2 Timothy 022 – The De-evolution of Man – Part 22 Timothy 3:2b-3 • Dr. Andy Woods • February 21, 2016 • 2 Timothy - The Call to Persevere
The De-evolution of Man, Part 2
2-21-16 2 Timothy 2:2b-3 Lesson 22
Good morning everybody, if we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 3, and verse 2, taking a look at verses 2 and 3 today, if we’re lucky. The title of our message this morning is The De-evolution of Man, Part 2. This Wednesday night we’re going to be dealing some issues in salvation in a series on Wednesday night, this week coming up in particular is going to be very important because we’re going to be dealing with a controversy that has been brewing in the body of Christ since around 1980 entitled Lordship salvation. So we’ll be looking at that, some of you may have heard different things on that. We’ll try to look at the Scripture together and see what the Bible teaches about the Lordship of Christ and how do you reconcile the submission to Christ’s Lordship with teachings that say we’re saved by faith alone.
We are finding ourselves in our Sunday mornings together studying through the book of 2 Timothy, which is really a calling, if you will, that God placed on Timothy to complete his task as pastor of the church at Ephesus. Paul writes this book to this young struggling pastor, not questioning whether he’s a believer or not but questioning whether he’s going to finish the race that God has called him to. And we throw in the towel so quickly in our challenges in life and so this book seems tailor-made just for our generation.
This is the final letter that Paul wrote. Chapter 1, you’ll recall, is a generic call to faithfulness and endurance in the ministry. And then we move from there into chapter 2 where Paul basically gave young Timothy ten word pictures or metaphors of what faithfulness actually looks like. And then beginning in chapter 3, verse 1, which is what we started last time, all the way through chapter 4, verse 8, he begins to deal with another subject, which is the apostasy. And we, in a couple of sermons ago, looked at what the apostasy is. The apostasy is basically a time in church history where the church would gradually move away from known truth, things once embraced will be suddenly “no longer accepted” as truth. And that’s what apostasy is, it’s a departure from known truth. Paul says it’s coming Timothy.
And to sort of set the table for what’s coming in 2 Timothy we did a study a couple of sermons ago on ten characteristics of the apostasy. And then from there we re-entered 2 Timothy 3 where we have an in-depth description of what Timothy, as a pastor, as someone who wants to be faithful to God, what he is to do in the midst of the apostasy. So the apostasy is described in verses 1-9, these are the verses that we find ourselves in this morning. The evil is described, verses 1-7, and then some examples of evil are described in verses 8-9.
What do you do when you find yourself in a situation where you’re trying to be faithful to God in a church and the church reflects more the values of the world than it does the Bible? What do you do exactly? And that’s essentially what God is telling Timothy to do, how he needs to be faithful to God in the midst of a worldly and an apostate church. And sort of in the process of describing this apostasy that’s coming, which by the way God never says you can derail; He simply says it’s coming. He begins to describe what people become like when they become apostate. What do people look like, not only in the world but also in the church when they stray from the truth.
And he gives essentially 19 characteristics of human beings.
And the reason I call these sermons The De-evolution of Man is for this simple reason: People become just like animals. Of course, they’re genetically different from the species of the animals but their morality and their conscience is very similar to that of an animal, which is a tragic thing because man was created different than the animals. In fact, I’ll be showing you a little bit later man was designed to rule over the animals. And what a tragic thing when we become just like the animals that we’re different from and are supposed to rule over.
So 19 characteristics is sort of difficult to outline. Here’s my best attempt at an outline. You have in verse 1, which we covered last time, a warning of difficulty and danger. That’s the warning of apostasy; what’s coming into the church is not just difficulty but danger. And then he begins to describe what the church will be like as it becomes more and more worldly; people will have misplaced love. We saw that last time, they will become lovers, not of God, but rather of self, of money, and of pleasure. And in the process of the apostasy people will become extremely prideful, and we saw that in their boastful words, their arrogant attitudes and they will actually become revilers, meaning essentially abusive speech.
And then what follows in verse 2 and into verse 3 are eight alpha privitives. What in the world are you talking about, you’ve been in school to long. In fact, I was going to entitle this sermon “Eight Alpha Privitives” but I didn’t really think that would sell to well so I decided on The De-evolution of Man, Part 2.
