in intensity, to experience it almost on a daily basis. In fact, the best description and the best understanding of this comes from the lips of Jesus in Matthew chapter 24. The Lord Jesus Christ said, of course, there's always been earthquakes and there's always been wars and there's always been these environmental catastrophes, always. But the Lord Jesus Christ explained to us that in the last days, all of these things are going to increase in frequency. And Jesus said it's like a woman and a childbirth. As the labor pains intensify, as the labor pains become more frequent, you know that the baby is about to be born. Those are the words of Jesus.
And that means that baby birth, he's referring to his return, to his second coming. And what we're seeing today is that evil has been so intensified, far more deeply entrenched all across the globe, not just in America. What we are seeing today is that evil now being accepted and glorified.
What we're seeing today is more than any other time, it's not just small pockets of rebellion here and there, but what we are seeing now is that the whole world is in turmoil. And so in verse 1 of chapter 3, the apostle Paul as I said takes a sharp turn by the word but, it's a conjunction. But, and it indicates literally a change of direction from the current situation to what is coming toward the end of time. Paul said realize this or understand this or don't be surprised about this or this will come to pass for certain.
In other words, don't let that stuff melt your heart when you see it. In fact, there is a deeper meaning for the word that he uses here. It is used when somebody is surrounded by wild beasts or raging sea. It gives the idea of a fierce situation and certainly we're seeing a fierce situation right now. It gives the idea of a situation it's so hard to cope with and that is why I want to tell you at the outset, no matter how hard these days may be, no matter how trying those times may become, no matter how challenging the situation is, God was, is and always be on his throne. God was and is and always will be for his people.
God was, is and always will be ready to give us victory in the midst of trouble. In verses 2 to 9, Paul gives us a sketch. It's a portrait of these people who will trouble not only us but all the believers.
They will trouble the believers. I want to summarize them in three ways so to help you understand. First of all, he says about these people, he talks about their moral conduct, their moral conduct and secondly, he talks about their religious zeal. Oh yeah, they all have religious zeal and thirdly, he talks about their militant fanaticism. In three verses, short three verses, the apostle Paul gives us 19 characteristics, 19 expressions by which he describes the wickedness of the people who are responsible for causing us pain or causing us heartache.
The first and the last is almost like the two bookends. The first and the last summarize what's inside those 19 characteristics. First is the love of self is going to be so obvious, is going to be so prominent, is going to be so explosive and the last is that they're not lovers of God and everything is in between, 17 other characteristics. In fact, 4 out of the 19 descriptions uses the word love. Oh, but it is a misplaced love.
It's misplaced love. Then the other 15 descriptions of what is happening in our society today. We see it happening today. The breakdown of relationships between people.
Hear me right please. Those who love themselves so much become proud and arrogant and abusive. The next five descriptions are seen in many a home in the world outside of the believing people of God. Seeing children disobedience to their parents instead of respect to their parents as the Bible commands. Now, can I have a word with the young people?
Listen, a couple of minutes, that's all. The first thing you need to know that none of us parents including your parents are perfect. I did not have perfect parents and I was not a perfect parent. So you got that?
You need to get that right. Your parents are not perfect. Your parents, like me, are not always right. But they are your leaders under God. You do not have to agree with them. You don't have to agree with every decision they make. You don't have to analyze every decision they make and you do not have to contradict every statement they make. But God said, I didn't say it, God said obey your parents for that is right.
That's what he said. Period. He did not say they are always right.
No, no, no. But your obedience is always right. Unless you are in a situation of what we see on television or read in the papers with dreadful twisted parents who want their kids to do wrong things and sin, then you say God has to come first. It has to be obeyed first. God said, honor your father and mother and do it now.
Lest the time come and you regret it. Not only disobedience is going to be so prevalent toward the end of time but also ungratefulness. Ungratefulness.
My goodness gracious. They will be devoid of appreciation. The world owes me something. The government owes me something.
