2 Tim 3:1 But understand~~ this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
There is a sense of urgency as Paul writes about the “last days,” the entire period of the church age since the resurrection of Christ until the Rapture.
This period will lead into the seven years of the great tribulation (Rev 4–19) and the unhindered rise to power of the antichrist as he attempts to destroy all who claim to follow God’s word. The deceived world will worship him as God (2 Thes 2:3–4). Believers are to “continuously understand” the implications of the last days of the church age.
Throughout the church age, “the secret power of lawlessness [has been] already at work” (2 Thes 2:7). Millions have been killed and persecuted merely for daring to follow the commands of Scripture.
In Damned through the Church, John W. Montgomery (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1973), quoted by John MacArthur, Jr., Second Timothy, Chicago: Moody, 1995, p. l04), describes seven “damnable epochs of church history” from the beginning of the church to the present: (1) sacramentalism, when the church replaced God; (2) rationalism, when reason became a god; (3) orthodoxism, when God was sterile and impersonal; (4) politicism, when the state was a god; (5) ecumenism, when there was uncritical fellowship and cooperation among nominal Christians; (6) experientialism, when our personal experiences became our god; and (7) subjectivism, when feeling and self became our god. This latter period emphasizes mysticism, or determining truths about God by intuition, feeling, and pragmatism.
Paul said to Timothy, “The Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Tim 4:1–2).
Jesus described these days: “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt 24:12). From the ascension until Jesus’s return, there were to be periods of great danger for true believers. Things are not going to get better and better, but dangerous times will come and go. The wise believer knows the signs of the times and decides to live for His kingdom no matter what may come.
“In every generation since You came, it has been difficult to follow Your instructions for living, but I want to be part of the ‘company of the unashamed.’”