But what are alpha privitives? If you’re not familiar with Greek it won’t jump out as obvious to you but if you know a little bit about the Greek language you’ll see that what Paul strings together here are eight alpha privitives. “Alpha” is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, just like “a” is the first letter in the English alphabet. And a lot of time when you put “a” in front of a word in English you’re creating a negation of something, you’re negating something.
For example, if someone is an atheist the “a” in front of the word “theist” means they are negating God or they’re denying God. If someone is atypical, that means they are not typical or in other words they are uncommon. So you automatically understand this idea in English and Greek functions the exact same way; by putting an “a” in front of a word it oftentimes negates that word.
It’s like calling someone, or people call themselves an agnostic, gnosis means knowledge, and so if you’re an agnostic you’re saying I don’t have knowledge. And by the way, from agnostic we get the word ignoramus. I like to point that out to certain friends of mine who pride themselves on the fact that they’re agnostic, oh, I’m supposed to be impressed with that. Well, what that word literally means is an ignoramus. Just a few tools for your toolbox there.
But what we have happening here in verses 2 and 3 are eight alpha privitives, and Paul puts these together to describe what people become like when they move away from God. Numbers 1-5 are alpha privitives and I’m going to translate them as such for you today. And then verses 7-9 are three more alpha privitives. Now I want you to notice number 6 there; number 6 in Greek is not an alpha privitive, and people think that number 6 has been misplaced somehow. But number 6 has not been displaced; number 6 is not an alpha privitive, but it is intentionally placed there by Paul because when I show you the meaning of number 6 you’ll see that that is placed there by Paul to sum up everything on this list. Nothing sums it up better than the non-alpha privitive that he uses there in number 6 but more on that coming.
What do people look like when they stray away from God—the world always looks like this, the dangers, what do they start to look like in the church. The first alpha privitive is disobedience to parents. Notice verse 2, “For men will become 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.”
The first alpha privitive here is disobedient to parents; we can translate that alpha privitive as follows: Un-obedient to parents, in other words, people will begin, in the last days as they drift away from God to have a lack of respect for the authority structure that God has set up. One of the things that God has set up throughout the world and throughout the church is an authority structure which is there for our own good. One of those pieces of authority is the parent/child relationship. In fact, you all know the fifth commandment, Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
God is the author of the parent/child relationship. Why has God given to humanity in general, to the church in particular, the parent/child relationship? The parent/child relationship exist to, first of all, bring under control the sinful nature of the child. You all know that kids have a sin nature? Now when our daughter was born we didn’t get her in the corner and say okay, mom and dad want to teach you a few things here, you ready? Here is how you throw a tantrum. Here is how you pout when you don’t get your way. Here is how you’re to be selfish. Our daughter already had those tendencies, she obviously got those from her mom and not me [laughter] of course I’m just kidding, joke, joke, joke. Actually biblically the sin nature is passed down through the father, you understand that; people say I knew that was true anyway.
But you see, children come into this world, essentially if they had the means to do what they would want to do they would become mass murderers. And children, and all of us are this way, we think that the sun rises and sets with us. We think, by nature, because of the sin nature we’ve inherited that the world revolves around us. And the function of the parent/child relationship is to lovingly bring that sin nature under control.
And there are different tools by which God has given to do that. Discipline obviously is something that comes to mind but it’s also through role modeling godliness in the home. In fact, the very first knowledge a child has about God comes through their own parents. And this is how God set it up. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is one!  Love the LORD your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your strength.  These commandments I give to you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children, talk about them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, when you get up.”
So you’ll notice these different verbs here, sitting, walking, lying down, rising; this communicates the idea that all throughout the day the parent is to role model to the child godly behavior and then to didactically teach it over and over again as different situations arise. And this is one of the great problems with western culture where we farm out our children to institutions. And I’m not knocking people because a lot of people are under a lot of economic distress but the fact of the matter is in many situations a child spends far more time in a day center or a public school than they do with their own parents. And that is outside of the bounds of why got created the parent/child relationship to begin with.
One of my favorite verses on this is Joshua 4:19-24, it talks about stones that are to be set up in the Jordan. God specifically told Joshua, as he traversed the Jordan miraculously; at Gilgal Joshua set up twelve stones that he had taken from the Jordan, saying to the Israelites in the future when your children ask their parents what do these stones mean, you shall inform them that Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan in front of you until you crossed over, just as the LORD your God has done with the Red Sea, drying it up in front of you until we crossed over, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD is mighty.”
