2 Timothy 3: 1 – 5   “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

     This is not a very flattering description of  society in ‘the last days’.  Yet who would argue that the world is not beset by the actions of proud, brutal and abusive people.  One glance at a newspaper will confirm this sad situation.   Moreover, history tells us, time and time again, that even civilized societies are capable of atrocities of horrific proportions;  many genocides have occurred in the 20th century.  The world is what it is – without God’s Spirit, life gets ‘Darwinian’ very quickly. Indeed, without God’s Spirit, life gets worse than the simple natural brutalities of ‘survival of the fittest’; evil takes over and life moves beyond nature towards a hellish parody of the natural world – ‘survival of the fattest’! Yet, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary people believe that humanity is basically good.  People believe that education and a decent living wage will solve a lot of the problems that we face today.   People are seduced by the BIG EASY LIE that human beings are good and as we evolve and become more ‘enlightened’ things will get better.

     Why do I call this view of humanity THE BIG EASY LIE?   Because a lot of people believe this lie.   It is appealing.  It is hard to go against what the majority of people believe.  It is a lot easier to go along with this lie than to stand against it.  Yet the Bible tells us that the heart of humanity is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).  Jesus himself says that only God is good (Matthew 19:17).  The apostle Paul knew human nature well and honestly assessed his own ‘goodness’;  “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  (Romans 7:24).  If you don’t believe the Bible, look at history – wars, atrocities, betrayal and the conquest of the weak by the strong.  Nothing has changed – nothing has gotten better.  If anything has evolved it is our ability to wreak havoc upon one another.

     A few years ago I spent a week in a church with a young Rwandan man who had experienced the living hell of genocide in his country.  He had no illusions about the basic goodness of mankind.  The Big Easy Lie operating in the world enables people to forget history, be blind to current events and so live big easy lives of consumerism and false optimism.   The fruit of THE BIG EASY LIE in secular society is insensitivity to violence, moral decay and indifference to others. 

     Once I believed that 2 Timothy 3:1 – 5 was a description of the world excluding those in church communities.  Some commentaries reference the world with respect to this scripture, others reference impostors in the church;  “A form of godliness, a profession of Christian faith without a godly life, often is allowed to pass, while open profession of the truth as it is in Jesus, and resolute attention to the duties of godliness, stir up the scorn and enmity of the world.”  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)  Church going people are not immune to being taken in by THE BIG EASY LIE.  Rather, church going people are particularly susceptible to THE BIG EASY LIE.

     A weakness of religion is that it can encourage people to consider themselves better than their fellow human beings.  It is hard to think of yourself as a ‘bad person’ when you’re sitting in church on Sunday looking your best while your ‘sinful neighbour’ is out mowing his lawn or sleeping off her hangover.   Not only do you judge outsiders, you start judging your friends – when you go to midweek Bible Study, you begin to feel more holy than those who never come to Bible Study.    The religious form of THE BIG EASY LIE is that ‘we are basically good, the rest of humanity isn’t’.  The end stage of this malignancy becomes self-righteousness;  ‘I am basically good – you are not’!  

     As the dark power of THE BIG EASY LIE works the predominant view of those deceived by it becomes; ‘I am better than you’.  The Power of the Gospel is completely emptied out of a person who is self-righteous.  The fruit of the BIG EASY LIE is a church where it’s members have a form of godliness but deny the Power of the Gospel.   To judge yourself to be in a superior moral state (being good) is to denigrate the Power of the Gospel in your life.  Heaven isn’t  full of good people – its full of FORGIVEN people.  A church may be full of good people but how many in that church fearfully cling to the Gospel – salvation and forgiveness for their sins?  How many work out their salvation on a daily basis with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).

     There is a saying, ‘only the desperate are delivered’.  Those who feel that they are not ‘that bad’ simply aren’t drawn to the Gospel.   Life is good, they’re good and getting better who really needs Jesus.  They have no great need for forgiveness.   Here is another saying, ‘only the desperate can deliver the Gospel’!  A church of self satisfied, complacent, morally superior people simply can’t deliver the Power of the Gospel to a dying world.  Why?   Because such a church is part of the world.  It has become bewitched by the BIG EASY LIE.  Any desperate person will tell you that they can sense when people are insincere, when people are just giving lip service to an ideal.  You can’t walk the talk if you don’t believe what it says about you!

     What kind of desperation will deliver the Gospel?  The Power of the Gospel flows through those who are honest about themselves – those who know they desperately need the Gospel because their heart is desperately wicked.  The apostle Paul’s was desperate;   “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. ” (1 Corinthians 2:3-5)  Paul was not under the influence of the BIG EASY LIE.  He understood; “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.”  He was honest about it.  Paul’s power was the Power of the Gospel; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth …”  (Romans 1:16)