Yesterday we began discussing the passage that’s so similar to the one in Romans 1, which we discussed in The Reality of God’s Wrath. Paul begins the third chapter of 2 Timothy as a reminder: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Tim 3:1-5) Yesterday we discussed the first part of the list that involves self idolatry (see Turn Away From Self Idolatry). Today we’ll follow the second grouping that centers around family life.
The first in this list is “disobedient to parents”, which is rebellion against parental authority, most assuredly later including all authority, which comes from God. “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.” (Tit 3:1-2) In the Law that the Lord gave to Moses, the Lord said: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Ex 20:12).
In Proverbs the reward for doing so is discussed: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.” (Prov 3:1-2) As children are told in the ten commandments to obey and honor their parents, Jesus tells us why: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) And then discussed in an epistle: “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.” (Col 3:20)
It’s rare that children are only “disobedient to parents”; the pattern will continue into adulthood if it’s not stopped. “Disobedience” and a synonym “Disrespectful” will lead to an “ungrateful” spirit, because that “me mentality” believes they are owed whatever they want. God designed us to thrive when we are humble, moral, and thankful. When we are arrogant, immoral, and ungrateful, we can’t have fellowship with Him, nor can we experience all it means to be created in the image of God. “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
So God included repeated commands in His Word about being thankful, reminding us that a grateful heart is a happy heart (Col 3:15). Ingratitude is a sin with serious repercussions as we discussed the other day: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Rom 1:21) When we refuse to be thankful or to express gratitude, we grow hard-hearted and proud. We take for granted all God has given us and become our own gods. One reason the Bible takes such a strong stance against unthankfulness and ingratitude may be that God knows that the end result of such arrogance is a reprobate mind (Rom 1:24). When we remind ourselves often that all we are and all we have is a gift from God (James 1:17), we are guarding ourselves against idolatry and pride.
And being “ungrateful” leads to being “unholy”. When Peter repeats the Lord’s words from Leviticus, “because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy'” (1 Pet 1:16), he is instructing believers to be “set apart” from the world unto the Lord. We need to be living by God’s standards, not the world’s. God isn’t calling us to be perfect, but to be distinct from the world.
When we choose to be worldly instead of holy, we give in to debauchery, which is the habitual and unrestrained indulgence of lust and sensuality. A Christian is one who has chosen to deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). The lifestyle of carnality and the lifestyle of spirituality are incompatible and therefore cannot coexist. “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.” (1 Jn 5:18)
Choosing to be “unholy” flaunts ungodly actions, and shamelessly takes pleasure in doing shocking things to provoke reactions from people. When we take pleasure in provoking others, we are lacking in normal affections, and are “unloving”, acting brutish, beastly, and cruel. We are told that “he who does not love abides in death” (1 Jn 3:14). It’s pretty clear who loves and who doesn’t: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 Jn 4:20)
Those with an “unloving” spirit, becomes an “irreconcilable” or “unforgiving” person. This is a person who is beyond reason with bitterness and an unrelenting attitude that nobody can talk to or soften in any way (Rom 2:5). Sadly, the devil has been working overtime on the breakdown of the family. Unforgiveness robs us of the full life God intends for us. Rather than promote justice, our unforgiveness festers into bitterness. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (Heb 12:14-15)
Most of us have at least one in every family: a child who doesn’t honor and is disobedient to their parents, and is disrespectful to those who disagree with them. This same person is without a thankful spirit, but is instead demanding of others and has a reprobate mind, who chooses sin over being holy and set apart for the Lord. These people aren’t loving or with normal affection, and those around them are either forced to walk on eggshells or stay away from them.
Without normal affection for those they supposedly love, they purposely provoke others because they choose to be cruel, unforgiving and bitter instead of a loving member of the family. They are in fact “lovers of self” within the family unit, and truly don’t care about the others in the family, and certainly don’t have love for one another. Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord, must make certain we are not this family member we’ve described here today. If we’ve seen any part of that within these Scriptures, we must take the attitude to the Lord, repent and ask Him to do a work within us for His glory!