MERIDIAN — “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come” — 2 Timothy 3:1
Recently, we have experienced an epidemic of senseless shootings where the shooter kills strangers and usually concludes with suicide. In America, we focus on guns and gun control. However, in other parts of the world, explosives are used with the same results. Suicide bombers and active shooters have much in common.
In our secular society, we try to understand the cause of such mindsets. We look at backgrounds to develop motives. We look at mindsets to see if there is warped thinking. We look at society to see what controls can be implemented to prevent such disasters. We look at counter measures such as locks, alarms, security, even concealed weapons that might stop the carnage. To date, our secular society and the world have found no solution to the problem.
The Bible can shed light on what we face. There are only two spiritual forces at work in the world. The two forces are God and the devil. To know which is at work is simple; whatever is not of God is of the Devil. Both forces attempt to influence us. The force that we yield to the most is the one that has the most impact on our lives.
The track of evil at work is consistent. The following steps always follow:
1. The person chooses to try something evil. It may not seem bad at the time. It could be a video game that normalizes violence. It could be a gang that encourages bad behavior. It could be to buy into a philosophy of hatred toward some person or group of people. The point is that the person chooses something that is not godly.
2. The activity becomes a habit. Most ungodly activity can become habitual. After awhile, no choice is needed. Action becomes automatic, without need of cognitive decisions.
3. The activity becomes controlling. Instead of the person controlling his conduct, the bad habit controls their conduct. The person is really out of control. They no longer can help themselves. Many bad habits are almost impossible to escape once they are created.
4. The activity becomes destructive. Ultimately, the bad activity hurts others and destroys the person performing the bad habit. The suicide bomber kills himself. The active shooter commits suicide. The addict destroys his job, family, and life.
Evil can manifest itself in at least two ways. The usual manifestation is when someone intentionally decides to do something evil. The other is when good people react without reference to the leadership of God. We must remember, “Whatever is not of God is of the Devil.” The escalation of many “solutions” only exacerbates “the problem.”
In 2 Timothy, chapter 3, Paul encouraged a young preacher, Timothy, to focus on a few things since they were living in perilous times. The following is the list for every good person to follow:
1. Continue in what you have learned and believe. The more complex the problem, the more we need to read our instruction manual, the Bible. The wisdom we need to guide us in our response to evil is found in the Bible, not evening talk shows or the news media. With the application of the wisdom of the scriptures, we will be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2. Do what God has called us to do for the kingdom. Timothy was called to preach. You may have been called to something else. The point is that good people need to keep doing well. The last thing we need to do is to freeze and do nothing. When good people do nothing, evil will prevail.
3. Be watchful. In perilous times we need to be spiritually awake. It is no time to relax. Our focus does not need to be our “enemy” so much as “our walk with God.”
4. Endure afflictions. Trouble and hardships happen in this world. Remember what Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” It is for such a time as this that we are called to be consistent and know that the One we serve will be the victor in the end.
5. Be evangelistic. Presently, many find themselves living a life of bad choices and need to hear that they have options. Jesus freed the Gadarian demoniac from a life of living among the graves and hurting himself, to a life of being clothed and in his right mind. Others can be helped too. They just need to hear there are options. God can help the situation we are in.
Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www. psdbc.org.