[NASB, Joshua 4:19-24, “Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho.  Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal.  He said to the sons of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’  Then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’  For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.’”]
How in the world is the next generation supposed to learn of the miracles of God? Well, God said here’s how it’s going to work Joshua, I want you to set up these stones and one of these days these kids of yours are going to say hey mom, dad, not Sunday School teacher, not Christian school educator. Am I against Christian education? I’m for Christian education. Am I against Sunday School teachers? No, I’m for Sunday School teachers. But this text specifically says the children are going to ask their parents and the fathers, it’s interesting, it says “their fathers” here, are going to communicate to their sons what God did at the Jordan and then what God did in the prior generation with the drying up of the Red Sea. And so what you’ll discover in the Bible is the knowledge of God is to be transferred from parent to child. The Sunday School and the Christian school, the only thing they can really do is reinforce what’s happening at home. If it isn’t happening at home there’s no Sunday School teacher on planet earth that can compensate for a paradigm that God set up.
Proverbs 22:6, Proverbs are maxims of life, they’re not ironclad promises; they are principles, there’s always exceptions to principles but all things being equal this is how it normally works. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” [NASB] See, one of these days these kids are going to leave your nest and they’re going to go off to college most likely, or the secular work force, and they’re going to be challenged in terms of whether they’re going to follow God or not.
This is exactly what happened with the book of Daniel. Daniel had three friends; we know them as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but those are their Babylonian names. Their Hebrew names, before Nebuchadnezzar changed them, are Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. And as you get into the etymology of each of those Hebrew names you’ll discover that each name reflects God’s character. In other words, these three Hebrew youths, along with Daniel, whose name eventually was changed to Belshazzar, came from godly homes. And there wasn’t anybody more challenged, particularly in their teen years than these three Hebrew youths, four total.
And as you study the book of Daniel you’ll discover that they remained faithful to God despite temptations to compromise over and over again. And why is it that these youths did not compromise? Because of the influence of godly parenting. That is the logic of the parent-child relationship. Timothy was, in point of fact, a recipient of that relationship. You might remember what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5; he said, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”
In other words, Timothy became what he became… and by the way, Timothy also had a godly name, his name actually means God honoring, meaning that he came from godly spiritual heritage. He became what he became because of truth that came to him, first through grandmother and secondly through his mother.
And part of the problem that we have is we don’t really paint the whole picture for what parents are supposed to do. I believe Ephesians 6:1-4 paints the whole picture. It says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise),  SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.” And most people stop reading right there, but if you look at verse 4 it says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
You see, there are two extremes that we always gravitate towards for some reason; either we don’t prepare our children at all, and just leave them to their own devices or we come at them through anger and legalism. We drive them to the point of rage. It is not difficult to drive a child to the point of anger and rage to their own parents. I can’t say how many people I know that even to this day as adults suffer from anger issues and unforgiveness issues related to their own parents because their parents provoked their children to anger.
How do you provoke a child to anger? You put unrealistic expectations upon them. You say things like I wish you were more like your brother. Or I wish you were more like the kid down the street. Or you tell them they’ll never amount to anything. I mean, this type of verbiage goes on in so-called Christian homes constantly and it’s an out of balance concept. It’s not following the Bible.
Yes, you bring that sin nature under control as God allows you, but you also don’t do it in such a way that you pile on top of the child so much legalism and unrealistic expectations that they are literally provoked to rage and anger. It’s a tremendous balancing act that God has called us to and we really need to be on our knees every single day of our lives in this precious task that we have in child rearing. God is the one who gave the parent-child relationship for a specific reason and what will happen in the last days is even that relationship will fall on hard times. It will start to be non-respected. Now why would it be non-respected? It would be non-respected because people don’t respect God. If you push God out of your mind and out of your consciousness you don’t have any basis for understanding the parent-child relationship.
Why is that? Because God is the giver of that relationship. You know, we’re living in this society today where all of these issues are now being debated: same-sex marriage, why is that even being debated? Prior generations didn’t debate; we’re debating it now. Why is that? Because we’ve removed God and if you remove God you remove the basis for understanding marriage since who gave the institution of marriage? God. So Paul predicts this and in Romans 1:28 he says, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, [God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.]”
