Sermon Notes: February 8, 2015
By Philip A Matthews
Text: Matthew 24:12
(KJV) And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
(AMP) And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity¦
(ERV) There will so much more evil in the world that the love of most believers will grow cold.
(GW) And because there will be more and more lawlessness, most people's love will grow cold.
(YLT) and because of the abounding of the lawlessness, the love of the many shall become cold¦
(WNT) and because of the prevalent disregard of God's law the love of the great majority will grow cold¦
(MSG) For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in--nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.
The Greek word translated "iniquity, "evil, or "disregard of God's law is "anomia, meaning the condition of being without law, i.e., LAWLESSNESS. In the last days lawlessness shall "plethuno, i.e., "shall abound or "shall be multiplied until it takes over society. To "wax cold or "grow cold comes from "psucho, meaning to breathe, to blow, or to gradually cool by blowing. According to Vincent's Word Studies,
"The picture is that of spiritual energy (being) blighted or chilled by a poisonous wind.
The Apostle Paul describes how people will be in the last days: 2Timothy 3:1-5 (Amplified)
"But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. [They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.
When each of these bad behaviors is analyzed, it becomes clear that each trait is just another way of refusing to follow laws: moral laws are turned on their head, social taboos are thrown out, natural laws are circumvented, common sense rules of living are ignored, discipline is dumped, etc. The only rule people go by now is "Just let me be free to do whatever I want to do! I have a right to be free to do my thing! You can't stop me! I'm accountable to no one! Don't impose your morality on me! Don't limit me! I'm free!
But there is a grave problem with this kind of freedom: It eventually destroys itself! That's because the type of freedom that is not governed by morality and strong convictions of right and wrong soon produces unlimited selfishness, and unlimited selfishness causes unlimited evil and all of its dire, destructive consequences. Eventually, this kind of freedom, which is actually license not liberty, collapses upon itself! Truly, as Paul wrote, "You cannot fool God, so don't make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant. If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life (Galatians 6:7-8 CEV). That is an unbreakable, inescapable law of the universe:
You reap what you sow. Period.
THEME: BUT THE MOST SOBERING MESSAGE OF OUR TEXT IS THAT THIS INCREASING, WIDESPREAD IMMORALITY & EVIL IN THE WORLD IS DEFINITELY GOING TO HAVE A HUGE, CHILLING EFFECT ON THOSE WHO CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS:
MOST OF THEM ARE GOING TO LOSE THEIR LOVE FOR GOD & HIS WAY UNDER THE PRESSURES OF LAWLESSNESS!!!
Did you hear that? MOST of them! That's what the SCRIPTURE said, what JESUS prophesied! WHY? Two reasons: (1) When we take away all the rules, the vast majority of people start doing whatever selfish, evil things they feel like doing, and (2) This creates overwhelming pressure on those who keep trying to do the right and millions of them QUIT doing the right because of FEAR. With NO moral laws, NO accountability, and LOTS of PRESSURE against the right, those who want to do the right ONLY do the right because they LOVE GOD.
CHECK YOUR LOVE NOW!
Matthew 24:13 "He that endures ("hupomeno = "Stays UNDER; keeps himself UNDER God) shall be saved¦ The kernel of truth here is this: IF you keep yourself UNDER the HOLY SPIRIT and live your daily life UNDER the WORD OF GOD (i.e., OBEY God's spiritual convictions and know and follow His Word), then you will endure the days ahead and YOU WILL BE SAVED! But if you take every opportunity that an atmosphere of LAWLESSNESS gives you to indulge your fleshly desires and start doing & thinking what everybody else is doing & thinking, YOU WILL BE LOST! You might think that this is highly unlikely, but the following statistics show plainly that the average "Christian is radically changing:
Evidence that Christians are being greatly influenced by the LAWLESSNESS around them:
According to the 2014 "State of Dating in America report from ChristianMingle.com, the largest Christian online dating site, only 13 percent of respondents said they would not have sex before marriage. Only 13 percent said that they would move in together only after marriage. All of the rest would have sex or move in together for various reasons (i.e., various excuses) before they were married. See http://www.stateofdatingreport.com/findings.htm.
Relevant Magazine reported in 2011 that 80 percent of unmarried Christian young adults have already had sex. See http://www.christianpost.com/news/are-most-single-christians-in-america-having-sex-56680/.
CovenantEyes.com's "Pornography Statistics: Annual Report 2013 revealed that 50 percent of Christian men and 20 percent of Christian women say they are addicted to pornography. See http://www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats/.
Internet porn is a significant problem among Christians. Over two-thirds, 68 percent, of Christian men and boys watch porn regularly, and among 18 to 30-year-old Christian men, about one in three, 36 percent, view pornography daily. See http://www.christianpost.com/news/internet-porn-pandemic-threatens-world-and-church-apologetics-conference-highlights-128199/.
According to surveys by Proven Men, 35% of married Christian men had sex with someone else while married (31% for born-again Christian men). Over one-half (56%) of men having had one affair will end up having more than three affairs. http://www.provenmen.org/2014pornsurvey/christian-porn-stats/#extramarital.
The American Bible Society's 2013 "State of the Bible study conducted by the Barna Group showed that only 17 percent of self-identifying Christian adults say they would "be interested in receiving input and wisdom from the Bible on romance and sexuality. See http://www.americanbible.org/state-bible.
The percentage of people who believe "homosexuality is a sin continues to drop. Although the majority of Christians still say homosexuality is a sin, surveys show that 27% of "born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christians (i.e., over 1 out of 4) cannot say that it is a sin. Among people who attend religious services at least once a week, 61% say homosexuality is a sin, which means that almost 40% think it's okay. And this was in 2013; lots of minds have "evolved since then. http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2013/january/lifeway-fewer-than-2-in-5-americans-say-homosexuality-is.html.
