By Steven M. McCalip
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As we approach the last days before the Lord’s return, I have begun to notice a marked increase in the lack of love shown by man, whether it be neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, employee to employer, child to parent, or the many other relationships we enter into every day. Just simple courtesy and kindness overall seems almost absent these days. It got me thinking, for it seems in these perilous times we are in that people nowadays just don’t care about others near as much. Then came to mind several scriptures that kept repeating themselves to me about these very conditions and what we could expect in the coming years. Though this might sound quite negative and not “upbeat,” it is, nevertheless, necessary to point out because it shows us the times we are living in and what to prepare for. It shows me that we are near the end, especially when I consider the characteristics Paul gave us of the last days, the “perilous times” that he outlines in 2 Timothy 3. Though some of these characteristics might apply to other generations, I don’t think many would argue that all of these apply to this one. It is a scary thing, yet it is an exciting thing also knowing that the return of the Lord can’t be far off.
My purpose in this essay is not to go over every thing in the list in 2 Timothy, but to point out the overall theme of a love that has waxed cold as scripture said it would in the last days. I started thinking about that love waxing cold and how it progresses even worse to a point of being “past feeling” as scripture describes it. I also remembered that people can reach a point of their consciences being “seared with a hot iron.” All of these “stages” got me curious as to the causes and characteristics of each. I will go through a progression here, showing that a sinner’s lack of love starts in the inordinate love of our “selves,” and next moves to a lack of “natural affection.” Afterwards, our love reaches the stage of “waxing cold.” Then, our love goes “past feeling,” digressing to “vile affections,” and finally, our conscience becomes “seared with a hot iron.”
Stage 1: Becoming “lovers of their own selves”
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholyÂ 2 Tim. 3:1-2
Paul outlines for us over 20 major characteristics of the last days that he calls “perilous times.” Just before Jesus returns and before the antichrist comes to power, the first thing on this list given in Timothy is that men shall be “lovers of their own selves.” Selfishness and “what have you done for me lately” is the prevailing norm. “Looking out for number one” is the mantra of the day. People don’t seem to care about the plight of others these days as they have in years gone by. If they do, it’s few and far between and getting worse by the day.
Of course, we are brainwashed in this country to love ourselves as the solution to all our problems. Even so-called Christian ministers are saying the same things the world is saying with all their “self-esteem” philosophies, “feel-good,” “cotton-candy” Christianity that is being promoted by the world and the pulpits today. Everywhere you go the panacea is to help yourself, love yourself, feel good about yourself, and if you can’t do that, go to some seminar that will teach you how to. Just make sure and pay the cover charge. We are told that our main problem is that if we don’t love ourselves enough, we can’t love others. That couldn’t be more false. If we don’t have God, who scripture says is love, we can’t love others.Â The world and the “church” have it backwards. The more we concentrate on loving ourselves, the less we will love others. We simply won’t love others because we will spend so much time “improving” ourselves that we won’t love others as we are commanded.
We naturally love ourselves (see my article Self-Esteem: “How Great Thou Art Not”). We don’t need to learn how to love ourselves; we do it anyway. We need to love others and learn how to do that by loving God. Scripture calls it a perilous timeÂ because we are so enamored with ourselves that we can’t stop loving ourselves long enough to take care of others. Becoming a lover of your own self leads you down the slippery slope that is being outlined in this article. It’s next logical step is to become “without natural affection,” and if you are on the “love yourself” bandwagon, you are setting yourself up for degradation you may not even know is coming.
Stage 2:Â “without natural affection”
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,Â 2 Tim. 3:3
The complete breakdown of the family in these last days is evidence that we aren’t even showing “natural affection” to our loved ones. Divorce is rampant, and children are tossed around like possessions to be bartered over. Wives and husbands trade each other in like they would a used car. The love that it takes to keep a family together is sacrificed on the altar of convenience and money. Many animals take care of their young better than some families who neglect their children. It is only natural for a parent to show affection to his children. But even that affection in these perilous times is becoming more and more rare. Just look at how we treat babies in the womb. We take better care of our pets, and we even pass laws against abusing them.
Where is the “natural affection” between a mother and a father for their unborn child if they are ripping that baby out of the womb and murdering it? Is “murder” too strong a word for you? Does abortion make it more palatable? How about baby killers? How about the label genocide for the over 1 million babies that are murdered each year in this country. We like to think we have “natural affection,” but even if you haven’t participated in this horrible act of murder, the fact that you agree with it (if you do of course) shows your complete lack of “natural affection” for your child or others who have done this atrocity.
People start to lose “natural affection” when they become lovers of their own selves as shown previously. They aren’t showing natural affection because they are too busy loving themselves, worshipping themselves, caring about themselves and no one else. If they do care about others, it is just to meet their own selfish wants. If you feel that your love for your children, wife, or family is beginning to fade, it could be the result of you losing “natural affection” for them. It is certainly worth considering if you were already practicing the love of yourself and exalting it.
Stage 3:Â “the love of many shall wax cold”
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Matt. 24:10-12
Everywhere you look these days, you see evidence that the love of many is waxing cold. Whether it’s your neighbors, your acquaintenances, your best friend, your co-workers, your family, or others, people in general (there are exceptions) just don’t seem to care about you anymore. I have neighbors that live across the street that couldn’t tell you my name or my children’s names. I have neighbors that don’t come outside and talk to anyone even when you say “hello” to them. They have nothing to say. They are reaching the stage of becoming “past feeling” as we shall see next. I have personally experienced close family and the closest of friends’ love waxing cold, and it is an amazing thing to behold. It’s almost as if they don’t even know you anymore. Their love is so distant and removed, and you ask yourself how they can call themselves Christians. They can’t. A broken heart will love where a hard heart can’t or won’t.
