Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 50:11-51:14 / 2 Timothy 3:1-17 / Psalm 119:89-96
Christmas is my most favorite time of the year. I have wonderful childhood memories of church Christmas programs, Christmas Eve at my grandparent’s house, my father reading the Christmas story, Christmas tree decorations and the cardboard fireplace! It was a brick fireplace replica and simply used as a decoration…adding Christmas ambiance and character to the room.
We hung stockings on it but we couldn’t warm ourselves by its fire. It only gave the appearance that it was real. I thought of that cardboard fireplace when I read Paul’s description of the “Last Days”. The last days are not a time in the far away future. In reality, the last days began when Jesus ascended to heaven and announced He would return in like manner. We are living in the last days but as we draw closer to His return; times will become increasingly terrible and godless.
After an exhaustive list of ungodly characteristics, Paul sums up man’s last day lifestyle as, “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5) Men will have an outward appearance and resemblance of godliness but that is as far and as deep as it goes. They look the part and even act the part but are only actors living a spiritual masquerade lifestyle.
God described Israel as drawing near to Him with their words and honoring Him with lip service but their hearts were far from Him. Last day men will have external piety but internal wickedness. Their unholy heart is of no value to God. He will not accept external morality that conceals internal impurity. The power of godliness must work within because God will not accept anything less.
A form of religion…we see that becoming more prevalent in our culture today. Man may talk a “good game” but their lifestyle is far from their message. They will give an appearance that they are driven by love for others but they will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, lovers of pleasure…not lovers of good or lovers of God.
So it will be of men during the last days yet they will use their hypocrisy not simply for their gain but also for the destruction of Christ’s church. These men are dangerous and deceptive. They present a persuasive message but it is empty of power and experience, leading seekers away from the truth of God’s Word.
Our eyes are to be open and hearts discerning to the deceptiveness that grows with every passing day. We must be people who live a life of godliness, have a heart relationship with Christ and walk in spiritual power. There will be plenty of cardboard fireplaces of religion in the last days. The world must see the real fire of the Holy Spirit radiating from our lives…. God promises to pour out His Spirit in the Last Days!
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!