The flesh hasn’t changed since man’s fall. Adam’s character was corrupted by the fall and he passed that along to his offspring. It is called “the old man” in Scripture. For the born again child of God, the old man is crucified with Christ (Ro. 6:6; Col. 3:9), but it is also still present and must be dealt with on a daily basis (Eph. 4:22-24).
The devil hasn’t changed. He is the enemy of God, of God’s Word, and of God’s people. He has been “the god of this world” since the fall (2 Co. 4:4).
And the world hasn’t changed. In 1 John 2:15 the “world” refers to the world system created by fallen men under the headship of Satan. The Greek is kosmos, which refers to a system, an order, an arrangement. The world is “that moral order which is antagonistic to God” (Preacher’s Homiletical Commentary). The “course of this world” is defined in Ephesians 2:2-3. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” The world system began in the days of that rebel Cain, who went out from the presence of God and built the first city (Ge. 4:16-22). Cain’s world was full of technology, enterprise, and entertainment (Ge. 4:20-22), but it was a civilization bent on living independent of God and in rebellion to His laws. It was characterized by polygamy, murder, prideful boasting (Ge. 4:19, 23-24). The world system was further developed in the days of Nimrod (Ge. 10:8-10; 11:1-9). After the Flood, God had instructed mankind to fill the earth, but instead they congregated in the region of Babel and built a society characterized by enmity to God, rebellion to God’s laws, the exaltation of man, and idolatrous religion under the leadership of an antichrist forerunner. With the confounding of Babel, men were divided by languages and spread across the world, carrying the essence of Babel with them as they built the nations. Babylon is called “the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Re. 17:5). The devil is “the god of this world” because he is the head of the world system (2 Co. 4:4). John tells us that the world system is universal: “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 Jo. 5:19).
So, on one hand, the enemies of God’s people are the same as they ever were: the world, the flesh, and the devil.
On the other hand, we are living in a time of increased danger.
Spiritual safety requires understanding our times, and it is a gift in value beyond estimation that we have God’s infallible Word as a light in the darkness.
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Pe. 1:19).
“The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness...” (Ec. 2:14).
“The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going” (Pr. 14:15).
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Ro. 13:11).
In brief, it is a time when
- the average teen spends almost 11 hours per day in consuming electronic media (TV. radio, internet, etc.)
- 53% of children go online with no parental supervision
- 38% of teens have received sexually suggestive content via a device
- very young children are becoming addicted to online pornography, with their first exposure as young as 8 years old
- 56% of children 8-11 and 69% of 12-year-olds in America have a smartphone
- the average smartphone user touches his phone 2,600+ times every day
- By 2016, youth 13-18 were spending nearly nine hours a day consuming entertainment media (Business Insider, Jun. 22, 2016).
- 66% admit to nomophobia (no-mobile-phone-phobia), the fear of not having your phone
- 40% of smartphone users check their phones in the middle of the night
- 52% of teens sit around in silence, staring at their smartphones when together with friend
- 88% of American youth 18-29 use social media and 45% say they are online “on a near-constant basis
- there are 2.5 billion monthly Facebook users (one-third of the global population)
- 90% of teens use Snapchat and 72% use Instagram
- “If you walk into any middle school in the United States and stop a random 13-year-old girl and ask her how many followers she has on Instagram, she will tell the exact number as of 5 minutes ago” (Jesse Weinberge, The Boogeyman Exists, p. 138).
- new apps like TikTok can explode in popularity from zero to half a billion users in a matter of months
- 95% of the most watched YouTube videos are highly sexualized music videos
- the top YouTube celebrity is a video gamer nicknamed PewDiePie with 102 million subscribers, a young man who has made about $90 million through the social currency of his YouTube channel
- one very liberal, anti-Christ company (Google) controls 73% of all internet searches (on all devices) and 93% of smartphone searches
- six very liberal-minded, anti-Christ corporations own most of the news and broadcast media in America, controlling 90% of what people read, watch, and listen to.
Even non-Bible believers are waking up to the fact that we are facing new dangers.
Jesse Weinberger, who teaches internet safety to thousands of parents and teachers each year, says,
“As parents raising 21st century digital citizens, it is critical that we become educated in order to understand the reality of where our children live, who they interact with, and who they become once they enter the digital sphere. ... The entire landscape of parenting has changed; some for the better, much for the worse. AD era (After Digital) parenting holds all of the same issues from the BD (Before Digital) era, plus a full slate of new ones. ... The constantly changing landscape of digital risks demands constant parental engagement” (The Boogeyman Exists, And He’s in Your Child’s Back Pocket).
If the world is waking up to the unique dangers of this age and unregenerate parents are increasing their vigilance, how much more should God’s people!
Understanding the times requires much more than understanding the internet. Let’s look at this age through the lens of Scripture:
The Age of Apostasy
It is a time of increased danger because it is the time of apostasy (2 Ti. 3:1-5; 4:3-4). The New Testament prophesies that the church age will be characterized by a turning away from the truth among professing Christians.
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. ... 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” (2 Ti. 3:13; 4:3-4).
The Lord Jesus Christ described this apostasy in the parables of the mystery of the kingdom in Matthew 13. The final one, the parable of the leaven, summarizes the course of the church age. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Mt. 13:33). The leaven of apostasy will increase until the whole professing “Christendom” is corrupted. The end of the church age will witness an explosion of apostasy. The vast majority of churches will not follow the “faith once delivered to the saints.”
This is exactly what we see in history. Roman Catholicism developed over a period of a few hundred years after the apostles and eventually spread false Christianity throughout the world. The Protestant Reformation had many Scriptural elements and resulted in many social and political benefits, but it did not reject all of Rome’s errors (e.g., infant baptism, universal church, state church, amillennialism, replacement theology). In the 19th century, there was an explosion of apostasy: German higher critical thinking or theological liberalism, Darwinian and theistic evolution, Unitarianism, end-time cults such as Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh-day Adventism, Swedenborgianism. Today, even most “evangelicals” are leavened by apostasy.
Pervasive apostasy means that this is a time of great danger.
With the coming of the internet age, apostasy has spread phenomenally. Any false doctrine is available at the click of a mouse or the tap on a phone screen. This is having a serious effect on churches, as one friend commented recently:
“Here we are, living in the 21st century, and we have had the entire New Testament for 20 centuries, and yet we live in an era that is filled with confusion about many things including church. One might think with all the technology and social media that people have at their fingertips, it would lessen confusion and increase their learning and that it would help believers to grow in the Lord as well, but in general, that is not the case. I believe I’m right to say that social media has had the opposite effect. Here is why. The addictive social media exposes people to live, world-wide wickedness, to world-wide false teachers, to world-wide church services of all flavors, and people feed on all kinds of strange doctrines. Of course, social media is not the only reason for all the confusion, but it has contributed to it.”
Living in the age of apostasy calls for the spiritual wisdom and strength that comes only by a strong knowledge of God’s Word and by abiding in Christ and walking in the Spirit and not being conformed to the world. And yet this exactly what we do not see in a great many “Bible believing” churches today.
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Publisher of Bible Study Materials