And then he begins to give the relationships that will suffer as a result of removing God from the equation, Romans 1:30, a parallel passage to this one here, says, people will become “disobedient to parents.” [Romans 1:30, “slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,”] Lack of respect for parental authority is rooted in a lack of respect for God Himself because God is the one that gave parents authority over children. It’s a tragic thing to see happen but that’s our first alpha privitive.
What else is going to happen in the last days? Number 2, you also see this in verse 2, people will essentially become ungrateful. This literally translates “without grace,” without thankfulness. 1 Timothy 4:4-5 says this: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;  for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” God gives us this world to enjoy to a very large extent. And when we receive things from God we ought to be people of a grateful heart.
In fact, the most thankful and gracious people on planet earth should be Christians because God has given us so much in His Son. He’s given us unfathomable riches. I think of all the people on planet earth the people that ought to be the most grateful are not just Christians but American Christians. Look at this country that we live in; look at the freedoms that we have. Look at the fact that we can meet in a room like this without fear of storm troopers kicking the door down. I understand that America is not what we would like it to be but you know what? There’s nowhere I would rather live than in this country. It has been bountifully blessed by God. And yet what I’m seeing today in people is an attitude of un-thankfulness. What I’m seeing today, particularly if you monitor these elections, what I’m seeing today is anger, anger that’s fueled. I see resentment, I see hostility, and Paul says we ought not to be that way. We ought to be people of grace and gratefulness.
There is a third alpha privitive that he gives and this is “unholiness,” you see it there in verse 2, people will become “ungrateful,” and then also “unholy.” How could we translate “unholy”? Without holiness. What is the calling of God on the Christian? It’s holiness, it’s to have a lifestyle and a world view that is separated unto God; this principle is as old as the book of Leviticus, chapter 11, verse 44, for God says, “ For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth.”
Now this is repeated by the Apostle Peter in the New Testament, 1 Peter 1:16 says, “because it is written, “‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’” As I look out on the evangelical landscape I am not seeing a lot of sermons produced and books produced about holiness. Prior generations focused on holiness. What does the current generation focus on? Not holiness but happiness, self-fulfillment. I see a lot of talk on that kind of issues. Self-realization, reaching your own potential, being your own man or woman. And yet the New Testament is calling us to holiness. We’re living amongst a generation where there is a lack of moral purity, where people do things that prior generations would never do. Shacking up, sex before marriage, that used to be something that was taboo in prior generations; today it’s quite common.
And Paul predicts that this would happen; as the church became like the world in the last days there would be a very low level of progressive sanctification; in fact, we would become just like the Corinthians. The book of 1 Corinthians, Ray Stedman used to call 1 Californians. What were the Corinthians like? Well, they were saved; did you know that? 1 Corinthians 1:2 says they’ve “been sanctified,” past tense. [1 Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:”]
Verse 7 says, “so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” They’re saved people, they’re saints, positionally. Yet you march through that book and there’s not a lot of saintly conduct. In chapters 1-4 they’re fighting with each other over who their favorite speaker is. I follow Paul, I follow Cephas, I follow Apollos, I follow Christ. I follow John MacArthur, I follow Tony Evans, I follow Chuck Swindoll. God help us! God help us understand that that’s unholiness when we act that way.
Chapter 5, there is actually incest going on. Paul says the type of sin that is happening at Corinth is the type of sin which you don’t even find amongst the pagans, a man has his father’s wife. Even the pagans understand that incest is wrong and yet that’s what the Corinthians were involved in. [1 Corinthians 5:1, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.”]
Chapter 6 they were involved in lawsuits, taking each other to court before a pagan judge.
[1 Corinthians 6:5, “say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren,  but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?”]
And Paul says have you lost your minds? What’s the pagan judge supposed to think about you, when they see two Christians fighting with each other of such a severity that it actually takes the form of a lawsuit. As I speak I can’t tell you how many circumstances I know where one Christian is embroiled in a lawsuit against another. And Paul says because this is happening you are defeated already. The world takes notice of these things because Jesus said by your love all men will know you are my disciples. [John 13:35 ‘By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”]
Chapter 6, also they are going out and visiting the temple prostitutes, having their sexual needs not met within marriage but in a pagan temple with a prostitute. Paul, interestingly never second guesses whether these people are saved. He says specifically in chapter 6, verse 19, do you not understand that when you go and do that the Spirit of God that’s in you is taken into that sexual immorality. [1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”] You’re dragging Jesus into that. Chapter 7 there is rampant divorce and remarriage. Chapters 8-10 the stronger brothers who understand their freedom in Christ are flaunting those freedoms in the presence of the weaker brother and destroying that weaker brother. Chapter 11 they are drunk and disorderly at the Lord’s table. Could you imagine coming to the Lord’s table wasted? That’s what they’re doing. Chapters 12-14 there is rampant misuse of spiritual gifts, not understanding that the gifts are to be used in love for purposes of edification. They were putting certain people with certain gifts on a pedestal. Chapter 15 they are even denying resurrection. And yet Paul never second guesses whether these people are saved. He says you’re at a very low level of progressive sanctification. This is what the church has the capacity to descend into. As people begin to pursue happiness rather than holiness.
