Misplaced Loves – 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Misplaced Loves – 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Do we really love like we should? What and how we love tells what kind of people we are. According to our text, one of the signs of the last times is the manifestation of misplaced love. God created us with a capacity to know and love Him. That was soon perverted in Eden, as Genesis 3 and 4 record, and has only gotten worse in the ensuing ages. This sinful disposition, like a cancer, cannot become something good.

When the inspired prophet Isaiah began writing, he was moved to point out right away the terrible inner condition of the ‘sinful nation” (Isa. 1:4) of Israel, the elect nation. ‘the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” (v. 5). The sick head indicates the defective thought life: we don’t think rightly. The faint heart indicates weakness and failings in the emotions and will: we don’t love rightly. People tend to think that love solves all problems, but they fail to realize that not all love is good, and love doesn’t solve everything or make all right. For example, we read, “But king Solomon loved many strange women” (1 Ki. 11:1). God had expressly forbidden it, but Solomon abused God’s favor and did as he pleased. How many have followed in his steps over the centuries? ‘Solomon clave unto these in love” (1 Ki. 11:2). And what happened? “And his wives turned away his heart” (1 Ki. 11: 3-4). “And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord” (1 Ki. 11:6). It all started with misplaced, illicit, disobedient, unholy love. Satan is a master strategist. Control the heart and you control the person. What more deceptive way to gain entrance to the citadel than through love? And our Lord warned in Matthew 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” The Lord demands first place in our affections, and He is worthy. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30).

Paul describes to Timothy the “perilous times” (Gr. chalepos) that prevail in the last days. They are marked by three wrong loves, three misplaced loves. There is plenty of love, but all the wrong kinds. Love is not a feeling, but a commitment, a value placed on something/ someone, an esteem. We don’t “fall in love” as Hollywood has duped many into thinking. It isn’t getting smitten with a feeling or impulse. It is a spiritual virtue meant to be used for God’s glory and our blessing.

Verse 2 speaks of “lovers of their own selves.” Truly this is the root of most if not all of the other sins. Selfish love says “me first,” “look out for number one.”The pervasive influence of psychology and sociology has reached levels never before seen. In one generation teachers changed from calling‘self- love”a sin (egotism), to an ingredient necessary for a normal life. In June, 1976 Intervarsity Press published a book by Walter Trobisch entitled Love Yourself. This opened the way for a spate of books on self- image, depression, etc. in which psychology and philosophy were popularized among Christians. None of this is substantiated by Scripture, but it is hard for fallen human nature to resist. But self- occupation is like entering a house of mirrors with a labyrinth of hundreds of distorted images. The theme is “me first”, “my rights,” “my feelings,” “my opinion,” etc. Even professing Christians refuse advice, counsel and instruction saying, “It’s my life,” forgetting that they have been bought with a price and they are not their own (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Individualism is seen everywhere, and in the church this makes fellowship and the task of shepherding more difficult than ever. Marriages suffer, parent-child relations, friendships and even business partnerships, for self-love proves to be destructive rather than edifying.

Verse 2 also warns that men will be “covetous” (lit. lovers of silver). 1 Timothy 6:10 identifies the love of money to be the root of all kinds of evil. People will do for love of money what they wouldn’t do for love of God. And some will even preach and serve if the money’s right. Some spend more time on the stock market and their investment portfolio than they do in the Bible. Their first waking thought is money-related. Again, it is hard for human nature not to be attracted by money and its power, the things it can buy, the pleasure it can provide and the people it can influence. Someone has said that money is the universal passport to everywhere but heaven. We can’t take it with us, either, but some won’t part with it until they die. It’s the only friend they have left, and a poor one at that.

In verse 4 we have the third misplaced love, “lovers of pleasure.” Some count it pleasure to riot in the day time (2 Pet. 2:13). James accuses the rich, “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter” (Jas. 5:5). It is common to take pleasure vicariously in the sins of others (Rom. 1:32). We wouldn’t commit certain sins, perhaps, but we are entertained by stories of others committing them. A few, like Moses, by faith choose “rather tosufferafflictionwiththepeopleof God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25). Sin can bring temporary pleasure, and this is its attraction, but the end is bitter. Many today live hedonistic lives –that is– devoted to the pursuit and enjoyment of pleasure. It’s just another form of ‘self-ism.” Drinking, partying, carousing, sports, romance, sex, computer games and console games such as Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo. Even such things as music, food, flowers, and pets are among the many things that people love, pursue and live for. Who can count the total hours, money and energy spent on these?

And the most condemning phrase follows immediately: “more than lovers of God,” or more literally, “lovers of pleasure instead of lovers of God.” As evangelicalism has become increasingly shallow and worldly, entertainment, programs and activities have become more important than God to many. Music has become the focal point instead of Christ and Scripture in many places. God has been replaced. He is on the lips but not in the heart (Isa. 29:13). He is there in theory, yes, but in practice, in day-to-day life self, money and pleasure occupy the citadel of the heart. All of life is affected. It cannot be otherwise. And so the perilous times have come; they are upon us. We are living in the last days foretold by the apostle Paul.

These misplaced loves, and all the other sins named in verses 1-5 are nothing new. They have always been in our fallen world. So what makes these last days “perilous times”? Verse 5 gives the answer. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” In the last days, the sins and misplaced loves of verses 2-4 have moved into the church, into Christendom: “having a form of godliness.” Now as never before in history people can live in self-love, avarice, worldly pleasures and manifest all the other sins here named, and still call themselves “Christians.” No one is questioned, because we mustn’t judge, we’re told. They can manifest these traits and be in fellowship in many churches. What was once in the world is now in the church, destroying it from the inside. Careless evangelistic work, false professions and a lack of discernment have united to produce the conditions for the perfect storm, ‘the falling away” spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, and the revealing of the man of sin.

May the Lord help us to identify and expel from our lives any love that occupies our hearts instead of the Lord Jesus Christ. God deserves the first and best in our lives, not just on Sundays, but every day, all the time. “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ” (2 Th. 3:5).

 

To be continued

 

 

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