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Lovers of Self

The end times are described in scripture as perilous times (2 Tim. 3:1). These perilous times will be characterized by men and women who reject God and his sovereignty and who are “lovers of their own selves” (v. 2). Rejecting God, man will live a self-centered life, believing himself to be worthy of all the pleasures of this world. This attitude of self-seeking and self-worth that will continue to increase as the world moves toward its end is a result of an attitude of entitlement.

Entitlement is an attitude or belief that one has earned something for himself or deserves something. Entitlement is tied at the hip to the sins of pride, greed, and jealousy. Entitlement especially rears its ugly head when one looks around himself at what others have and becomes convinced that he deserves what he does not have. The devil, that wicked, fallen angel, is the father of entitlement. Satan was given a glorious position in heaven, and yet he desired the Godhead itself. In his jealousy, he rebelled against God and as a result was cast out of heaven. Seeing an opportunity to separate Adam and Eve from God, the devil set this very temptation of entitlement before them. Taking upon themselves this same entitled attitude, they partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that they might become as God.

What about us? Do we have this same sinful attitude? Since we have all fallen in Adam (Rom. 5:12), we can be sure that this attitude of entitlement is one that infects every man. As the end of the world approaches, this sin will abound more and more, and it will certainly entice the sinful nature of the child of God. It is a sin that we must be on guard against and fight against on a daily basis. That is exactly why the apostle, in 2 Timothy 3, warns the church against this sin. Entitlement is a danger to the spiritual well-being of the church and her members. We will examine how this attitude is a danger to the church and how we must guard against it.

Materialism

In the United States, God’s people live in a society of great wealth and materialism. The world indulges itself in and pursues the pleasures of this life like never before. Man believes he deserves the finest possessions of this life. Watch a commercial and you will learn that you deserve that sleek new phone, those stylish new sneakers, or that trendy new purse. Check Instagram and you will find the lavish vacations and newly purchased toys of many posted for all to see. Those who cannot afford such things become enraged and in their jealousy demand that these things be given to them as well. They call for high-paying jobs (raise the minimum wage!), free education, and free health care. They believe they deserve these things so that they, too, will have the finances to pursue the pleasures of this life.

What about you, young person? Are you tempted by this kind of thinking? Do you feel entitled to earthly possessions? Do you become jealous when you see others who live in a larger home, drive a nicer car, or carry around a brand-new iPhone? You work hard, don’t you? If you work so hard, don’t you deserve to have some of the nice things that others are able to afford? You can be sure the devil rejoices when he can convince the child of God to think this way. He rejoices when he can cause the child of God to set his heart on material possessions. He will use that to bring the believer to anger, discontentment, and bitterness against God. He will use that to shake the confidence and assurance of the child of God. If the Lord would allow it, Satan would so entice the child of God with materialism that he would use it to bring about the destruction of the child of God. Beware! These are perilous, materialistic times.

Be not deceived, though. Entitlement is not limited to those who have little. It’s just as much a temptation to those to whom God has given much earthly wealth and possessions. The one who has been given much might reason like this: “I’m smart and work hard and have earned much for myself.” He fails to recognize that what he has is from God. He believes he has earned his possessions and with that has earned the right to use his possessions however he pleases. He forgets to acknowledge God as the sovereign, providential giver of all things. In doing so, he often places his own desires and pleasures first. He seeks his own kingdom, to the neglect of the kingdom of Christ, the king. Instead of giving to kingdom causes (the church, the Christian school, etc.) as he ought, he hoards his money for himself.

This type of thinking has a way of sinking its hooks into our minds and hearts. Is this true of you, young person? Perhaps you’ve recently acquired a job and have begun to earn an income. It can be easy to consider the money we receive from a job as OUR money. In so doing, our thoughts almost immediately settle on what we can purchase to ourselves with these earnings. Young people, you have the calling to seek first the kingdom of heaven. Do so now! This must not be put off until you are older. God has given you all that you have. Treat the finances he has given you in such a way.

Relativism

In addition to the materialism of this day and age, the child of God lives in a world that more than ever cries out for its “rights.” It demands its rights. It protests for its rights. It rebels against authority in pursuit of its rights. Why would it be any different? Man has completely and thoroughly rejected the Creator and his sovereign rule. He has made a god of himself. Man, having made a god of himself, believes he deserves the right to determine what is evil and what is good. So man allows the right of abortion, the right to divorce and remarry, and the right to homosexuality. To such a degree has man rejected the Creator that he even demands the right to determine for himself whether he is male or female. Man demands the right to (feels entitled to!) his sins.

The result of this entitled attitude is that man now embraces relativism. Relativism is the belief that each man may determine truth for himself. Relativism prevails in our society. So we must ask ourselves, is relativism a danger for the church? It was certainly a danger to the Old Testament church. The book of Judges teaches that every man did what was right in his own eyes. Fighting and resentment was the result among the members of the church, as well as departure from the truth of God’s word.

What about the church today? Will the church today succumb to this lie? Will it take on this same entitled attitude and take to itself the right to determine truth for itself? The church has the word of God. It can openly read and study that word. Certainly, then, it will not attempt to determine truth for itself! Look at the church world around you, young person. It is plain to see that the church has done exactly that. Many churches have openly accepted homosexuality, transgenderism, and all kinds of gross immorality. Many professing Christians have embraced evil and called it good and true. This mindset will only increase in the church world as we approach the end of time.

The danger that the church and her members face in an age of relativism is that they will be ridiculed and persecuted when they call out the sins of society. They will be declared bigots, unloving, and unfair. By nature, we want to be accepted by men. We don’t want to bear the mockery and reproach of those around us. We feel entitled to a good reputation! And so the danger is that we twist the truth of God’s word. We bend it where we can so that we are better able to fit in with this world.

What about you, young person? Are you ready to stand for the truth? Are you willing to have your name dragged through the mud for the sake of Christ and his kingdom? Or do you feel worthy of your own good reputation? Do you seek the glory of your own name over and above the glory of God’s name? There’s no doubt this is a temptation for the child of God. However, our calling is to live for Christ and to expect, then, that we will bear reproach as a result. Christ was hated, ridiculed, and crucified by the world. We must also be ready to bear the hatred of the world. Read Hebrews 11:32–40, and you will be reminded of the bitter reproach God’s people have often faced on account of following Christ. We must be willing even to die for Christ’s sake. We may not feel entitled even to our physical life! Over against the entitlement of this age, we must be ready to deny ourselves and stand for the truth of God’s word.

The Hope of Salvation

What is our defense against entitlement and the dangers it brings for the believer and the church? Put on the hope of salvation! The possessions of this life are temporal. They will rust and fade. Our physical life is like a vapor that quickly vanishes (James 4:14). By contrast, the kingdom of heaven is eternal, incorruptible. You have been given a glorious inheritance in Jesus Christ. Live for Christ and his kingdom. Live in the knowledge of who you are by nature and what you deserve on account of your sins. Then you will live a life filled with thanks to the one who has given you all things. Then you will live a life of contentment with what God has provided for you. Then you will be ready and willing to suffer, and even die, for Christ. Perilous, entitled times abound and will only increase. By grace, may that glorious hope of our salvation live within us!

 

Originally published January 2021, Vol 80 No 1