5 August 2022
“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Timothy 3:2 ESV).
We often concentrate on the positive aspects of ‘holiness’ – purity, ‘set-aside for God’, blamelessness, righteousness, ‘godliness’ – and these are not ‘wrong’ or improper. But we may sometimes overlook the negative traits that speak of the absence or degradation of ‘holiness’ in this world, and also among believers and religious circles.
And this is particularly obvious in these last days; if we were to look closer at these negative ‘traits’, we would have a greater appreciation of the contrasts that need to be seen and manifested in lives of holiness, from Scripture’s point of view.
This generation has sunk very deep into self-absorption, self-centeredness and self-importance when compared to previous generations, and these are indeed manifestations of the lack and ‘absence’ of ‘holiness’. God is holy and He desires a holy people; but humanity has rebelled against Him and seeks to be god. Even among those He has called out to be His people, the ‘decline’ of holiness and the ‘display’ of sin and unrighteousness become more and more
manifested. 2 Timothy 3:2 highlights this reality – more than ever, in the last days, people would be lovers of self, lovers of what the world has to offer, manifested in pride, arrogance, abusiveness and the disregard and indifference towards authority, gratitude, sacrifice and other-centeredness.
Sacrifice for the good of others – parents for children, husbands and wives for each other, employers for employees, political leaders for the community they claim to serve – this is almost unheard of in our days. Yes, this may also be prominently absent in the church and religious circles, often ‘camouflaged’ by religious externalities and posture – and these are ‘evidence’ of the lack or even absence of ‘holiness’ among so-called God’s people.
Society, as enunciated by some, has become a jungle in which we are all out hunting for pleasure, profit and power, and are happy to put others down or ‘shoot them’ if this is the way to get what we want.
As compared to believers of up to about a generation ago, we have shockingly little sense of the reality, pervasiveness, shame, and guilt of sin. We cherish shockingly strong illusions about having a right to expect from God health, wealth, ease, excitement, and sexual gratification. We are shockingly unaware that suffering Christianity is an integral aspect of biblical holiness.
We must be fully aware that true holiness is neither self-indulgent nor soft. It is tough. It has backbone and grit and a face like flint. It is fueled by a heart of joy as the winning post appears ahead; it is ‘powered’ by a sustained exertion of concentrated effort day in and day out – a single-minded, wholehearted, self-denying, flat-out commitment to praising and pleasing the Father through the Son as long as life lasts.
Ponder over this:
“but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger, by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honour and dishonour; through slander and praise..”.(2 Corin. 6:4-8).
What is described by Paul may not only be peculiar to his times; it is to be expected by God’s people in these last days as we approach the end times. Notice that in all the afflictions, hardships, calamities and pain, the Apostle demonstrated the traits of holiness – purity, kindness, patience, genuine love, truthful speech, righteousness, selflessness and self-denial.
This is our calling: the Lord Jesus Himself said, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:12-13). We are to endure, to persevere in truth and holiness until we see Him face to face