Many would agree that we are living in the last days. But how many comprehend the tremendous responsibility which accompanies such understanding?
Paul warns us in 2 Timothy 3:1-4: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money… unloving, unforgiving, slanderers… brutal… headstrong… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…”
Of course, many might say, this only describes the people in this evil world–it does not address conditions in the Church of God. And they even reason that they are true “Philadelphia” Christians, who have endured and overcome, and who are loved by God and will find protection from the great tribulation (Revelation 3:9-10). They are convinced that the biblical warnings to lukewarm “Laodicea” Christians or the world at large only apply to others.
Many who are claiming to be part of the body of Christ say that “they”–and “only they”–are Philadelphia Christians, perhaps without fully realizing that “Philadelphia” means “brotherly love.” They may feel and even proclaim that it is the other Christians who are the “poor, blind and naked” Laodiceans (Revelation 3:17). Christ warned of such self-deception–especially when we think that we are spiritually “wealthy, and have need of nothing” (same verse). Paul says that “he who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Those who uphold self-righteous positions of glorying in themselves, while despising and condemning others (Luke 18:9), lack what is tantamount to being a true and zealous Christian–brotherly or “Philadelphia” love and, what is even more important, godly love. The Bible calls this godly love “agape” love, which God has poured in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). We can only have godly love if Christ, through His Spirit, lives in us. Paul challenges us to examine ourselves whether Christ really LIVES in us (2 Corinthians 13:5). If He does, we will love our fellow man; otherwise, we are not even of God (1 John 3:10; compare John 5:42).
As we are living in the last days, we must be very careful that we are not being affected by the ungodly and unloving world around us (1 John 2:15). Christ tells self-righteous and spiritually blind Laodicean Christians to repent of their sins and to become zealous (Revelation 3:19). Otherwise, Christ will vomit them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). They will cease to be His disciples, because of their lack of godly love (John 13:35).
Could this include you? Examine yourself! Do you love God and your fellow man, or just yourself and worldly pleasures which you want to enjoy? Are you diligent in excelling in technical aspects of God’s law, but neglecting to manifest the love of God in your life (Luke 11:42)? Are you willing to forgive, or are you unforgiving and unloving, quick to slander and to condemn others (Matthew 6:14-15; compare James 4:11-12)?
Could Christ be warning you, when He describes the spiritual condition of His Church in the end time? Notice: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). Christ refers here to godly “agape” love. Since only those in whom God’s Spirit dwells have such godly love, Christ is addressing Church members–those who have received God’s Spirit and with it the love of God, but who allow the love of God to GROW cold! And unless they repent or change and become again zealous to renew and use God’s love in them, Christ will vomit them out of His mouth!
We are living in perilous and serious times–and it is high time to awake out of sleep (Romans 13:11). “Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). Let us make every effort to use powerfully God’s love in us. “For this IS the love of God that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3)–and with God’s love in us, we are fulfilling His law (Romans 13:10) and do not sin (1 John 3:4). Paul is not giving us this warning for nothing: “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34).