By Roy Burner (Minister of the Gospel)
This know that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1). The last days began with the birth of Christ and will end in Christ's return to set up His kingdom. The prediction of perilous times reveals what will occur in the final days of the church age:
Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous (or money lovers), boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedience to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent (without self-control), fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady (reckless), high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away (2 Timothy 3:2-5).
And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men, and seducers shall wax (grow) worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-13).
We are seeing these characteristics manifested! Warning has been given that one might prepare for the onslaughter of such and to fortify themselves. When an enemy evades; one takes action to defend that which is rightly theirs.
Scripture reveals: Finally, my brethren (the church), be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might (Ephesians 6:10). The spiritual battle Christians are engaged in exists "from now on" until the Lord's return; in the meanwhile we are strengthened by His mighty power.
PUT ON the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (devices) of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). A Bible commentary noted: Put on issues a sense of urgency, demanding immediate action, that one be not found defenseless of what God has provided for the saints of God.
FOR WE wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). One must recognize where their attack originates from.
WHEREFORE TAKE unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all to stand (Ephesians 6:13). The evil day refers to the demonic onslaughter and satanic assaults. Having done all is by putting on the armor provided by God to resist attacks of opposition.
STAND THEREFORE having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparations of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (Ephesians 6:14-16).
A Bible commentary noted: The whole armor of God consists of six pieces:
TRUTH being the knowledge of God's Word. The Christian's armor depends on, and is held in place by a spiritual belt, or knowledge of the truth of Scripture.
BREASTPLACE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS represents a holy character and moral conduct. Obedience of such produces a godly life.
PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE means a willingness that comes from the gospel of peace. The gospel gives peace to the believer, freeing him from any anxiety through the advance of a powerful opponent.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH is taking God by His Word and believing His promises. Such trust will protect one from doubts induced by the enemy.
THE HELMET OF SALVATION is the certainty "or assurance" of salvation.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD refers to the whole Word of God.
These six pieces of armor are essential for the waged war against righteousness being experienced in these last days. It has grown more fierce and intensified in many nations of the world; while just blossoming forth in others.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18) can be linked to stand. Prayer is indispensable. Always means on every occasion without slacking off thinking the need has vanished.
When I was in Vietnam the enemy would fire rockets; then Cobra gunships would immediately circle overhead to spot their positions. For a time this surveillance continued and then gradually slacked off. When surveillance ceased the enemy would fire rockets again! I seen this time after time while in Vietnam. Prayer must be continuous; even when the presence of the enemy is not being experienced.
In the Spirit signifies God's Spirit's divine help; not only for ourselves but for all saints of God. Spiritual warfare is both an individual and corporate matter. Scripture reveals: So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard (banner) against him (Isaiah 59:19).
God assured whose battle it was, in saying: Hearken you, all Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat, Thus said the Lord to you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude: for the battle is not yours but God's (2 Chronicles 20:15).
Jesus said: You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things much come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers (various) places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another (Matthew 24:6-10). And because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many shall wax (grow) cold. But he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come (Matthew 24:12-14). Many of these characteristics, mentioned as perilous times and the beginning of sorrows, are already in evidence in many nations of the world.
The Apostle Paul wrote: Who can separate us from the love of Christ (reference to perilous times): Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter (Romans 8:35-36).
Then came a resounding answer of faith: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).
Perilous times may come knocking at the door; for those who love Christ and stand for the truths of God's Word, but such are not defeated, nor separated from that love simply because of oppression, suffering, and at times even death itself, when one is anchored in their source of their salvation - the Lord Jesus Christ!
The Apostle Paul noted perilous times in his own life: Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save (minus) one, Thrice (three) times was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and day I have been in the deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters, of robbers, by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in the city, in the wilderness, in the sea, among false brethren (2 Corinthians 11:24-26).
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in distresses, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). Thank God for His strengthen power during perilous times; that one can be as the Apostle Paul, who was told of the Lord: My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Paul's response: Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities (weaknesses), that the power of Christ may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Many nations have not the freedom of open worship, or even proclaiming the name of Jesus publicly, but this has not stemmed the growth of Christianity; rather promoted its growth! However, as the world gives way to immorality, ungodliness, and unrighteousness, it opens the door towards persecution of believers in Christ.
Scripture reveals: Moreover the law entered, that the offense (sin) might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20)! Perilous times, in which sin abounds, should not be a discouragement towards one's struggling in such an environment.
Scripture tells of Lot's deliverance from such an environment who was vexed (troubled) with the filthy conversation (conduct) of the wicked. For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed (tormented) his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds (2 Peter 2:7-8). It also reveals that Lot was delivered, and his household, from those troublesome times.
Jesus said: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27). Jesus' love and peace are real, in the life of a believer, even in the midst of perilous times, when one casts all their cares upon him; for he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
The 23rd Psalm has consoling words for the believer: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (lack). He makes me to lie down in green pastures (pastures of tender green grass): he leads beside the still waters (waters of rest). He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness or his name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy (loving-kindness) shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
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