You know, we get calls here at the church constantly and they want to know about our youth program. And sadly we don’t get calls like this: What version of the Bible do you use? What are you using to disciple the youth? Are the youth involved in service projects? What they want to know is are there activities? Are there games? Is there a carnival festival atmosphere where we can use you as our babysitting service. And we have people constantly coming to this church and we have other people constantly leaving and many times they tell us why they’re leaving. Why are you leaving? The youth program is not big enough. I have made a mental study of people that have left this church because of the need for a bigger better youth program and you know what you discover over the years is the children in those bigger and better youth programs many times today aren’t even walking with the Lord. Why is that? Because they were never discipled, first of all in the home and secondly by a good pastor, a youth pastor, to bring them into a knowledge of the truth.
We don’t need more emphasis on happiness, we need more emphasis on holiness. And yet people in the last days would become unholy. What else would they become? They would become “unloving,” I’m now moving into verse 3, this would be our forth alpha privitive. You see at the beginning of verse 3 the word “unloving.” It’s better translated “without love.” As the last days unfolded people would become generally unloving towards God and towards each other, while the love of self would increase.
And Jesus predicted this in a parallel passage in Matthew 24:12, He says, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” Now this word “love” here is very interesting; it’s the verb or word storgē, with the alpha placed in front of it, without love. Most people don’t know this, but there are four kinds of love described in the Bible. First of all is agápē love, self-less love, the type of love that God has for us. Then there’s something called phileo which simply means brotherly kindness. In fact, the city of Philadelphia is called the City of Brotherly Love after this Greek noun, phileo and also the noun adelphos, put those together, Philadelphia, city of brotherly love, never mind the fact that they have one of the biggest murder rates in the world.
Then you have a third kind of love called eros which would be a romantic sort of love, and it’s interesting that Paul never uses any of these words; he uses this fourth word called storgos, astorgos, and it’s speaking of family relationships. What he’s saying is as the last days unfolded and as the church became just like the world there would be a lack of love or affection for close associates or family members. It’s not hard to find evidence of this is it? Jesus chided the Pharisees and the Sadducees because in Mark 7:9-13 they were not taking care of their parents in their old age.
[Mark 7:9-13, “He was also saying to them, ‘You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.  ‘For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’;  but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’  you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother;  thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
They had something called corban where they gave the money that should have gone to their parents to God’s temple and Jesus says you have set aside the Word of God for your traditions. You have forgotten your most basic responsibility which is family love.
I just talked to our people that go from our church, I think on a monthly basis, just across the lawn to that convalescent hospital, just a few feet away, and you hear stories of children who have literally abandoned their parents to die in such a facility, children that don’t even visit their parents any longer. We hear stories of child abandonment, we hear stories of children being left in dumpsters. We have an epidemic, even within the church, of rampant divorce where people don’t even exhibit proper love to their own spouse. And of course the worst case scenario is abortion itself, which is the ultimate act of child abuse.
I can’t tell you how frustrated I am with the political process. I believe there ought to be laws protecting innocent unborn children and almost everywhere I look the candidates are trying to out-abortion the other. I don’t really care what the party platform says; what I care about is what have they done throughout their life in terms of their attitude towards abortion? I look at the frontrunners of the two political parties and on this issue of abortion, whether it’s funding planned parenthood, partial birth abortion, I see very little differences. I fully recognize the party platforms are different, I’m talking about what they believe as candidates and what they do. And people wonder why more and more Christians are being pushed out of the political process. It’s a very frustrating thing to watch but it is an outworking of what Paul says, in the last days there would be this lack of familial affection within the family.
