And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
We had a stranger walk up during the Bible study last week and ask us what was the word from God in this hour. He was a believer and wanted a present word from the Lord. I had not prepared to answer such a question that morning. There are many things God has impressed upon my heart and mind in recent times, but if I could only share one thing, what would it be? I’m glad I had no notice that such a question would be asked because all I could do in that moment was cry out to God in my heart for an answer to the man’s question. The Lord gave me the text above!
We live in a day of great darkness. Lawlessness is clearly abounding. In 2 Tim 3, the apostle begins to list the attitudes that will be prevalent in the last days. V. 3 tells us men will be “unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good”. With wickedness increasing, love is diminishing. The word “unloving” in that verse is rendered “without natural affection” in some translations and “inhuman” in others. How often in recent days have we been shocked by the criminal acts of men that are unnatural to our understanding? We can hardly believe someone would do something so inhumane! Those are illegal acts, but what about the legal ones? Who would have thought that a nation of people seeking religious freedom would one day allow a mother to legally murder her child provided that baby was still in the womb?!! It is a day of great of lawlessness and the love of many is growing cold.
As awful as those unnatural acts are, there is something even more disturbing about the list of sins in 2 Tim 3. In v. 5, we find that the individuals that commit such things have “a form of godliness but [are] denying its power.” These are religionists, i.e. this lack of love will be found within churches, among those who profess Christ! Our assemblies today are well-educated in the love of God. In fact, God’s love seems to be the only quality that many churches are willing to preach. There was a church in the apostle Paul’s day that was also well-taught in the area of love. Did you know that of all the individual letters Paul wrote to the churches, the letter to the Ephesians contains the most references to love (that is, the Greek word “agape” and its variants)? They knew a lot about love and yet, of the seven churches listed in Revelation 2 and 3, it is to the church at Ephesus that we hear the Lord say, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Rev 2:4) Too many souls in places of worship today are so busy in their pursuit of the things of this world that if God gets any of their time, He is at best an afterthought!
Be careful, Christian! When lawlessness abounds, love will grow cold. Remember the verse that follows our text today? “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Mt 24:13) The true child of God will endure that dark time and maintain a love for the Lord above all else. Don’t forget which sins led to their destruction in the days of Noah. “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark…” (Mt 24:38) In a day of great wickedness, it’s easy to look at those around you and think you’re doing okay. But in Noah’s day, it was the simple everyday things that consumed their lives and became the idols that replaced a preeminent love for God! The verse continues, “and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (v. 39) May the love of God so consume us that, as the hymn says, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”!