Oh my goodness, look at the politicians are running for office. I mean they think we owed everything. Paul said, the one thing that will help us realize that we're living in the last days is when you see children devoid of moral affection. I know that's not the case in Christian homes. Certainly the homes that I know in this church. Love, affection, gratitude, respect, often characterize the good and godly families that I know in this church. But what you need to know and what you need to do is to remind our children.
That is not always the case in other homes. And while they come across situations in school and sports where the things are very different, they need to help them. They need to share the lot of Christ with them. The remaining words here in this catalog go beyond the family. They go to the culture at large. They go beyond children or parents. It goes for the whole society and it is backbiting and scandal mongering and lack of self-control. We are seeing in the media night after night after night these characteristics that stems from backbiting and mongering. Really is just when you think about the scandal mongering and the love for scandal and lying out, right lying. There are cable news networks that are dedicated to backbiting and scandal mongering.
I won't mention names. Night after night, gossip, backbiting, scandals. The words jump out of the pages here because an increase in the backbiting and increase in scandal mongering results from absence of restraint. They result from absence of moral decency and the absence of the truth.
And my beloved friends, I can tell you, I know you'll agree with me that no amount of legislation, no amount of knowledge, no amount of education, no amount of indignation is going to cure this. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ is going to change our culture. Their moral conduct. Secondly, in verse five he talks about their religious zeal. They pursue their immorality with religious zeal. It might come as a shock to some of you that these people Paul describing here have religious zeal. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, the prophets thundered against false religion. Religion that is devoid of morality. Amos, who was in the north in Israel, and the prophet Isaiah who was in the south in Judah. In Israel itself, during the reign of Jeroboam the second, there was a boom in religion and religious activities.
But there was utter collapse in morality. In Amos 2 8, we are told that immorality had invaded the Jewish religion, the Jewish believers. The prophet Isaiah deplores the same thing in Judah, in the south. He told us how God feels about that empty religion.
Here's what he said. God is saying, when you spread forth your hands, I hide my eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen, says the Lord. Beloved, this is a religion of self. This is a religion of self-serving.
This is the worship of the environment and the worship of immorality. This is the religion of self-indulgence. The one thing that will be so highlighted in the last days, according to the Word of God, that there will be outward religion, but no power in that religion.
Or they will go to a church, or they will go through a liturgy, or will they drop a couple of bucks in the plate, but they will not be or have any power. It is outward show. It's a religion in form only, no power. It's an outward show without inward reality. It's a religion without moral demands. It is an impression without confession.
Hear me right, please, please, beloved, hear me right. True faith combines form and power. True faith combines spiritual worship and godly living. True faith talks the talk, but also walk the walk.
True faith helps the suffering sinners how and where to go to get forgiveness and healing and relief and hope for the future. Religion without moral conduct is a dead religion. The zeal without Christ is a misguided zeal, to say the least, which leads me to the third characteristic of their fanaticism, militant fanaticism. We're seeing it now. These godless lovers of self not only profess a religion at a very superficial level and an outward level, but they want to ram this kind of immorality down the throats of everybody else.
Listen to me. They are on a mission. They want every church to conform to their militant fanaticism. They are hostile toward biblical morality. They would assail anyone who disagrees with them. So much for tolerance, huh? They accuse those who uphold biblical morality as unloving. They are forever conniving and scheming as to how they're going to invade and silence Bible-believing Christians.
You have to think Paul was writing for today. Verse 6, he talks about how they take advantage of weak women, but I dare say weak men as well. For those same people, they despise motherhood. They belittle godly women. They play on hurtful past instead of healing from it. They paint a bleak picture that all men are evil. They manipulate emotions. They dominate minds and they intimidate the unsuspecting. Recently I was on national television discussing a new study which showed that 50% of pastors in America are afraid to preach on biblical morality. They call it controversial subjects.
Why is that? Oh, because those fanatics, those militant fanaticism who want religion without biblical morality, they have succeeded in intimidating these pastors. It's heartbreaking to say the least.
