The first five verses of 2 Timothy 3 show us the situation that existed at that time: “But know this, that in the last days difficult times shall come; for men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, nonlovers of good, traitors, reckless, blinded with pride, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but having denied its power; from these also turn away.”
In these verses there are exactly twenty-one items. The first is lovers of self. I believe that we all know that humanity is a matter of love. Human beings are not machines; they are loving beings. If there is no love, humanity will vanish. Suppose all the members of a family have no love. What kind of family will that be? Therefore, the first aspect of humanity is love. But love must be used in the proper way. If it is used wrongly, it is exceedingly dangerous. But the proper use of love requires the proper humanity. Therefore, the first cause of corruption of society is the misuse of love. Paul tells us that men will become lovers of self.
The second item is lovers of money. I do not believe that money has ever been more lovable than at the present time. The third is boasters. How the young people are boasting today! The fourth is arrogance. They are not only proud, but arrogant. The fifth is revilers. We see so much of this today. The sixth is disobedient to parents. This is very prevalent today. It seems that human ethics have been changed. Some even say that it is good to be disobedient to parents. This comes straight from the Devil. Any disobedience comes from Satan, the rebellious one. He is the source of all rebellion.
The seventh item is unthankfulness. The mood today is to be ungrateful to parents, ungrateful to grandparents, ungrateful to brothers and sisters, and even ungrateful to country. This is the real picture of today’s generation. And today’s younger generation is simply reaping the things sown by the older generation. The eighth is unholiness. People today simply hate to be holy. The ninth is to be without natural affection. Too many people do not have natural affection today, and they even boast of it.
The tenth item is implacable. This means that these people do not like to make peace with others. They do not like to forgive others, and they do not like to be reconciled to others. The more trouble they can make, the better. The more riots, the more turmoil, the happier they are. This is a prophecy which was fulfilled at the end of the first century and will also be fulfilled at the end of this age. In the prophecies of the Bible, there is always a double fulfillment: one at the present time, and the other in the future. I do believe that what we are seeing today is part of the fulfillment. People simply do not like to make peace. They talk about peace, yet they act the contrary.
The eleventh item refers to slanderers. These people always criticize good reports and carry evil reports about others. They are continually making all kinds of false reports. The twelfth item is without self-control. So many today have cast off all restraint. The thirteenth is savage men. They are like wild beasts—not only fierce but also wild. The fourteenth is nonlovers of good. In today’s world situation, evil and devilish people are teaching others to hate all good things. Instead of lovers of good, they are nonlovers of good. The fifteenth is traitors. These are those who are always betraying others. The sixteenth is those who are reckless. The seventeenth is those who are blinded with pride. The eighteenth is lovers of pleasure, and the nineteenth is nonlovers of God.
The last two items are seen in the phrase, “having a form of godliness, but having denied its power.” The twentieth is the form of godliness. This may refer to those who go to church on Sunday. You may say that they have a form of godliness, but they deny the power, which is the twenty-first item. What is the power of godliness? It is Jesus Christ. Too many Christians have a form of godliness, but they care nothing for Christ. They have the religious form, but they do not have Christ.
Nearly all of these twenty-one items are related to human virtues. We must love in a proper way. We must be right with God, we must be right with our parents, and we must be right with others. We must even be right with ourselves. Too many today are not right with themselves. They are wrong with God, wrong with their parents, wrong with each other, and even wrong with themselves. In a sense, they are not human. They are out of the proper humanity. Their humanity has been ruined to the uttermost.
(Christ as the Reality, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)