1 But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people. 6 For among them are those who worm their way into households and deceive gullible women overwhelmed by sins and led astray by a variety of passions, 7 always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so these also resist the truth. They are men who are corrupt in mind and worthless in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be clear to all, as was the foolishness of Jannes and Jambres.
2 Timothy 3:1-9
I am a fan of blues music—the groove, the sound, the story telling. If you’ve listened to blues music, you know it’s usually about hard times. My baby left me, the tax man came by, and so forth. So when I read today’s passage, Paul’s words in verse one sound like a blues song. “Hard times a’comin, Timothy, they a’comin these last days.”
Now Paul isn’t a blues musician, but like a blues musician, he paints a picture of these hard times and the kind of person who causes them. And what a picture he paints! It’s dark, emotive and filled with angst. This person loves themselves, loves money, is boastful and proud, demeans others, is ungrateful, lacks self-control and much more! According to Paul, people like this present themselves as loving God, but they are actually hypocrites. Paul warns his readers to avoid these people, deliberately turning their backs on them.
Why? Because these people have a way of worming their way into places of influence. They present themselves as having knowledge and insight that will lead to blessing, but their ways actually draw others away from God. In time, their wisdom and ways will be exposed as foolishness, but until that happens we are to avoid them. We should not engage with their foolishness, lest we become ensnared in their lies.
Now, you may find yourself asking, “Doesn’t that run counter to what we are supposed to do? Aren’t we supposed to engage people with the gospel of Jesus Christ?” Absolutely—as long as the person realizes they’re lost and is seeking truth. But the person Paul describes here actually twists or even opposes the gospel. They flaunt their knowledge and will over the knowledge and will of God. That is the person we are to avoid.
Hard times, they’re coming…there’s no getting past that fact. Will we be caught up in false teachings and false promises, or will we avoid the troublemakers and focus on the things God calls us to?
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Often, we associate hard times with events, not people. How does Paul’s association of hard times and the actions of people challenge your understanding of hard times?
- Paul tells us to avoid people who create hard times. How does your heart respond to that? How can you determine whether a person is lost and searching or are seeking to stir up trouble?
Pray for new Christian brothers and sisters among families with belief systems hostile to the gospel. Pray for protection, access to God’s Word, spiritual growth, and for softening of their family members and friends to the message of the gospel.