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Could self-centeredness be a sign of the coming tribulation?

Prisoners of the Self

Our world is changing, and not for the better. People are becoming more callous, selfish, violent, and angry. Attitudes and behaviors deemed unthinkable even a decade ago are now considered acceptable.

But why do people go the wrong way? Why do good people do bad things? For thousands of years, people have been debating these types of questions.

According to Scripture, sin is the fundamental problem of every person. The Bible makes it clear that corruption entered our bloodstream through Adam and Eve, who rebelled against God in His garden. Because we’ve been stained by sin, we can produce nothing good on our own — either as individuals or collectively. This has been true for God’s people throughout the centuries.

But can you feel it? Something has changed. The bad is getting worse.

Just consider the story of Xiao Zhen Xie, who lives in San Francisco. Xie is 75 years old, and she was the victim of a brutal attack while she was walking on Market Street in the middle of the day. A young man struck her in the face without provocation. Without warning or mercy.

How can we account for such reckless disregard for humanity? 

I want to show you a prediction about the last days that will put all of this into prophetic context.

The apostle Paul wrote his final letter to Timothy, his son in the faith, from a Roman cell. Near the end of his letter, Paul drew a surprisingly detailed picture of how people will behave prior to the tribulation.

“But know this,” he wrote, “that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:1–5).

And notice what he added in verse 13: “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

Paul gave us 19 specific character descriptions of what people will be like. I can’t bore into all 19 words and phrases, but I can show you a pattern — Paul’s words move from selfishpeople to splintered families to shattered societies.

The increasing selfishness of the last days will manifest itself in selfish people, and those selfish people will inevitably result in damaged families. People will focus less on loved ones. Their time, energy, and passion will be tied up in themselves. And the more broken families you find within a society, the more broken that society will become. 

If the ungodly world is characterized by these negatives, how should God’s people live in the midst of it all? 

Ephesians 5:8 is a powerful, yet short passage that illuminates three pathways for God’s people to navigate this darkened world.

First, remember the grace you received. We are spiritually, morally, personally, and eternally in pitch blackness. The moment we come to Christ, He pushes down the lever that connects us to the throne of grace and switches on a billion megawatts of light inside us.

Second, reflect the light you have become. We must exude God’s light. We have to convey it, reflect it, and radiate it. That’s what we read in Ephesians 5:8–10: “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.”

Third, reveal the darkness you see. The Ephesians passage goes on to tell us something else: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light’” (Eph. 5:11–14).

Everyone is longing for some light. The world and its darkness are closing in on us. But when Jesus Christ comes into your life, He switches on the light that can never be turned off.

Dr. David Jeremiah is among the best known Christian leaders in the world. He serves as senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California and is the founder and host of Turning Point. Turning Point‘s 30-minute radio program is heard on more than 2,200 radio stations daily. A New York Times bestselling author and Gold Medallion winner, he has written more than fifty books.

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