And then he goes on with his fifth alpha privitive and he uses this word called “irreconcilable.” Notice verse 3, “unloving, irreconcilable,” irreconcilable is probably better translated without forgiveness, unforgiving. You do something bad to me, I’ll never forget it and I’ll get you back. That is the spirit of the day. We even have in the field of law a statement that’s common in divorce proceedings called irreconcilable differences. There is such a level of unforgiveness between people that the marriage under the law dissolves.
You know, if you’re a person of unforgiveness and you are in conflict with everybody you come in contact with… I’ll just go ahead and say it, you might want to figure out whether you’re a Christian at all. And if you are a Christian you might also want to figure out this: are you really growing in Christ, because the more you come into the light of the unconditional forgiveness of God and experience His grace, how can we not turn around and dispense that grace to other people? How can I turn around with an attitude of I’m going to get mad and I’m going to get even when I’ve been touched by the grace of God. Such a person, I wonder if they even understand the grace of God. Are they growing in the grace of God? If you are in conflict with everyone you come in contact with, Dr. Toussaint, my professor, put it this way, he said: Look, if someone is in conflict with everyone they’re around they’re probably in conflict with the Lord Himself. We need to look at ourselves and ask ourselves if our relationships are, to use modern vernacular, dysfunctional, maybe our relationship to God is dysfunctional. And this should not be the case for the Christian.
The book of Ephesians, chapter 4 and verse 32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,” why, “just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” We don’t have time to look at it but you might want to read this week Matthew 18:21-35, it’s a story that Jesus told of a man that was alleviated from a financial debt that was very, very expensive. And then he found someone that owed him a few bucks and he demanded that every penny be paid. And the story ends with what hypocrisy is this.
[Matthew 18:21-35, “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’  Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.  ‘When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.  ‘But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.  ‘So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’  ‘And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.  ‘But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’  ‘So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’  ‘But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.  ‘So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.  ‘Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’  ‘And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.  ‘My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.’”]
That’s what we’re like when we hold grudges. That’s what we’re like when we’re unforgiving towards each other. God has forgiven us infinitely and how could I turn around and treat someone else with justice when God has never treated me with justice. He’s treated me with mercy and with grace. Listen, let me let you in on a little secret. Everybody gets hurt; you’re going to be hurt, if you haven’t been by somebody. And is it not time to just let it go? Give it over to God. Do you know who that’s going to help? It’s going to help you more than anybody else. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison thinking my swallowing that poison is going to hurt the person that hurt me. The fact of the matter is the person that hurt you probably doesn’t remember they hurt you and they’ve long gone on with their life. And there you are, there we are, still in a state of bondage because we’ve become unforgiving, having lost sight of the grace of God.
But what do people say? Don’t get mad, get even. Get ‘em back! In fact, even one of the political candidates says if you hit me I’m going to hit you back ten times worse; that’s almost a direct quote. I found this quote from Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson, I believe, was a great man. And this is a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Uriah McGregory, August 13, 1800. And you have to understand what Jefferson went through. Every vile statement that a person could make was hurled at Thomas Jefferson. In fact, it was published in the newspapers that Thomas Jefferson had a sexual relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemmings, and these illegitimate children that he has come from Sally Hemmings. Now this was before the days of DNA evidence; by the way, that myth has been disproven, but there was no DNA evidence to disprove this in Thomas Jefferson’s day. In fact the only evidence they could come up was well, these kids kind of look like you and Sally, they must be illegitimate. What would you do if something like that was said about you? Would you sue them for defamation, slander, liable? Would you take them for every nickel.
This is what Thomas Jefferson writes: “I know that I might have filled the courts of the United States with actions for these slanders, and have ruined perhaps many persons who are not innocent. but this would be no equivalent in the loss of my own character by retaliating against them. I leave them therefore to the reproof of their own consciences. If these do not condemn them, there will yet come a day when the false witness will meet a judge who has not slept over these slanders.”
How we need people like this today in our world. How we need Thomas Jefferson’s. How we need people who are forgiving towards each other, to give people the benefit of the doubt. And if we have been wronged in some sense we say to ourselves, well, if I get in the mud the only difference between me and a pig is the pig likes being in the mud. And I’ll just hand people over to their own consciences and if their own consciences don’t reprove them, God will reprove them one day as they come before Him. Look how different our court system would be. Think how different our churches would be. Think how different our political system would be if we simply got over this mindset of irreconcilability. (That’s a word.)
