We are living in the last days!

We are living in the last days! – a sermon on 2 Timothy 3:1-9 by Rev. Colin Pretorius.

What would you do if you found out tomorrow that you had just a short time to live? What advice would you give your kids or your husband or your wife? Would you just remind them of all the good things you’ve shared over the years, or would you also encourage them and remind them of the toils and troubles that may lie ahead? What would you tell them about their spiritual life and the dangers that lie ahead for them on that front?

This is what the apostle Paul does in our passage today. From what we know about his final days, this letter was written from his dungeon prison in Rome. As he says in a later passage, his life is already being poured out and his time of departure from this earth has come.[1] Knowing his time on earth is drawing to a close, he’s writing to his spiritual child, Timothy, to encourage him, to exhort him – we see that throughout the letter. But Paul was also a realistic man – he knew that the times ahead were not going to be all smooth sailing for young Timothy. So he doesn’t sugar-coat things – he warns Timothy of the dangers and opposition that lie ahead, reminding him that they are living in the last days.

As the title of the letter tells us, this letter is written to Timothy. But beloved in Jesus, that doesn’t mean that it applies just to him or just to that time. Those who preach God’s Word have to pay special attention to what Paul says in this passage and in others like it, but it’s important to all of us too. It’s important because uncertainty, disagreement and disunity abound in churches today. It’s important because the very same enemy that’s been attacking God’s people and His church throughout the ages is still trying to fester and foster disunity between believers today.

Make no mistake, we are just as much under threat today in our churches as Timothy was all those years ago. We only have to think about issues such as the disharmony caused by different styles of worship or by whether women should be ordained as office-bearers in the church or about the biblical view of marriage. And this isn’t just coming from outside of the church – from inside and out, biblical values are under attack. They’re being watered down to cater for secular values, to cater for so-called inclusiveness. And in all of this, Satan rubs his paws in delight! He delights in sowing division in churches.

In the sections we’ve read today, Paul tells Timothy that the danger ahead is very real. He tells him what that danger looks like, and he tells him what to do about it.

  • The reality of the danger (v1);
  • The content of the danger (v2-5a); and
  • The solution to the danger (v5b-9).

[1] 2 Timothy 4:6.