While 25 percent of American adults have been divorced at least once, the divorce rate is even higher (27 percent) among self-identified "born again" Christians and higher yet (29 percent) among Baptists. http://www.adherents.com/largecom/baptist_divorce.html and https://www.barna.org/barna-update/family-kids/42-new-marriage-and-divorce-statistics-released#.VWDFrk1_n4g.
Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as "Born-again/Evangelical" (part of the Protestant category). http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message1839399/pg1. Also, a recent study reports that 90% of women who've had an abortion also had at least 3 sexual partners and nearly 83% have cohabited at least once. So that means that a sizable portion of the religion-affiliated aborting women, although these reports don't say how much, have had at least 3 or more sexual partners and/or lived with a male without being married to him. In other words, a large portion aren't following the sexual purity standards of the Bible at all. See http://www.christianpost.com/news/study-finds-that-90-of-women-whove-had-an-abortion-also-had-at-least-3-sexual-partners-112722/ and for the actual very interesting report, http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF14A37.pdf.
Dave Olson, the director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church, has done some really interesting research into the church attendance patterns of Americans. Olson's research found that the percentage of Americans that regularly attend church is only 18.7%. In addition, his research shows that if current trends continue, the percentage of the U.S. population that attends church each week in 2050 will be about half of what it is today. - See more at: http://signsofthelastdays.com/archives/the-decline-of-christianity-in-america#sthash.tKaVPpRV.dpuf.
George Barna's research found that less than one-half of one percent of Mosaics (18-23 years old) have a biblical worldview. Only 9 percent of all adults have a biblical worldview, and only 19 percent of "born again Christians have a biblical worldview. A biblical worldview, as defined by the Barna study, is believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is completely accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. Only 19% of born again Christians believe ALL of the above. http://www.christianpost.com/news/survey-less-than-1-percent-of-young-adults-hold-biblical-worldview-37415/.
Breaking down Barna's above worldview surveys (several between 1995 and 2005) into several interesting individual stats: Only 32% (1/3rd) of adults who were "born again said they believe in moral absolutes. Only 9% (1/11th) of "born again teens believe in moral absolutes! So what do they believe? They believe that right and wrong are always relative to the person and their situation, depending on the circumstances. Thus, it may be okay to lie in certain situations, to steal under certain circumstances, to have sex outside of marriage under certain conditions (e.g., if you really love that person), etc. They reject the idea that certain behaviors are wrong at all times for all people under all circumstances. Instead of accepting and obeying what the Bible teaches as moral absolutes, they make most of their decisions about right and wrong based on whatever feels right or comfortable in a situation, whatever will make the most people happy or benefitted, whatever will keep themselves from being ridiculed by other people, and other similar relativistic reasons. https://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/67-americans-are-most-likely-to-base-truth-on-feelings#.VWLzKU1_n4g.
In 2009, Barna also has found that 40% of Christians strongly agreed that Satan "is not a living being but a symbol of evil, and an additional 19% "agreed somewhat with that statement! Similarly, 38% strongly agreed and 20% agreed somewhat that the Holy Spirit is "a symbol of God's power or presence but is not a living entity. In other words, a significantly large portion of Christianity doesn't believe that the Holy Spirit and Satan actually exist! And over one-fourth (27%) did not agree that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches. https://www.barna.org/barna-update/faith-spirituality/260-most-american-christians-do-not-believe-that-satan-or-the-holy-spirit-exis#.VWMCfU1_n4g.
Among evangelical Christians, 61% support euthanasia ("mercy killing), while only 32% approve of doctor-assisted suicide. http://www.gallup.com/poll/16333/Three-Four-Americans-Support-Euthanasia.aspx.
Most American religious believers, including most Christians (52%), say eternal life is not exclusively for those who accept Christ as their savior. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2008-12-18-saved-heaven_N.htm. This disregards Jesus' declaration, "I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: NO one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6). So although we know that God will judge, condemning or approving everyone individually, it is still a fact that some of the world's religions deceive people and send them straight to hell. Period.
Because they knew this day would come, the Apostles have warned:
Romans 12:2 (Living Bible)”"Don't let the world around you SQUEEZE you into its mold.
Romans 12:21 (ESV)”" Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Galatians 5:13 (MSG)”"It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows.
1 Peter 2:16 (ERV)”"Live like free people, but don't use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Live as those who are serving God.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV)”"Do not be deceived: ˜Bad company ruins good morals.'
2 Timothy 4:3 (CEV)”"The time is coming when people won't listen to sound teaching. Instead, they will look for teachers who will please them by telling them only what they are itching to hear.
Matthew 5:13 (Living Bible)”"You are the world's seasoning, to make it tolerable. If you lose your flavor, what will happen to the world? And you yourselves will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
CONCLUSION: As time moves on toward the End, the pressures, intolerance, and persecution directed toward those who want to remain true to God will dramatically increase. It will become extremely difficult to remain true to biblical standards when the whole world, even most of the CHRISTIAN world, has let down and joined in with the god of this world. When you live in a world where you are free to do whatever you like, the only way you can keep your faith is to "STAY UNDER strong convictions. If you don't have strong, GOD-GIVEN convictions, then you are in DEEP TROUBLE already! If you DON'T KNOW what the Bible teaches, you are in trouble already!
"Where LAWLESSNESS and iniquity abounds, the LOVE MOST CHRISTIANS have for God will grow cold and disappear, allowing them to fit in with the rest of society & relieve the pressure. Folks, this is happening now! MAKE SURE THAT YOU ENDURE ("STAY UNDER)!