And when I use the word heartbreaking, I don't mean it lightly and I don't take it lightly because when I say that, my personal heart is broken. The truth, my beloved friend, the truth is they want to destroy biblical Christianity as we know it. And they're succeeding in some circles. And Paul is saying those people are weak in character. These people are misled by deception.
Those people play upon false guilt. Look at verse 8. Those salespeople of deception are like Janus and Jambress. Who are Janus and Jambress? Well, they're the two magician, Pharaoh's magicians who when Moses performed miracles and the stick became a snake and so forth, they through black magic imitated Moses' miracles. Now, they're not mentioned in the book of Exodus, but they are mentioned in the Jewish literature and the Jewish writings. And what Paul is saying is this, that these false teachers in the churches who are opposing the truth are like these two Egyptian magicians.
They're using black magic. Moses taught the law. Paul preached the gospel.
Both preached God's truth for their generations at their time. And therefore, those who reject the infallible word of God, both Old and New Testament are preaching black magic. But here's what I want to tell you as your brother in Christ.
And I want to say to you, do not be afraid or intimidated by those back door religious traders. Even if the few weak ones have been taken by them, even if their falsehood becomes fashionable, even if their anti-biblical teaching is accepted by society, we must stand firm and never, never, never what? Never give up on biblical truth. Never give up. Thank God there is good news.
Now, listen, if you think this is hard to hear, it's much more difficult to prepare. But the good news is the last verse in this section. Thank God for the good news. Thank God that the gospel is good news. Thank God that Jesus is the good news. The last verse, verse 9, the good news.
But they will not, say that with me, they will not get very far because as the case of those two men, their folly will be clear to everyone. Remember Jesus said the world is a field in which his seed, that's the gospel, is being planted, wheat. But he also said Satan is coming right behind us as we sow the seed of the gospel. He comes right behind us and he sows the weeds in the middle of the wheat. Right there, in the middle, in many a church, many so-called evangelical churches. And beloved, we're seeing Satan right now with his seed, his weeds, in the middle of the church, sowing it, lots of it.
And Paul is saying to us, who will go through these experiences? Don't be intimidated. Don't be infected. Don't let the weeds cover your wheat. Don't get carried away with the flood.
But stand and uphold the truth boldly against the prevailing tide of culture. Why? Why are you saying that? Because soon and very soon, you and I are going to be caught up in the air and meet Jesus in the air. Soon and very soon, we will hear the shout of the archangel. Soon and very soon, we're going to hear the trumpet sound.
Soon and very soon, we will see the judge sitting on the judge's bench. Soon and very soon, we will see him appear in his glory. Soon and very soon, we shall reign and rule with him. Soon and very soon, he will come to take his faithful ones home and he shall wipe away all of our tears. Soon and very soon, we will be with him forever and ever and ever and ever.
How many evers? And ever and ever and ever. The question is, will you be there? You're listening to Dr. Michael Youssef, and this is Leading the Way. There are multiple ways to listen to the powerful teaching of Dr. Youssef, the radio, subscribe to the podcast, download the Leading the Way app, and more.
You've got details about all of these when you click the Listen link at ltw.org. Hey, after all we've experienced in recent years, there is nothing that's more encouraging than hearing about lives being changed by the power of the gospel. And that's why I'd like to share a quick story that the Leading the Way team heard about a new Christian.
They tell us, while searching for radio stations to play in the background at work, a young man stumbled upon Leading the Way. Knowing it was Christian content, he initially wanted to tune away. But the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead was so compelling, he kept listening. This experience planted a seed to learn more about Christ and a desire to hear more Bible stories. Soon he accepted Jesus as his Savior, and he's continued listening to Leading the Way to deepen his understanding of the Bible and to grow in Christ. Friends, isn't this a powerful example of how Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef is changing one life at a time?
Right there in your neighborhood and in neighborhoods just like yours all around the world, drawing those who are living in darkness to find the light of Jesus. So partner with Dr. Youssef today. Here's the number 866-626-4356. That's 866-626-4356. Or you can go to ltw.org, ltw.org. This program is furnished by Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.
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