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3. Godlessness in the Last Days

1But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away. 6For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, 7ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8And even as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth. Men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith. 9But they shall proceed no further. For their folly shall be evident unto all men, as theirs also came to be. 10But thou didst follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, 11persecutions, sufferings. What things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. 15And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. 17That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.

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12 And all who wish to live a godly life 186186     “Et tous ceux aussi qui veulent vivre en la crainte de Dieu.” — “And all those also who wish to live in the fear of God.” Having mentioned his own persecutions, he likewise adds now, that nothing has happened to him which does not await all the godly. 187187     “Que rien ne luy est advenu que tous fideles ne doyvent aussi attendre.” — “That nothing has happened to him which all believers must not also look for.” And he says this, partly that believers may prepare themselves for submitting to this condition, and partly that good men may not view him with suspicion on account of the persecutions which he endures from wicked persons; as it frequently happens that the distresses to which men are subjected lead to unfavorable opinions concerning them; for he whom men regard with aversion is immediately declared by the common people to be hated by God.

By this general statement, therefore, Paul classes himself with the children of God, and, at the same time, exhorts all the children of God to prepare for enduring persecutions; for, if this condition is laid down for “all who wish to live a godly life in Christ,” they who wish to be exempt from persecutions must necessarily renounce Christ. In vain shall we endeavor to detach Christ from his cross; for it may be said to be natural that the world should hate Christ even in his members. Now hatred is attended by cruelty, and hence arise persecutions. In short, let us know that we are Christians on this condition, that we shall be liable to many tribulations and various contests.

But it is asked, Must all men be martyrs? for it is evident that there have been many godly persons who have never suffered banishment, or imprisonment, or flight, or any kind of persecution. I reply, it is not always in one way that Satan persecutes the servants of Christ. But yet it is absolutely unavoidable that all of them shall have the world for their enemy in some form or other, that their faith may be tried and their steadfastness proved; for Satan, who is the continual enemy of Christ, will never suffer any one to be at peace during his whole life; and there will always be wicked men that are thorns in our sides. Moreover, as soon as zeal for God is manifested by a believer, it kindles the rage of all ungodly men; and, although they have not a drawn sword, yet they vomit out their venom, either by murmuring, or by slander, or by raising a disturbance, or by other methods. Accordingly, although they are not exposed to the same assaults, and do not engage in the same battles, yet they have a warfare in common, and shall never be wholly at peace and exempt from persecutions.




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