False Teachers and False Brethren of the Last Days. 2Ti_3:1-9
A description of the dangerous teachers:
v. 1. This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
v. 2. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
v. 3. without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
v. 4. traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
v. 5. having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From such turn away.
v. 6. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
v. 7. ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
This entire passage is prophetical in character, it being the Lord's intention to give to all pastors to the end of time a warning: But understand this, that in the last days there will be upon us perilous times. The apostle is not referring in general to the entire time of the New Testament, but he is prophesying of the time immediately preceding the Day of Judgment. In those days there will be upon the Christians dangerous times, characterized not only by a moral degeneracy of the human race in general, but also of the so-called visible Church. See Mat_24:12; Mat_23:24.
This condition the apostle now describes at length, saying that men will be lovers of self, in the bad sense, egoism and self-centeredness being their main characteristic, causing them to seek only their own advantage and ignoring the needs of their neighbors. Lovers of money they will be, covetousness being one form of selfishness, money and wealth being the sum and substance of all happiness to them. These two points, however, selfishness and avarice, are the roots from which such a behavior is developed as to cause the dissolution of all social relationships. For it follows, first of all, that they become boastfully proud, assuming an honor for themselves which they do not deserve. At the same time they are haughty, puffed up with a sense of their own importance, looking down upon others. But it is a false pride to which they have become addicted, for which reason the next step is their becoming blasphemers. They not only desecrate everything that is holy and divine by their absence of proper honor and respect, but they defame both God and their neighbors by their superciliousness. Their own person, their supposed rights, they want to elevate at all costs, those of others may be trodden under foot. Since they do not recognize divine authority, they also will not regard the rights of men: they are disobedient to parents, they refuse to honor the representatives of God. Ungrateful they are, neither recognizing nor appreciating the love which others show them. They are irreligious, profane, irreverent, the divine rules and laws having no effect upon them. They are callously indifferent to every form of true affection, they repress even the feeling of natural relationship and its obligations. Even when friendships and compacts are entered upon and assurances of faithfulness have been given, they do not consider themselves bound by their promises. At the slightest provocation they show themselves implacable. In such cases, moreover, they do not hesitate to become defamers of their neighbor, of besmirching the good name of such as they have called friends; all feeling for truth and fairness is killed in their hearts. They are therefore kept in check by no restraint, they are without self-control and have long ago forgotten the meaning of true temperance. All ennobling influences are set aside by them, they are fierce and savage; neither religion nor morality, neither common decency nor laudable custom, have the power to keep them in control, They are without all love for mankind and everything that is good; they take no interest in any schemes or plans for the amelioration of conditions among men. For that reason they are also treacherous, addicted to the ways and methods of traitors; if people depend upon them, they will betray their trust without a single qualm. They are reckless, without cool consideration of situations, not weighing any possible consequences. This follows, in turn, from the fact that they are conceited in their own mind, so thoroughly convinced of their own excellencies that they have lost their sound judgment. They are lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God; they prefer the desires and pleasures of this world to the fear and love of God. Of true piety and love toward God there is hardly a vestige. And so the apostle summarizes the entire sad picture in the words: Having a form of religion, but denying its power. They find it to their advantage to keep up so much of a show of sanctity and piety, by imitating the manner of true Christians, that the impression may be registered as though they were truly devout Christians. Often, however, the mask is torn from this professional piety, and the picture which is then revealed may well fill all men with horror. There is only one thing to be done when such men become manifest in their true colors, namely, to avoid them, to have nothing to do with them. The nearer we come to the last day, the more the necessity for ceaseless vigilance becomes apparent.
Even in the early Church there were suck hypocrites and false Christians, a fact which causes the apostle to make the application of his warning at once: For to these belong those that enter into the houses and lead captive silly women laden with sins, agitated by various lusts, always learning and never being able to come to the knowledge of truth. To this class of people belong also certain men that arrogate to themselves the right to teach. They insinuate themselves, they worm themselves into the houses, into the families; without a call they manage to gain entrance into houses, into the confidence of their inmates. This has ever been a characteristic of false prophets, that they claimed the right to convert people to their own pernicious views without having been sent by the Lord, Mat_7:15; Jer_14:14. A favorite method of theirs in our day is to send pamphlets and folders to people belonging to congregations. Thus they become busybodies in other men's matters. The Mormons and other sects are especially aggressive along these lines. Their object is, if possible, to have a conversation with the women of the house in the absence of the husband, especially with such as come under the heading "silly women," such as give strong evidence of their peculiar weakness, of their tendency to be governed by their feelings. All too often a sectarian religious agent, one that is versed in all the blandishments that are intended to make an impression upon women, and knows how to gain their confidence, will succeed in deceiving and leading captive such women, in getting a hold upon them, in making them his willing followers. These women are almost invariably such as are burdened with the knowledge of various trespasses, that feel the guilt of some specific transgressions, particularly against the Sixth Commandment. In their case the false peace and comfort preached by the false teachers is readily accepted; the interest taken in their case flatters their vanity, and they forget all thoughts of real repentance. They become a prey to the suggestions of the errorists all the more readily since they are agitated in their minds with various lusts, not only vanity and the desire for luxuries, but also voluptuousness. History has shown time and again that it was just the false teachers that caused gullible women to be deceived, and the stories connected with some religious cults are often the essence of unsavoriness. And no wonder; for, as the apostle shows, such women are actuated by an altogether abnormal desire for diversion. They are always making a pretense at learning, while, as a matter of fact, they are only on the lookout for every kind of sensational news connected with religion. There is nothing stable, nothing reliable in their interest. Therefore they never come to the knowledge and understanding of the truth; they lose the ability for real study of God's Word and will. What a solemn warning to the women of all times!