Also available as MP3: The Definition of Evil – 2 Timothy 3:13-15
The mass shootings we’ve been seeing are evil, but the evil that will wax worse (v.13) in the last days (3:1) is the kind associated with “seducers” (v.15). Religious seducers who have a form of godliness (v.5) and seduce people spiritually by creeping into their houses by means of Christian radio, TV, the internet, etc. (v.6). That means our last days will be different than Israel’s last days, when God’s opponents won’t creep into your house to seduce your spiritual life, they’ll bash your door in take your physical life (Mt.24:9).
The reason Paul says seducers will wax “worse” in the last days is because that’s what Satan’s been doing during this entire dispensation, seducing people (II Cor.11:13-15). I Peter 5:8 is what he’ll be doing in the Tribulation, not today. Today Satan is an angel of light, and his ministers are ministers of righteousness. There’s nothing deceptive about a roaring lion!
Paul says in the last days religious charlatans will be “deceiving, and being deceived” (3:13). In time past God said both were His (Job 12:16) because if a prophet was deceived God deceived him (Ezek. 14:9). He did this to make sin worse so He could punish them (14:9,10). Their sin was the “pollution” (14:11) of idols (cf. Ezek. 20:31,39; 23:30) so God judged them by letting them be carried captive to Babylon, a land of idols, so they’d get sick of idols.
But here we have a dispensational difference. God is not deceiving religious leaders so He can judge us. He corrects our sin with grace, not judgment (Titus 2:11,12). He doesn’t judge us for our sin, He reminds us that He judged Christ for our sins. If that doesn’t constrain you to live for the Lord nothing will (II Cor. 5:14,15).
This is why when Paul goes on to tell Timothy what to do when evil men and seducers get worse, he doesn’t tell him to deceive people with error! He tells him to “continue” in the things he learned from Paul (II Tim. 3:14). That’s the cure for the seductions of religious hucksters, as Timothy had been “assured” (v.14).
But how had Timothy been assured of the things he learned from Paul? God assured people of things in different ways. When they killed the Lord, they perhaps thought He could never judge them as He said He would (John 5:22). But God “assured” them He’d judge them by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30,31).
How would that assure Timothy that Paul’s message was true? Well, Paul preached salvation through Christ, and just like a dead judge can’t judge men, a dead Savior can’t save them! When Paul preached a risen Savior, that proved his message was true.
Paul’s manner of life assured the Thessalonians his message was true (I Thes. 1:5) when he didn’t quit in the face of adversity (I Th. 2:1,2), didn’t deceive or flatter men as others did (2:3-5), didn’t seek their money as others (2:6) and didn’t bully them as others (2:7,8). His personal testimony also gave them this assurance (2:10), and that’s an assurance you can give others that Paul’s message was true as well! All these things assured Timothy as well, plus how he saw the grace Paul preached working in his life.
But Timothy needed more than Paul’s message to combat religious seducers. Paul reminds him that he also knew the Old Testament as well (3:15). When he says the OT made him wise to salvation, that sounds like he was saved by reading the OT before he met Paul, but Paul was his father (I Tim. 1:2) not just his teacher (cf. I Cor. 4:15).
When Paul said the Old Testament Scriptures “are able to make the wise unto salvation,” he was referring to a salvation that they could still make Timothy “wise” to (Ps. 19:7).In context, he was talking about being saved from religious seduction. We need a whole Bible to resist that!
This salvation comes “through faith which is in Christ” (3:15). Not faith in Christ, not our faith in Him. Faith which is in Christ, His faithfulness (cf. Rom. 3:3). Deceivers will always say you have to be faithful to God to stay saved. The thing that will save you from that is remembering Christ is faithful to you!