Now number 6 sort of breaks up the action; it’s not an alpha privitive, people think it’s misplaced but I believe it has not been misplaced. I believe it’s there inserted by Paul intentionally because it describes everything else in the list. It captures the whole idea. Verse 3, “unloving, irreconcilable,” here comes number 6, “malicious gossips,” translated from the Greek word diabolos, you say diabolos, I know something about that, that is the English word translated devil.
Matthew 4:11 says, “Then the devil left him,” the noun “devil” is translated from the Greek noun diabolos, and this is where, I think and why I think Paul inserted this here. When we begin to emulate these alpha privitives we are imitating none other than the devil himself. We begin to take on the very character of Satan when we’re “disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, without self-control, brutal, and haters of good.”
Is that not Satan? It’s sort of like what Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil….” Do you know what the word “devil” (diabolos) actually means? It means slanderer. If you speak it it’s slander; if you put it in print it’s liable, but it deals with speaking untruths about others. This is why the devil is called the accuser of the brethren. He accused Job to God, you remember. Job 1:11, “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” God said to Satan, “Consider My servant Job.” [Job 1:8, “The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”] Satan immediately slandered the man. The only reason that guy serves You God is You bless everything in his life and if you took those blessings away he would curse you to your face, it’s a slander.
Zechariah 3:1 says this: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.” Immediately Satan moves in to accusation mode with Joshua the high priest.
Revelation 12:10 says, “…for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.” [Revelation 12:10, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.’”]
What is Satan’s title? It is “the accuser of the brethren.” How frequently does he operate according to this character trait? Both “day and night.” This is why Jesus said to Peter, Peter, Satan has requested permission to sift you like wheat.” [Luke 22:31, “”Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat…”] In other words, he’s brought, just like with Job, the same accusation against your character. If we’re going around and we’re slandering people and we’re lying about people and we’re assuming the worst in people, let me ask you who we are like? We are like Satan, and we’re actually doing the devil’s work without even realizing it.
This is why, number 6, breaks up the action linguistically because it describes everything else on the list. I’m not even done yet, three more. Three more alpha privitives. This takes us to number 7, without self-control. Going back to verse 3, “unloving, irreconcilable, gossips, without self-control,” it’s better translated “without strength,” strength related to what? Strength related to impulse control. The last days would be characterized by people who do not have the ability to control their most vile impulses.
Road rage, if you’ve seen these You Tube videos of two drivers, one guy cuts the other guy off and I watched this happen on the 59 not too long ago, where these two guys get out of the car and they just start duking it out for the world to see. Is it that serious guys? Why not just take being cut off and call it a bad day? Why do you have to be reduced to a level of violence when you perceive that you’re wrong? Is your appointment that important to get to on time, where you have to resort to physical violence?
Or mass shootings, people walk into schools, they typically target, these cowards, schools or other places where we foolishly place a ban on self-defense and they’re mad about something and they shoot up a whole theater or a whole school full of people because they know they can’t defend themselves. Why? Because they have no control over their impulses. May God help us. Anger, vile speech, gluttony, can you say no to the cupcakes and donuts? That one hurts a little bit, doesn’t it? Sexual impulses, pornography, adultery? I mean, do you understand that God has given the sex drive but it is to be expressed within a particular channel, which is the marital relationship? Or is that desire for sexual contact so powerful that we’re going to just express it no matter where I want to express it?
See, these are all outworking’s of this without strength, “without self-control.” One of the things the Holy Spirit seeks to produce in the child of God is self-control, impulse control. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness,” here it comes, “self-control; against such things there is no law.” If you are a person that lacks self-control in any area I would simply say this: Jesus is not reigning over that area in your life because when somebody comes under the influence of the Holy Spirit they become a person of self-control.
And what an advantage it is to gain self-control. If you’re a person of self-control there’s practically no task in life you cannot accomplish. Proverbs 25:28 puts it this way: “Like a city that is broken down and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Let me tell you something about the Ancient Near East, when this was written. If you had a city but no wall you had no city because you were totally vulnerable. And Solomon writes a person who has no control over his spirit is a completely vulnerable person. You’re open to all sorts of problems that you wouldn’t be open to otherwise: relational problems, work problems, health problems, simply by moving in the direction of impulse control and self-control. And yet people in the last days wouldn’t have self-control.
