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Monday, February 27, 2017

What Are Perilous Times? - Discerning Life

What Are Perilous Times? - Discerning Life

What Are Perilous Times?

Bible speaks of Perilous Times
But What Does it Mean and When?

Surely, we must be living in “perilous times” and “last days” when violence is in every headline! The Christian should turn to the Bible to learn the meaning of these terms; however, the discerning Christians will look behind the vernacular language to understand what the original language meant when it used these terms.
The term, “last days”, refers to the period between Christ’s accession into Heaven and His second coming. The writer of Hebrews gives us this definition when he wrote, “…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (He 1:1-2). Therefore, the current dispensation, First Fruits {often called period of Grace or the Church Age}, encompasses this period. All of the epistles pertain to the “last days” as does the book of Acts. The Gospels, though written in the “last days”, detail the first coming of Christ up to His resurrection. This period precedes the “last days”. Revelation details the culmination of these “last days” and then gives details after this period: Millennial Kingdom and the “new heavens and earth” {what I call eternity future}. It is important to understand this time period because many Christians make the error of believing that the “last days” only refer to the period just before Christ’s return, commonly called the “Great Tribulation”. This period is included in the “last days” but is simply the culmination of this entire period of man’s history.
The English phrase, “perilous times”, is the Greek word, χαλεποί {plural form}. This word occurs from Homer’s time onward and carries the connotation of evil morality, harsh nations and dangerous people.  The word form is only used twice in the Bible (Mt 8:282Ti 3:1). The usage in Matthew refers to the fierceness of the two demonic of Gadarenes. We do not want to make the error of believing that this refers only to people with psychotic issues. This fierceness literally refers to people who lack self-control, itself a “fruit of the Spirit” (Ga 5:22-23). The two demonic were not fierce, out of control, simply because they were demonics, they lacked self-control because they were without salvation.
This speaks to the “total depravity” of each person who is without Christ. This term means that a lost person has no goodness in him, or her, for good only comes from God who is the source of goodness (Mk 10:18). This “depravity” is expressed in varying degrees and various manners in people depending on God’s providence. Though each person has the capacity for being totally violent and depraved, not every person expresses this degree of behavior. The underlying precept is that no lost person can control their behavior because they are not indwell with God’s Spirit {salvation}. The only condition that separates you from a Charles Manson or an Adolf Hitler would be opportunity. Given the proper circumstances each lost person would live down to their lowest potential. Well, the “perilous times” gives mankind those circumstances to live out their depravity.
Our text gives us insight into lost human nature. This sin nature is not unique to these “last days”; however, these times legitimize these character traits (2Ti 3:1-5). The governments and societies of men promote evil over good. How do they do this? The very characteristics of sinful people are promoted in society as desirable. All forms of government promote proud, arrogant people for these are the very ones who seek after and harness power over others. The trait of “lover of pleasure” over “lover of God” is observed everywhere in societies. The Western cultures promote self-pleasure over altruism and certainly over any restraint of those pleasures. This is one of the motivating factors in the legalization of drugs. Society seeks to limit drugs becoming increasingly abusive and arrogant while those who seek only self-gratification will obtain drugs by any means possible to include brutal robberies to temporarily satisfy their unappeasable desires.
These issues are not new to modern societies nor to even these “last days”. The ancient cultures were renowned for their brutality. The Old Testament details how women would eat their own infants rather than starve during a siege (2Ki 6:26-29). So, what makes these times different? God is allowing man to “enjoy” his “freedom” from God, in slow increments (Ro 1:18-25). Since man has rejected the truth of God and refuses to bow to the knowledge of God, substituting his own philosophy and religions for the truth of God, God has allowed him to enjoy the results of his decisions. This has been an ongoing process, accelerating at a faster pace as the “Day of the Lord” approaches (2Th 2:1-12). God has not done this in meanness but in grace. When confronted with their depravity some will repent and seek God’s salvation. Most though will remain in their sin desiring to do what comes “natural” (Ro 3:10-18). They do not want the knowledge of the Lord nor do they fear the Lord.
If God were the “bully” as the world portrays then He would severely punish those who reject Him. Yet, He does not do this. He allows those who reject Him to reject Him. This degradation in their morality occurs as they move further from the truth of God. This results in greater violence and degradation. This becomes a positive feedback loop resulting in further rejection of God, degradation of morality and increasingly personal and societal violence. Man wants freedom and God gives him freedom, not forcing Himself on mankind. In fact, the only people God forces Himself on are those whom He saves out of the world for reasons known only to Himself (Ro 9:14-24). Sinful man has demanded a life without God. Modern society demands freedom from religion, freedom from God. God allows them this space. But, it is like a callous, the more you aggravate that part of the skin, the bigger the callous, the less feeling one possesses at the site of thee callous. Man sins, God allows man to sin, man’s conscience becomes less sensitive to that sin (guilt), man sins more freely with the conscience becoming increasingly less guilty until there is no feeling or guilt at all. Man gets to act as he wishes which is lovers of money and self, proud, arrogant, abusive, ungrateful, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, brutal and lacking self-control.
Man tries to cover up the rewards of his sin by wearing the appearance of godliness. Man embraces gentleness, goodness, love, harmony and so forth based on his own religions and philosophies. However, these are merely outward shows of hypocrisy that are easily cast away revealing the raging hatred against God. In modern times with modern devices this general hatred of God has infected every culture and though these cultures are at war with each other, they are united in their hatred. There is no refuge from these “perilous times”. Satan is working behind the scenes with man to bring about the utopia man has always wanted: a world without God! There will be no peaceful utopia but only death, destruction and hatred against God and those who identify with God. Christians are the single most persecuted people in the world today. You will not read this in any headline. You will not hear this from your pulpit, usually. Only by steeping yourself in the Scriptures and prayer will you maintain your relationship with Christ. This issue is not that He will abandon you; the issue is that you may abandon Him (Lk 18:8).