When I deal with people like this, I remind myself that the reason scripture says that their love is waxing cold is the abundance of sin in their lives: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” God is love, and let’s not be fooled for a second by the fake love that is shown by the world, the pagans and the religious people. If you aren’t born again, you don’t have the love of God. It is that simple. You can mimic it, and the churches can teach you how to do that down to a fine science. But let us not be hoodwinked into all this false love being shown today. It is all for selfish gain.
Jude addresses this issue and puts in your face like only he can: “having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” Men and women that are lost admire you only to take advantage of you, only to get gain out of it. Their love has waxed cold, and for us to believe their love is real is not showingÂ godly discernment. True love is shown and known by a child of God. It is easily recognizable by saints, but it is not by them who aren’t. His sheep know his voice, and they know their brothers and sisters in the Lord. They can be fooled but will eventually find the false brethren out.
It is when you have waxed cold that you are approaching the point of no return, and that could be when you are “past feeling.” A love that has waxed cold will regress so cold that it will reach the stage of being “past feeling.” The coldness will numb their love to the point now that love can’t even be felt, much less shown. What a frightening thing to happen, yet this is what happens typically to every sinner who advances down this road to hell.
Stage 4:Â Becoming “past feeling.”
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; Eph. 4:18-20
Notice that it is said that these people have “given themselves over” to sin. They are responsible for their actions as opposed to the Calvinist who will say that they were not elect and given grace, and that is why they did this. No, they did it because they chose to do it and could have chosen not to do it. If they could choose to give themselves over to sin, they could choose to give themselves over to Jesus Christ.
But there comes a time in sinners’ lives that the wages of sin becomes so great that they can’t “feel” anymore. They are “past feeling.” Their feelings are becoming a thing of the past, and people that try to appeal to those feelings don’t even affect them. They just don’t care anymore. That is a scary thing. That is the kind of mindset that will lead people to do crazy things, commit vile acts, and do unthinkable evils. People always wonder how all this gets started, yet scripture tells us how the mind progressively degrades.
The Lord Jesus can break through all these barriers of course, but the further a sinner goes down this dark road, the more risk he is taking that he will never call out to God with his whole heart. People don’t know their own “point of no return,” so it behooves them to recognize early on what is happening and repent as soon as possible. Now is always the time; now is always the day of salvation.
Stage 5: Going after “vile affections”
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient…
What is really interesting to me about this passage is the reason why God gave these people up to “vile affections”: they “changed the truth of God into a lie…For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections.” Changing the truth of God and making lies out of it is why God gave these people over to “vile affections.” God did not give people up to vile affections because they weren’t “elect” and chosen as deluded Calvinists think. Just look at how serious it is to change God’s truth into a lie. Just look at the consequences of taking the word of God like so many do and twisting it and perverting it to suit their own purposes. Lesbianism, sodomy, beastiality-all of these acts are connected with changing the truth of God into a lie. Secondly, these people “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.”
This brings us full circle to the beginning of this study where I mentioned that the love of one’s self was what started this whole downward spiral of decadence. This love of self regressed to a worship of self,Â man, and creatures, but not the Creator. A love of self is the beginning and cause of all of this.
Stage 6: Ending up with a “conscience seared”
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 1 Tim. 4:1-2
And now we reach the final stage of sin and its effects on the human mind and body. The sinner that began practicing self love and neglecting natural affections caused his love to wax cold. Once that happened, becoming “past feeling” was inevitable. That paves the way for vile affections that also lays the foundation for a conscience that gets seared with a hot iron.
It is that “searing” that is the frightful thing, for if the mind and conscience is seared, I believe that teaches a sinner will never come to God from that point on. He has no conscience to hear the pricks of God in his heart anymoreÂ because he himself has allowed it to get “seared.” Scripture teaches that we have a conscience, for even the Pharisees, who were wicked, showed that they had one that was not seared yet: “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience , went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” (John 8:9).
One of the conscience’s other main duties besides convicting us is bearing witness to the word of God whether we believe those words or not. Romans 2:15 demonstrates this: “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” This is why the vile affections that men gave themselves over to was so critical as mentioned above. After men changed the truth of God, the word of God, to a lie, that begins the process of searing the conscience, for it is the conscience that contains “the work of the law written in their hearts.” The conscience bears witness to the work of the law written in our hearts. It is the Christian’s duty to recognize if the conscience of the lost is receiving the witness of the word of God. We never know exactly when a person’s conscience is “seared,” so it would be presumptuous to speculate.
What started this whole chain reaction is the fact that “iniquity shall abound” according to Jesus. Iniquity abounding is why the heathen’s love waxes cold. Remember that we are not talking about a Christian’s love waxing cold and getting his conscience seared. A Christian has the love of God shed abroad in his heart, and that love will always manifest itself in one way or the other. It cannot be taken out, for God is love, and God cannot be taken out of the heart and mind of a Christian. It is the love of Jesus Christ, and only the love of Jesus Christ, that can break the cold, callous hearts that are past feeling. It is the love of Jesus Christ, and only the love of Jesus Christ, that can penetrate a heart that has given itself over to vile affections. And it is the love of God that works through us to reach those that can see God working in our hearts.
Jesus told us how men can see the love of God: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). God’s love is shown to the world by our unique love for the brethren and by our love for the lost. And it is the callous and cold-hearted that, despite their dreadful condition, can be given a new heart and show the mighty power of God to change the human heart. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). It is God’s perfect love that overcomes the hardest hearts.
Oh love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Make us whole
There is a love that never fails
There is a healing that always prevails
There is a hope that whispers a vow
A promise to stay while we’re working it out
So come with your love and wash over us
“When It Was Over” by Sara Groves
November 7th, 2008 at 10:00 pm