Number 8, they would become brutal. Notice if you will verse 3, “unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control,” notice this next word, “brutal.” It’s an alpha privitive, it’s better translated “without gentleness.” People would become like untamed beasts in the last days. Think of an animal that just devours its prey with no sense of sympathy, no sense of mercy, no sense of consciousness, no sense of anything other than that animal’s appetite and that, in essence, is what people become like without God.
That’s why I’ve entitled these two sermons The De-Evolution of Man. Man becomes just like the brute beast he was given authority over. You go back to the original design of God and God was to govern Adam and Eve and they were in that marital relationship to govern creation for God. You find that in Genesis 1:26-28 where it says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” [Verse 27, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”] You’ll find the same thing in Genesis 1:28, [“God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”]
You’ll find the exact same statement virtually in Psalm 8:verses 4-8. [Psalm 8:4, “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?  Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!  You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.  All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field,  The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.”] Man was never designed to be like the animals, he was different than the animals. In fact, he was given authority over the animals but you see, you don’t even understand your place in God’s hierarchy when you move away from Him. And we become, morally speaking, just like the animals we were designed to rule over.
You know, Nebuchadnezzar, in the book of Daniel, became an animal for seven years. Why is that? He moved away from God. In fact, in Daniel 4:30-31, “The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’” I mean, he could have built a sky tower with his name at the top.
 “‘While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you.”
Daniel 4:15-16 says, “Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field; and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth.  Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let a beast’s mind be given to him, and let seven periods of time pass over him.”
What did Nebuchadnezzar become? He became an animal. Do you know what the antichrist is called, by the way? The beast! The furthest human being from God will become morally exactly like an animal. I remember as a very young child watching a documentary on Adolf Hitler and it documented his insanity towards the end of his life. And I remember my father saying to me, this is what people become like without God. A great sermon! This is what Paul is saying, they will become brutal; there would be a lack of civility, a lack of respect. Isn’t it interesting how the word “Sir” and “Ma’am” and “please” and “thank you” are disappearing from the American vernacular? Is it not interesting that the idea of a man opening the door for a woman, his wife, is a rarity in American society.
The last one is “haters of good,” verse 3, “unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal,” the last one, the last alpha privitive is “haters of good,” better translated “loathing good.” Not just disagreeing with good but hating good. And is it not interesting how our vocabulary is changing? With deteriorating morals three is a change of vocabulary that goes with it.
Those that have the truth and stand for the truth today are called extremists, narrow minded, right-wing, they might even use the “f” word, fundamentalist, the ultimate insult you can give to someone today. While those that are promoting evil are called broad minded, sophisticated, learned, educated. Abortion we used to call murder, now we call it choice. Extramarital sex we used to call adultery; but now we have a much kinder, gentler name for it, we call it an affair. I mean, having an affair is a lot more easy to say than adultery. Homosexuality, every state in the union had on their books laws against homosexuality. We used to call it sodomy. If you look at Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law which is where our legal code comes from, you’ll find Blackstone calling it a crime against nature.
What’s the vocabulary we used to use, now we call homosexuality a lifestyle choice. I can’t help but think of Isaiah 5:20 which says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; [Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!]” That’s exactly what we’re doing, as we become haters of good vocabulary changes.
I want to close with this prayer. This is a prayer delivered on January 23, 1996, so a good two decades ago, by Pastor Joe Wright to the Kansas House of Representatives. This prayer caused a national stir. It was controversial. And yet it deals with what I am talking about, the shift in vocabulary as morality disintegrates. I’m going to read this prayer to you; it’s not long but it’s so captures the point I’m trying to make here.
He says, ‘Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. Lord, we know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.
We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it moral pluralism. We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbors’ possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our fore-fathers and called it enlightenment. Search us oh God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son, the Living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
That’s a prayer, and the reason of the upheaval it caused is it’s absolutely true. As we have become haters of good we’ve adjusted the vocabulary to accommodate our own wickedness. May God help us to understand this. May God help us to understand that Paul said this would happen, the church even in and of itself would by and large become like this. And yet, Timothy, and by extension us, we are called to stand for God in these troubled times. You say well, how do you do that? Well come back next week and we may be getting into that.
Shall we pray: Father, we are grateful for Your warning and Your Word. Father, we need to wake up and understand what’s happening, and after waking us up we pray that You’ll give us the energy, the power, the moral certainty to live for You and be what you have called us to be until You take us home. Make us people like that here at Sugar Land Bible Church, we’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. I ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said….