The Way of Safety and Godly Conduct for the Faithful in Reference to the Last Days

Luke 21:31-36; Acts 20:29-32; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Timothy 4:1-5
31So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 34And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:31‑36)29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. (Acts 20:29‑32)1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5)In these Scriptures, the way of safety and of godly conduct for the faithful is connected with individual character and nearness to God.
When God reproves, we should accept the reproof as from God; we should bring our doings to the light, and that is, the word of God: " He that doeth truth cometh to the light " (John 3:2121But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:21)). There is danger of trying to find excuse for what we suspect to be wrong, and instead of searching the word of God to find out the evil, searching it to defend the evil, and thus darkening the light.
In Luke 21, when. there is distress of nations, and men's hearts failing them with fear, then the disciples of Jesus should lift up their heads; and, therefore, they are warned against having their hearts overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life.
1. Surfeiting. The heart, when filled with engagement in circumstances, has little relish or appetite for the things of the Lord.
3. Cares of this life. Distressing anxiety about circumstances, in not casting our care on the Lord, so occupies the heart, that the things of God are not thought of. In reference to these things, the Lord says to His disciples: " Watch ye, therefore, and pray always:" these are the means by which we take heed to ourselves. We should watch against those evil things, and we should watch our own hearts. "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:2323Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)). We should watch in communion with God, and in the light of God's truth.
In " praying always," there is the breathing forth of dependence on God as we go on our way, not looking to channels or looking to circumstances, but in conscious dependence looking to God.
As to the expression, " standing before the Son of man," the position of standing is not like that of a soldier lying down and weltering in his blood. When the apostle speaks of our conflict, in Eph. 6, he says, " that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand." In the day of the Son of man, while some will hide themselves in the rocks, the faithful will stand in quiet peace.
In Acts 20, the apostle warns of the danger the brethren are in. Our danger may be from things acting on the heart, as in the warning in Luke 21, or it may be from people, as here.
1. There are " grievous wolves."
2. There are " men speaking perverse things."
In the one, the character is fierce, "not sparing -the flock." In the other, the character is attractive,
" drawing away disciples after them.." The brethren are in danger from those who would act on their fears, terrifying them with threats; they are also in danger from those who would act on their feelings, to draw them after themselves. Here, there is double danger: first, the men; secondly, the perverse things they speak: but there is deliverance from both in God and in the word of His grace.
When there is danger from bad men, the apostle does not commend them to any man, but to God and to the word of His grace. Our blessing lies in nothing short of this. The men speak perverse things; but we are commended to God and to the word of His grace; and in this we will be followers of God and not of man. Many are following men; but if the disciples of Jesus should be called on at any time to tell what they are, they should say: " We are Christians," and not name any individual upon earth, as being his followers: there may be those who need to be instructed in this, that they may not, in ignorance, dishonor their Lord. Some may call themselves after a person who desires that they should not do so, as when at Corinth they said, "I am of Paul;" but if some do it, let us be cautious.
In 2 Tim. 3, the perilous times of the last days are spoken of; and the persons involved in them are described in parts of their character, in the same way as the reprobate Gentiles in Rom. 1 The characters of being proud, boasters, disobedient to parents, and without natural affection, are applied to both of them. The same horrible characters found among the heathen, whom God gave over to a reprobate mind, are found also in the last days among the false professors of Christianity.
Some of the grosser evils, as in the eyes of man, which are ascribed to the heathen in Rom. 1, such as murder, are omitted in the description of characters in the perilous times, where there is " a form of godliness."
Some other features of character are specially found among these latter, such as " despisers of those that are good," because these were found coming more in their way, as the painful witnesses against their evil. So it was with Diotrephes, desiring to have the pre-eminence, and speaking against the apostle with malicious words.
In marking the character of a disciple, the words of the Lord Jesus are " If any man will come after me, let him deny himself; " but, in the perilous times, men are " lovers of their own selves."
The apostle says: "From such turn away," for evil communications corrupt good manners. They have a form of godliness. It may be any form; but by their fruits ye shall know them; and we must turn away on individual responsibility.
We need not only to watch our hearts against evil things, but also our communications, that they be not with evil people. The apostle directs Timothy as to his positive conduct at such times. Two things are set before him: the order and connection of these it is most important to observe. The first has reference to Timothy himself; the second has reference to others. The Lord would teach us not to be like hypocrites, having the beam in our own eye while taking the mote out of our brother's eye; and so in these two directions: the first is, " Continue thou in the things thou hast learned and been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them: " this had reference to Timothy himself. The second ' is, " Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine: " this had reference to others. In the exercise of individual care of ourselves, we are capacitated to take care of others; and so when the apostle spoke of one overtaken in a fault, his direction was: " Ye that are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted." Consciousness of failure and weakness makes us to sympathize with a brother in his weakness, and then consciousness of strength in God gives ability to help that brother. While Paul warned Timothy, he could also say of himself: "Thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience."
The apostle gave further warning thus "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." The sound doctrine which they would not endure means whole-Borne doctrine; it is humbling to oneself, but giving glory to Jesus. This cannot be endured where one's own lusts prevail, and so they heap up teachers to themselves: these teachers may gratify their taste with learning and soft language. The danger is of leaving the truth with itching ears-trying, it may be, to get a more enlarged mind.
There is another double direction given to Timothy: " Endure afflictions; do the work of an evangelist." While troubles come upon us, blessing should flow out from us. Our ministry should take its character from what God is to us, not from what man is to us. Afflictions come from man, and we should endure them;-glad tidings come from God, and we should be His Gospel ministers of them.