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Now, more than ever, men are “lovers of their own selves.” The self-serving and self-glorifying message of the world has “crept into” many quarters of the church.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)
This is a day of Luciferic “self-creation” that has led to an epidemic of narcissism (i.e., self-idolatry.) People are delighting in being able to carve out and fashion their own unique identity and they want others to “bow down” to it.
Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 26:1)
Like Nebuchadnezzar, any perceived dishonor of the image they erect is viewed as an attack upon their dignity.
…These men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up (Daniel 3:12)
Fierce indignation and aggression is directed toward those who question or find fault with them or their choices. Those who won’t “bow to their image” are deemed “haters,” judgers, persecutors, and enemies.
He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. (Prov. 9:7-9)
Those who hate reproof hate those who would reprove them.
They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly. (Amos 5:10)
The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. (John 7:7)
Jesus warned His last days disciples to prepare to be hated even by their own relatives for speaking the truth which is opposed to the world’s “truth.”
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? (Matthew 10:21-25)
Those dedicated to the will of God must be prepared to suffer for the cause of Christ in a day when men worship at the idolatrous altar of SELF.
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. (1 Peter 4:1-5)
The world loves its own not with a true love but with a spirit of flattery. The Lord’s disciples will not walk in a spirit of flattery.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:19)
Our current epidemic of narcissism is fueled by a philosophy that teaches that there is no ultimate and objective right and wrong, but everyone should follow their own creed and do what is “right in their own eyes.”
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:15)
All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. (Proverbs 16:2)
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2)
Gospel ministry that calls men to repentance is becoming hated outside and inside the church. The self-justifying spirit found in narcissism is making the world’s masses resistant to the gospel and keeping the church from true revival that is brought about through taking inventory of our lives and repenting.
Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness. (Proverbs 30:20)
Until we call our sin for what it is and find it “hateful” there is no hope for change. Until that time we will continue to “flatter ourselves,” steering clear of those who would reprove us and gravitating toward those who coddle us.
For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. (Psalm 36:2)
A people dedicated to themselves and unwilling for their way to be corrected will require those in “ministry” to flatter them. They will “heap to themselves teachers” who walk in a spirit of flattery.
Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. (Isaiah 30:8-11)
smooth > Hebrew – chelqah > flattering
Those who know how to “itch ears” with a “gospel of flattery,” telling those in love with themselves what they want to hear, will be multiplying in these last days.
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 (2 Timothy 4:3)
Paul made it known that he should not be a true servant of Christ or preach a true gospel if he tickled men’s ears.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
Paul declared that his ministry was free of a spirit of flattery, neither did he seek the affirmation of men.
But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. (1 Thes. 2:4-6)
Absalom’s own deep need to be affirmed caused him to become a flatterer. He was willing to say to any man, “thy matters are good and right.” He was quickly able to rise in popularity with such a strategy.
And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. (2 Samuel 15:1-6)
David recognized that flattering lips will cause even the “vilest men” to be exalted (i.e., lifted up, honored, praised, celebrated.)
<< A Psalm of David.>> Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things … The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted. (Psalm 12:1-3,8)
Those who promote a false gospel declare that God is “delighted” with every person who is “good,” perfect, and accepted in His sight. They reject the notion of God holding us to some standard He wants us to meet. The teach a false grace by which all judgment is gone and everyone is fine with God “just the way they are.”
Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? (Malachi 2:17)
In the last days, Jude prophesied of those who had hard things to say about God, but smooth things to say to men. Because of their desire to gain advantages with men, they will fawn over people, holding their persons “in admiration.”
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. (Jude 1:16)
Flattery only brings us temporary favor with others. Rebuke will gain us favor in the end.
He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue. (Proverbs 28:23)
God calls us to beware of the flatterer. A flatterer speaks fair, he puffs up, he appears as a great friend and encourager, but he comes to bring ruin.
A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin. (Proverbs 26:28)
The snare of the last days is a snare of flattery.
A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet. (Proverbs 29:5)
In these last days. those dedicated to themselves, (whether their own appetites, pleasures, and cares) will be caught in a snare leading to apostasy.
And 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. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch 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 21:34-36)
A Father who would protect His children calls us to turn our ears away from those walking in a spirit of flattery, or we will be led astray in this last days apostasy.
Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:27)
The spirit of flattery that is at present powerfully at work in the church is the spirit of antichrist that will lead the world into the arms of the Beast and call mankind to the worship of the Dragon.
Only those who are living for the glory of Christ will escape the last days snare. The beast will be the ultimate flatterer in his deifying of man. His message will resonate with those who are serving and loving themselves.
And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. (Daniel 11:32)
God is allowing a “ministry” of flattery to carry a “ME centered” gospel into the church. He is using these false teachers to ensnare and sift out from His body the self-centered who are more dedicated to themselves than they are to Him.
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins. (Hosea 9:7-9)
“The time of visitation and retribution is approaching. Then will Israel learn that its prophets, who only predicted prosperity and good (Ezekiel 13:10), were infatuated fools.” – Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Last days flattery will serve as a “sieve of vanity” by which God will divide those who love themselves from those who love Him.
And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. (Isaiah 30:28)